Beat FM OAP and Celebrity compere, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi was one of the selected journalists who attended the recently concluded MTV Africa All stars concert in Durban, South Africa and has shared her personal experience of the four-day trip.
I was invited by MTV Base &KwaZulu Natal province to attend the grand finale of African All Stars Concert in Durban, South Africa. I sorted out my travel documents and eagerly awaited the trip. This would be my first proper trip to another African Country. I have been to Kenya once but it was a stop over trip on the way to Dubai. I used to feel a little ashamed of visiting other countries in other continents often but not Africa.
I got to the Muritala Mohammed airport extra early and I still had to queue! I hate queuing! I checked, went through security and was SO ready to get out of Lagos.
The flight there was smooth and uneventful. When we got to Johannesburg, I met up with the crew- Onos, Chuks, Omaliicha and Colette. Our first port of call was the Bureau de Change to change our money to South African Currency. I got my rands and I thought I was “balling” (as rappers say) Lol.
The flight to Johannesburg was very short. We were soon in Durban. Our airport pickup crew was there to welcome us. We loaded up our suitcases and we were off to our hotel. The rest of the crew made fun of me because I had two suitcases and my handbag. What can I say? I don’t pack light!
I was looking forward to going shopping at a REAL MALL!! Everyone who knows me knows I LOVE shopping!!
We had a mini discussion about men & women’s relationships in Nigeria and our society’s obsession with marriage.
I observed that the roads were smooth, traffic lights worked and the policemen were not carrying weapons or at least not brandishing them.
The Van pulled up in front of the Southern Sun Hotel, Elangeni. It’s a beautiful sea side hotel. One word – Serenity.
While we waited for our keys, we were informed that we had 2 hours to get ready for a trip to Ghost Mountain Safari. Again, I was excited. I had never been to a zoo, let alone a safari.
I noticed Onos was smiling a little bit too widely at one of the beautiful ladies helping us out at the reception. I decided to help him out by starting a conversation with her. I asked how to pronounce her name and she said “Thobeka”. I asked the meaning and she said “To be humble”. I expected Onos to take it from there but he stood there grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat.
At this point, I said “You are on your own o”. The crew agreed to meet in 15 mins, with the exception of Colette, who had to work. I loved my room! Very neat, cosy and my view was breathtaking.
We went in search of SIM cards and food. Luckily for us, there was a KFC and SPAR down the road. After buying the SIM cards, we had to RECA them (basically register them) All it required was a letter from the hotel manager identifying us.
No picture taking required. We proceeded to KFC where ate till we could barely move. We had only one hour to prepare , so I took a hot shower and packed a small overnight bag.
By the time I got downstairs, our crew had expanded. There were 3 journalists from Kenya, a guy from the U.K, a lady from the Netherlands and others.
We were introduced to an elderly white woman from Argentina (Mercedes). She was our very knowledgeable tour guide. There was hardly a question about South Africa and Zulu land specifically that she could not answer. We had a few stops on the way for bathroom breaks and so on.
After 31/2 hours, we got to Ghost Mountain Lodge finally! I must confess that the long drive was not stressful at all, it was a smooth drive all way with no potholes, no traffic or checkpoints.
The staff at the lodge were very gracious. We were welcomed with a tall chilled glass of juice. We were shown to our rooms and asked to meet at 8pm for dinner. The room was cute.
We had dinner outdoors, there was a nice selection of meats, salads and sweets. Anyone who knows me knows that food is my first love. I ate well and enjoyed the performance of the Zulu dancers. They performed energetically for over an hour. There were two topless women dancing amongst them as well The men had an eyeful!
I swear as soon as my head hit the pillow, I heard the room phone ring. Wake up call at 4.30am!! I reluctantly dragged myself to take a shower and pack up my belongings. I made it to the lobby at exactly 5am. I was one of the first to get there. Some members of the crew had to be woken up, they didn’t pick up their room phones and had to be woken up with loud knocking on their doors.
I had on a thick long sleeve sweater, a blazer and a pair of jeans. I was shivering. It was quite cold. The crew was split into two groups and we got into open jeeps and headed for the Safari. Our group was fortunate enough to spot lions, giraffes, elephants, Hyena’s, Buffalo, monkeys and a few birds. We had a situation where one of the lions roared and Kola (part of the crew) nearly peed his pants! It was hilarious!
We were treated to a lovely breakfast outdoors. Yummy pastries, crackers, fruits, youghurts, breakfast bars , juice and coffee.
After about an hour of driving around the Safari and spotting more animals, we boarded our bus and drove back to The Southern Sun hotel. It was a peaceful 3hours plus ride for me as I slept through most of it.
There was a fashion show and party at a club called “Moyo”. We had roughly one hour to get dressed. On getting there, we learned that the fashion show was cancelled due to weather conditions (It was raining) . The party was nice. Lots of South African socialites (a lively bunch with eccentric outfits) There were free drinks and canapés all night. The only glitch was the DJ. He played South African house music all night. I like South African House. I often play various S.A house hits on my radio show. It was odd not to hear any other music all night. I knew it was time to leave when I started to doze off, not from boredom but from fatigue.
I was glad when the bus came to take us all back to the hotel. On the way back, I plotted with the rest of the crew. Anita from BHM had joined us by then. The plan was to have breakfast, then go bungee jumping at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and then go to the mall. I was most excited about the mall. Don’t judge me! I had not been to a real mall for real shopping in over 6months! I was fiending!
The next morning, we had breakfast but could not bungee jump much to our disappointment because there was a soccer match scheduled for that day. We made reservations for the next morning and proceeded to the mall. At the mall, we exchanged numbers and agreed to meet up later. We all split. I spotted a MAC store and that was my first port of call. I bought some makeup, then proceeded to another store where I bought sunshades. I went to various stores and was able to purchase a few things before the rest of the crew summoned me. It was time to head back to the hotel. I was a lit bit sad as I had only tackled the ground floor of the mall. I didn’t even get to check the other floors.
We got to the hotel and it was almost time to head to the stadium for the concert. Lets just say that by the time I was ready, the bus had left! I called a cab and got to the concert in good time! Just as Camp Mulla was opening the show.
I enjoyed watching the locals almost as much as I enjoyed the performances. The audience was enthusiastic, the stage gigantic and very colorful! Trust MTV! Free drinks and food + Ice Cream all night at the VIP tent! Nigerian event planners/promoters should take note! I even took pictures of a guest who had too much to drink and decided to take a nap on the floor! PIC
By midnight, the show was over and we all headed to the hotel. At this point, the realization that we might never see our new friends again dawned on us all and we started to exchange contact details.
We never got to bungee jump as our flight was 9am in the morning and we had to be at the airport by 8. We made it to the airport and realized our flight had been dlayed for 30mins. 2face Idibia was on our flight, so we seized the opportunity to interview him. Snoop Lion was also on our flight and I took the quickest picture I have ever taken of anything/anyone .
The flight from Johannesburg to Lagos is where things got really interesting. The pilot had to turn back to Johannesburg because there was a fault with one of the ovens. We had to disembark and then get back on. I slept fitfully thanks to the wailing infants a few seats away.
We landed in Lagos at 11.30am but I didn’t get my luggage till past 1am. As exhausted as I was, I would do it all allover again! It was a fun trip, I made new friends from all over the world, I saw Snoop Lion perform but most importantly, I got to experience South Africa. A beautiful country with wonderful people. I’m definitely going back! PIC