PEACE AND STABILITY FOR
INCLUSIVE GROWTH FOR AFRICA SAYS SEYCHELLES PRESIDENT
June 03, 2013
“Peace and stability are the platforms on which we can build
truly inclusive growth for Africa, and we salute the efforts of
Japan which complement those of our African Union,” said
Seychelles President James Michel.
Dividend: Tours and Pilgrimages
salute African Culture
by Jerry W.
rooted is perhaps the most important and least
recognized need of the human soul." Simone
author Alex Haley lit the spark with his epic novel and TV
series "Roots," as millions now look to Africa as their new
Mecca. How big is this new-found tourism bonanza? According
to President Clinton, 30 million Americans, more than one in
ten, proudly trace their heritage to Africa. Since Caribbean
and South American ties are equally strong, today's cultural
tours and pilgrimages to Africa involve people from the
entire hemisphere and various religious faiths. As African
Cultural and Genealogical web sites spring up like lilies of
the field, Black History Month has become today's hot item,
causing several African airlines to offer low February
fares. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has led the way
towards a program that will link the "Slave Route" to
regional programs of cultural tourism development -
restoration monuments and historic sites, promoting museums,
festivals and events.
tours include Benin's historic villages, Senegal's Goree
Island, Ghana's Elmina Castle, a slave forts built by the
Portuguese in 1482, Juffereh in The Gambia, the prison cells
of Zanzibar and many other sites, including South Africa's
Cape. A key idea at a recent focus group I attended was the
dedication of Peace Parks on Africa's Slave Route. Blacky
Komani, Manager North America, South Africa Tourist Board
welcomed the idea as follows:. "The Worst enemies of any
major tourism growth are the local people who do not
perceive tourism as beneficial to themselves. The concept of
a Peace Park in South Africa is a major step towards
realization that tourism knows no boundaries, and that it
creates harmony amongst all people."
and writer Muguette Goufrani spent a full day at Togo's
Akodessewas, the world's largest fetish market. Its array of
sorcerers' potions included roots, bark, monkey skulls, wart
hog teeth, porcupine skins, leopard hides, antelope horns,
bones of crocodiles, horses, pigs and monkeys, plus various
parts of human anatomy. Just like western style pharmacies
dispense syrups, powders and pills, West African concoctions
are used to cure everything from diarrhea and flu, to cuts,
impotence and rheumatism.
Muguette tried on a
gris gris (necklace), which is said to work its magic when
blessed by a fetish priest. Part doctor, part psychic, the
priest relies on herbal medicines, charms and a healthy dose
of positive thinking. As Muguette says, "They believe that
the spirits are everywhere -- in the air, the trees, the
water - even buildings. A priest calls on his favorite god
to predict future events, and keep evil forces at bay. He
sits on a stool in his colorful robe, holding a regal staff,
receiving gifts of gin, which he sips as a troupe performs
ritual chanting and dancing. A sacrificial offering is made
as a show of loyalty and respect to the spirits, and to gain
special favors, such as the birth of twins. "
When we visited
Benin, Muguette had just returned from Haiti and saw close
similarities in beliefs between Caribbeans and villagers we
met in Abomey, Ganvie and Ouidah. There we walked reverently
through a sacred forest, saw the thrones and regalia of a
long succession of Dahomey royalty, and dined with village
What was the common
denominator in the various African countries we visited in
the last 5 years? All were sharing tourism dividends brought
by a decade or more of peace and political stability. May
this be a lesson for other African countries that Peace
Through Tourism is truly achievable.
in Ethiopia: Queen of Sheba's
by Jerry W.
This spring in
Ethiopia, the desire for 'peace through tourism' was in the
air, written on the faces, and evident in the words of
everyone we met. Arriving via Ethiopian Airlines from New
York, we flew the country's Holy Route, with overnight stops
at Lalibela, Gondar, Bahir Dar, Dire Dawa and Harar. Here on
a journey into history, we visited stone churches carved out
of the mountain-face, and strolled amongst the castles and
moats of Africa's Camelot. Cruising Lake Tana, we discovered
a hidden monastery and followed a fleet of papyrus canoes
carrying firewood to market. Later, we gazed down upon the
legendary Blue Nile, toured Emperor Haile Selassie's Palace,
and boarded his royal railway coaches. Others in our group
visited Dire Dawa and the walled city of Harar, a site right
out of Arabian Nights. Captured in our cameras were hundreds
of faces and dozens of places we will never forget.
In Addis Ababa, the
capital, we took part in a live media interview. I gave them
my feelings that Ethiopia is a safe and friendly
destination, with an abundance of attractions, a rich
history, natural beauty and a superb climate. My most
unforgettable moment was at Holy Trinity Church in Addis
Ababa, with its spiritual presence, rich pageantry and 500
voices united in prayer and celebration. The magnificent
setting, exotic musical renditions and blaze of colorful
costumes were a marvelous salute to peace and goodwill. This
event was a sample of the many festivals and celebrations
that occur year round in a country where religious tolerance
is a way of life.
Further proof that
Ethiopia is prepared to welcome visitors in a big way, is
the number and quality of tour operators and guides we met
during our 3-week visit. In addition to staying at a range
of hotels, from tourist to luxury class, interviews with
several developers revealed plans for many new hotels,
resorts and safari lodges. Things are definitely on an
upswing thanks to the rewards of tourism in a new era of
a rage farm weekends and wine country tours have become, why
not consider tours of East African coffee plantations?
Considering the almost religious significance of this
valuable crop in much of East Africa it seems as natural a
tourism option as dude ranches in Texas.
How did it all begin?
According to an old Ethiopian legend , when a young herdsman
noticed his goats became quite frisky after dining on a
clump of bright red berries, he sampled a handful and found
that they caused a similar effect. Anxious to share the
secret, he told a local monk, who found that the berries
kept him and his fellow monks more alert during evening
prayers. Thus a popular custom was born and a vast
industry created. In Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, coffee
has long been considered a medicine, a food and a beverage.
The coffee ceremony has special significance, as we first
learned at a trade show in Tanzania, in travel throughout
Ethiopia and working with Kenya Tourism on its latest North
Information: http://www.africa-ata/coffee.htm, e-mail:
http://www.africa-ata.org/ethiopia, e-mail: email@example.com
At the Hilton
Addis Ababa this spring, we joined Mr. Louis D'Amore's focus
group to explore various concepts, including the dedication
of "Peace Parks " around the World. Here in Harmony with
Nature, individuals can truly call themselves Peaceful
Travelers. In each of these parks, I would suggest there be
a bronze plaque on which would be engraved, the Institute's
Credo of the Peaceful Traveler. It is expressed in the
following affirmation :
"Grateful for the
opportunity to travel and experience the world and because
peace begins with the individual, I affirm my personal
responsibility and commitment to:
(1) Journey with an open mind and gentle heart.
(2) Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I
(3) Revere and protect the natural environment which
sustains all life.
(4) Appreciate all cultures I discover.
(5) Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome.
(6) Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet.
(7) Support travel services that share these views and act
upon them and, by my spirit, words and actions.
(8) Encourage others to travel the world in
With those thoughtful
words as your guide, you are better prepared to face the
Protecting Africa's Serengeti
by Jerry W.
To see that Tanzania is enjoying the fruits of peace, look
no further than its booming Safari trade. Having lived in
the sub arctic wilderness, I've seen my share of wild
animals up close. But until we flew into Kilimanjaro
International Airport, and took a side trip to the Serengeti
Plain, did II witness anything like the endless stretch of
wildebeest and zebra we saw on our first safari.
Like a cinemascope movie, Africa's Animal Empire filled the
scene, then fanned out in all directions on the far horizon;
to the Tanzania - Kenya border, or to Lake Victoria and
beyond. And what performers these four legged actors were;
prancing about like TV wrestlers, snorting and butting
heads, as if they knew they were the stars of our show. On a
rocky knoll nearby, a pride of lions lolled lazily, like
cruise passengers on deck chairs, surveying the situation,
as they stood by for the evening dinner gong. Staring at us
curiously, this shaggy crew was perfectly cast for the scene
to follow, as were the two cheetahs lying couched in the
tall grass near the Serengeti airport. In a few hours,
traversing the countryside by Land Rover, courtesy of
Serena's Serengeti Lodge, we were able to spot at least a
dozen recognizable species, including several from the Big
Five category. As a matter of fact, as seen from the air,
every water hole from Arusha, to the Ngorongo Crater and
Rift Valley, was surrounded by animals of every size and
stripe. Before she could land Regional Airlines' Twin Otter,
pilot Iris McCallum had to buzz the airstrip several times
to scare away the critters.
Information: http://www.africa-ata.org/animals.htm, e-mail:
by Jerry W. Bird
Africa: Educator and humanitarian, Dr. Jose Lopes of
'Africahouse' in Maputo, has witnessed the vital role
tourism plays in bringing people together. Despite
long-standing conflicts with this former East African
colony, the Portuguese are returning. On a larger scale and
of more recent note, white South Africans, sworn for decades
during apartheid, are once again flocking to Mozambique's
balmy beaches and 1500 miles of Indian Ocean coastline.
"Today, via tourism," says Dr. Lopes "peace is gaining at a
very fast pace, and as Nelson Mandela says, let bygones be
of Wonz Dar Expeditions of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia echoes
these sentiments. "Mozambique is a wonderful country, " he
says. An expert river guide, Mario has explored its
challenging rivers, and has just returned from a similar
adventure in Madagascar. To him, rivers are Africa's
historic highways, which transcend all man made borders. He
welcomes the end of hostilities, from the horn of Africa to
its southernmost regions.
Voice for Peace
by Jerry W. Bird
"Prejudices about a
country or its people can best be removed by visiting the
place. The stone walls of prejudice and indifference are
crumbling fast, as vast areas of the world, including much
of Africa, open their doors to tourism. Today's need for
solid partnerships and workable action plans has become
front and center."
To me the concept of
"Peace Through Tourism" goes back ten years, when I was
asked to help launch a magazine on this fascinating topic. I
was inspired by the example of founder Louis D'Amore and how
he had recruited persons of influence worldwide. However
these lofty plans were shelved by our employer. But fate
stepped in, and 7 years later in Accra, Ghana, when I met
Mr. D' Amore, we became friends on sight. Thus I volunteered
to work with Ghana's Tourism Minister, Hon. Mike Gizo, on
the keynote address for a Peace Summit in Scotland.
We called it
"Building Bridges Between Developed and Undeveloped
Countries., " using the analogy of six swinging bridges at
Ghana's Kakum National Forest. The various bridges
represented Awareness, Understanding, Opportunity,
Enterprise, Prosperity and the bridging of Time and Space.
By connecting all six bridges, Peace through Tourism will be
achieved. I tried crossing the actual bridges, and can vouch
for the fact that it's not always an easy task. Kakum
National Forest and the magnificent Gold Coast nearby, with
its beaches and historic castles, are two of the many
reasons to put Ghana on your travel agenda.