On a dusty patch of land on the outskirts of the capital Niamey, Niger’s most famous comedian Mamane shows off a site he says will host a drama school to promote African artists and freedom on the continent.
Largely unknown in the Anglosphere, the performer is famous in French-speaking Africa for the satirical radio show “The Very, Very Democratic Republic of Gondwana” spoofing crooked regimes and the rich nations that prop them up.
Having spent a large part of his career in France, Mamane smiles with pride as he describes plans to construct a drama school that will offer comedy and other entertainment training to Niger’s youth.
“We are all Muslims, Christians – we are human beings – and it will be a school to really learn freedom, the love of life. Living together is what we want,” he said. “All that the jihadists don’t like is to see people live, enjoying their freedom to the full. They want to constrain people and lay down the law,” Mamane continued.
“This (school) aims to provide jobs to young Africans, giving hope to these young people, telling them that we can create jobs here in Africa,” he said. It is the latest step in a career that has already won over an international radio audience of some 30 million people, according to a Radio France International estimate, and a switch to the big screen with the 2016 satirical film ‘Bienvenue au Gondwana’ (‘Welcome to Gondwana’).
Like Mamane’s radio work, the movie made fun of an African state whose venal dictator is set on clinging to power. “Policemen in Africa sometimes call me ‘Mr President'”, Mamane told reporters after being pulled over by a policeman during a routine check on the road and then saluted in jest by the cop who recognised him as the comedian.
“This is African second-degree humour, a way of laughing while criticising the system. It’s a kind of resilience.”
Drama school – Project of my life
Born in 1966, Mamane spent his formative years living in foreign capitals with six siblings as their father was a career diplomat. He embarked on a scientific career and moved to France in 1991 to finish a master’s degree in plant physiology.
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But once in Paris, the underbelly of power he observed as a child came to the fore as he took to the stage and honed an act known for tackling touchy topics and lambasting African rulers. Now branching out, Mamane says he plans to take his irreverent stand-up act to the English-speaking world.
“I’m preparing a bilingual show with Anglophone humourists from Nigeria, Cameroon and Rwanda in October,” he said. “I haven’t played in Anglophone countries yet but it’s my next step.”
But his focus is still on the sandy patch of ground which he says one day will help develop a new generation of Nigerien comedians. “This school will grow and it will really be the project of my life,” he said.
UNESCO adds Morroco’s Gnawa culture to list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Gnawa culture, a centuries-old Moroccan practice rooted in music, African rituals and Sufi traditions, has been added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
UNESCO announced this via its Twitter account, on Thursday, December 12, 2019.
Gnawa refers to a “set of musical productions, fraternal practices and therapeutic rituals where the secular mixes with the sacred”, according to the nomination submitted by Morocco.
Often dressed in colourful outfits, Gnawa musicians play the guenbri, a type of lute with three strings, accompanied by steel castanets called krakebs.
They practice “a therapeutic ritual of possession… which takes the form of all-night ceremonies of rhythms and trance combining ancestral African practices, Arab-Muslim influences and native Berber cultural performances. The tradition, which includes the veneration of Islamic holy men, dates back to at least the 16th century.
Originally practised and transmitted by groups and individuals from slavery and the slave trade”, today it is one of the many facets of Moroccan culture and identity.
Gnawa was popularised by a festival that started in 1997 in the southern port city of Essaouira.
Until then, Gnawa brotherhoods had been little known, even marginalised.
Now, they attract waves of fans each year from across the globe to the Gnawa and World Music Festival in Essaouira that highlights a unique mix of musical styles.
Gnawa groups “form associations and organise festivals” year-round, which enable the younger generation “to have knowledge of both the lyrics and musical instruments as well as practices and rituals” linked to Gnawa culture.
10 Safety and Security Tips You Should Note as You Travel this Christmas
How to stay safe during your travels this festive period.
You can’t wait for Christmas to come. You’ve made or are currently making plans of how to make the best out of this Christmas season away from home in a vacation you’ve dreamt about all year long. December is finally here, you remember how you’ve googled the best destinations to travel to and how you finally made a choice. It’s a wonderful feeling.
There’s no doubt that travelling during the festive period can be a whole new level of excitement. However, it’s easy to lose your guard and get caught up in the thrill of Christmas adventures and/or shopping. While you get busy thinking about living your best life away from home, make sure that you don’t neglect travel security with these safety tips.
While you are preparing for your December vacations, like many, you may think you have it all sorted. Do you really have everything sorted out? Let’s look at a few things’ travellers like you should consider when travelling.
Here is a list of 10 safety and security tips that may come in handy as you make final preparations for your December getaway.
As you begin to book your travel, research the destinations you will be visiting beforehand. Take note of risky areas and places you would need to seek out assistance for. Familiarise yourself with emergency numbers and take note of specific country restrictions such as electrical outlet wattage, local customs, traditions and holiday schedules.
The idea here is that while you’d be a stranger visiting the place, probably for the first time, you don’t want to end up being embarrassed or be robbed of a valuable possession. So, research and get a deep insight into the area, the people and be sure of the places you must avoid while vacationing there.
Pack smartly as you travel this Christmas
Only take what you need for the trip and where possible, leave valuable jewellery, clothing and other items at home. According to worldaware.com, “While you should leave unnecessary valuables at home while travelling, it’s important to know how to keep important items as protected as possible”.
Do not leave your valuable items like jewellery in checked bags. They should be in your possession either within your hand luggage or better still, in a waist belt or neck bag. It is equally ideal to have a change of clothes in your hand luggage. This will come in handy if your checked bag(s) gets missing or stolen.
Communicate with family during your trip
As you plan to make that trip, it is also important you tell family and friends about your travel plans and share your itinerary with them beforehand. Make plans for how family, friends and acquaintances can contact you while you’re away. Check-in periodically with family/friends as a basic precaution.
During your vacation, you may change hotels, get on a cab or use other means of transport. You can always share your location with family and friends using the share location feature of Google Maps. If you’re using any cab/ride-hailing service like Uber or Lyft, you should also share your trip with a few family members or friends.
Arrive early at the airport on your travel date
Allocate plenty of time to pass through security checkpoints as high travel volume during the holidays is likely to increase delays. Ensure you have obtained all necessary documents prior to departure including country-specific visas. Where you’re not clear, ensure to get clearance before the day of your trip. Call the airline you’re using or call the agent that helped with your flight/hotel booking.
Prearrange transportation throughout your trip
Typically, this is best done through your hotel or host. App-based rideshare services are also often an acceptable method of travel, though this can vary by location and local restrictions. If using taxis, make sure they are officially licensed. Remember to always share your transport routes and destinations with family and friends.
Don’t stick out or draw unnecessary attention while on vacation
People who look like they’re from out of town are especially vulnerable to crime, so try to blend in as much as you can. Be discreet when looking at maps and approach people carefully if you need to ask for directions. Maintain a low profile to prevent drawing attention to yourself and avoid obvious displays of wealth.
Travel in groups this Christmas
It’s pretty much easier to rob one person than a group of people. So, where possible, plan your trips and vacations in a group. Asides being safer, travelling in a group could be much more fun than you could have travelling solo especially if visiting a foreign language country. So, before finalising your travel plans, find out if there are any organised group packages to your chosen destination.
Know your surroundings and stay current
When on vacation, you should be extra sensitive. If something or someone seems out of place, listen to your gut instinct and remove yourself from the situation or seek help. Stay informed of what’s happening in the area you’re travelling to.
Never carry a lot of cash on you as you travel
Avoid carrying and using too much cash while travelling. As you make plans for your Christmas vacation, consider obtaining a pre-loaded debit card not tied to any of your bank accounts back home. Always keep a small separate amount hidden somewhere on your person in case of emergency. Avoid carrying valuables including tablets, laptops or expensive cameras when out for the day.
Be wary of public Wi-Fi while on your vacation
When you use public Wi-Fi, hackers looking to steal valuable information can access your data including credit card information. If you do need wireless internet service, set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that will allow you to access the internet securely while travelling. You can learn how to stay safe or set up a VPN while using public Wi-Fi here.
6 of the best travel destinations in Africa
Africa is beautiful. Discover places you wouldn’t believe are in Africa.
There is no gainsaying that Africa is mother nature’s favourite as the continent is blessed with immense natural and mineral resources. From deserts to savannahs, rainforests to mountains and waterfalls, name it, the mother continent has it all. No wonder the continent caught the attention of European navigators and explorers who could not resist the diverse richness of Africa.
The continent plays host to the widest variety of natural wonders, fauna and flora as well as peoples and cultures. Among the many endowments are the natural and historic destinations spread all over the continent. Here is a list of 6 natural destinations you just cannot afford to miss.
The Blyde River Canyon, Mpumalanga, South Africa
The canyon which could easily be adjudged the most beautiful canyon in the world stretches a distance of 25 km to the north of the Drakensberg. This beauty of mother nature is located in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The canyon, which consists mostly of red sandstone is located in the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. According to Wikipedia encyclopedia, the highest point of the canyon, Mariespskop is 1,944 metres above sea level. This is about 6,378 ft. The lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 561 metres (1,841 ft) above sea level. Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world and the second-largest in Africa. It is also presumed to be the largest green canyon on earth because of its lush subtropical foliage.
Now, you may wonder, why it made the list as one of the best travel destinations in Africa. Well, here are a few of the reasons:
- Bourkes Luck Pothole: the impressive rocks of the Bourkes Luck Potholes offer tourists an exciting view as it is close to tourists’ viewpoint.
- Hippo Trail: this magnificent trail into the Blyde River Canyon is worth every second of your time spent on hiking on it. So, lace up your hiking boots and hit the Hippo Trail.
- God’s Window: need just the perfect photo souvenir to take home from the Canyon? Then think no more! Get your phone or camera and walk down to God’s Window for your beautiful pictures. You’ll get the opportunity of capturing panoramic views that spread all the way down to the Kruger National Park. You can even see Mozambique from this point!
Ensure you wrap up your stay in South Africa with a tour of the Blyde River Canyon next time you visit.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
You have denied yourself a great deal of adventure and pleasure if you are a safari lover but have not visited the beauty that lies in the East African country of Tanzania. Tanzania’s oldest and largest national park, Serengeti National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It hosts the world’s most spectacular annual wildlife migration, which comprises of about two million wildebeest as well as thousands of Zebras.
It is also credited for hosting Africa’s largest lion population, with an estimate of 3000 lions. Other wildlife in the Serengeti includes buffalos, elephants and giraffes. The Serengeti National Park will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Etosha National Park, Namibia
Located in Namibia, in southern Africa, is the Etosha National Park. The country’s flagship reserve is best known for the vast dry pan for which it is named. It’s prominent for its role in preserving black rhinos, leopards, elephants and lions. The best time to visit Etosha is during the dry season. Any time from April to October is perfect. But tourists can also visit during any other time. There are both government-run camps and exclusive camps for accommodations.
Siemens National Park, Ethiopia
Formed by the massive erosion that affected the Ethiopian plateau for many years, the Siemens National Park has transitioned from erosion rubble to one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. Adorned with jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys and sharp cliffs, Siemens National Park is home to a number of rare animals such as the Gelada baboon, the Simien fox and the Walia ibex, a goat found nowhere else in the world.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating they say. So for you to fully capture the idea and appreciate all that Siemens National Park has in stock then you should start rescheduling to include Ethiopia on your travel to-do list
Yankari National Park, Nigeria
The large wildlife park which is located in the south-central part of Bauchi State, in Northern Nigeria covers an area of about 2,244 square kilometres. It is home to several natural springs. It is also famous for the many varieties of flowers found there.
For decades, Yankari National Park formerly a reserve, has played host to thousands of tourists. The park has been ranked as the most popular tourist destination in Nigeria. Because of this, the park plays a significant role in the development and promotion of tourism and ecotourism in Nigeria. It is one of the most popular eco-destinations in Africa.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Located in the Northeastern region of South Africa lies the Kruger National Park. This park which is widely adjudged as one of the largest game reserves in Africa is famous for its high density of wild animals. These animals, referred to as the big 5, are lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. But the park is not the exclusive reserve of the big 5 as hundreds of other animals also inhabit the plains of the park. It covers an area of 19,485 km. Kruger National Park is the right destination for your getaway trips if you really want to walk on the wide side.
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