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An Artist Colony Thrives in the South African Desert        

South African Desert

In the desert of the Karoo, well off he beaten trail between Joburg and Cape Town lies Prince Albert, a true oasis of beauty and culture. The village, Prince Albert, sometimes has the look of a sleepy frontier settlement out of the old American West, but it is known among travel connoisseurs for pristine examples of 19th-century Cape Dutch architecture, with their signature rounded gables, and for tasty figs and olives, and grazing sheep that are raised for mohair and the most tender lamb. Improbably, in recent decades, a lively colony of artists and crafts makers has sprung up there. Tourists are increasingly finding their way there just as the village is increasingly finding ways to entice European, Asian and American travelers who can now visit South Africa without the discomfort of spending money in a land under the chokehold of apartheid.


The Upside Down Hotel Said to Have Inspired Star Wars Faces Demolition

Upside Down Hotel

All the rage when it opened in 1973, Tunis’ Hotel du Lac has fallen on hard times.  Although it once served as inspiration for Star Wars, the only force that may now be with it is that of the wrecking ball.     Much of the shooting for the original Star Wars movies took place in Tunisia, and legend has it that one local landmark made a powerful impression on its creator, George Lucas. The influence of Hotel du Lac in Tunis, shaped like an upside-down pyramid with serrated edges, would later be seen in the fictional Sandcrawler vehicle used by the Jawas of the Tatooine desert planet in the film. The brutalist hotel designed by Italian architect Raffaele Contigiani features 416 rooms across ten floors of increasing width. In February, architect and activist Sami Aloulou announced on a famous Tunisian radio station that the hotel was scheduled for imminent demolition. Aloulou’s statement prompted an outcry on social media from architecture lovers. A petition was swiftly launched to save “one of Tunisia’s premier brutalist structures – important to the country and to the world.


8 Cultural Events You Can’t Miss This April in South Africa

SA Cultural Events

The arts and culture scene is huge in South Africa this April, and these are a few of the top events that should be on your calendar. For all the Sam Smith fans, get ready because the multiple Grammy award-winning soul singer is heading to South Africa for a concert that will go down as one for the books. You’ll be singing along to hit songs like “Too Good at Goodbyes”, “Pray” and other surprise performances that Smith has in store. AfrikaBurn is the South African version of the Burning Man festival in the United States. The event, which is in its 12th year, involves the creation of temporary artworks in the Tankwa Karoo—a semi-desert region in South Africa. Cape Town Fashion Week will see designers from all over the African continent will be showcasing exciting collections of colorful and cosmopolitan looks on the runway. Described as South Africa’s biggest hip-hop gathering, Back to the City promises to deliver the hottest lineup of the most talented mainstream and underground hip-hop African and US artists


Bright Dimba’s Products Put a Spotlight on Traditional Craft

Bright Dimba's Products

See the beautiful housewares of Dukada, the product design firm that celebrates the unique talents of African craftswomen from Kwazulu-Natal. For homeware and interior designer Bright Dimba, it has always been about more than just creating aesthetically pleasing products. For him, it’s about bringing acknowledgement back to traditional craft and promoting a new wave of craftsmanship in modern South Africa. With this collaboration, Dimba works together with these local craftswomen in the design and production of his unique, handwoven, colourful furniture products. He turned to them because of their familiarity with traditional weaving practices. “I needed prototypes made for the designs that I had conceptualised around the curiosity of wire woven products that are functional, while retaining the familiar African decorative aesthetic. For a successful representation of the weaving technique I had to identify people who were familiar with the practice of telephone wire weaving,” he explains.


How Senegal’s Waalo Female Warriors Resisted Colonisation from the 11th to 19th Centuries

Waalo Female Warriors

Although not as well known as the Dahomey Amazon warriors that inspired the female characters in Black Panther, Senegal’s Waalo were an incredibly fierce and resourceful society that held back the forces of colonialism for centuries. Several sources indicate that the Waalo female warriors were set up as early as the start of the Waalo kingdom in the 11th century or just a few years after. Although there are no known recorded facts to prove this apart from conclusion from sources, they were surely in existence before the 17th century when the Dahomey Warriors were set up. Like every army, Waalo female warriors were trained at an early age and prepared for war. While some guarded the kingdom, others also served the royal women in the palace and a Queen or Princess was their head often leading them into battle. In 1820, under the lead of Queen Fatim Yamar Khuri Yaye Mbodj, the Waalo female warriors defeated the Moors who took advantage of the absence of the King and the male army. In 1820, under the lead of Queen Fatim Yamar Khuri Yaye Mbodj, the Waalo female warriors defeated the Moors who took advantage of the absence of the King and the male army.


The African Carnival Everyone Needs to Attend

African Carnival

The streets of Mindelo in the island of Sao Vicente in the North of Cape Verde come alive for the first weeks of March every year for Carnival. Sao Vicente is one of 10 islands in Cape Verde, best known as the home of the legendary musician, Cesaria Evora. Officially, carnival in Mindelo, Sao Vicente lasts a week, but locals will tell you Carnival fever begins as early as the end of the previous year. While Sao Vicente’s population is 80,000 people, the league which organized this year’s carnival (LIGOCSV) gave an unconfirmed estimate of as many as 50,000 additional visitors to the island for the carnival. This includes visitors from all the other nine islands in Cape Verde in addition to international visitors and press. The estimate is based on the fact that as early as end of December 2018, most hotels and other accommodation were fully booked. All flights to Sao Vicente were full. The country’s second largest island in terms of population has gone from being a mostly uninhabited island until the mid to late 19th century to becoming a cultural powerhouse attracting thousands of visitors to the country each year.


Ocean Pools for your Seaside Break

Ocean Pools

Sometimes we crave the sensation of plunging into the ocean, waves breaking over our heads, the deeps beneath our feet. But other times we want a more ‘contained’ seaside swim – the same elemental experience, but with the luxury of being able to touch the bottom (and maybe even grab a hot shower after). Facing the chilly Atlantic at the edge of suburban Cape Town, Sea Point Pavilion is a splashy, noisy, summer-long swim party. It’s got a lap pool, a diving pool and two kiddie pools – all saltwater, with some refreshingly fed directly from the adjacent ocean. When you’re ready to dry off, spread out on the lawn with a picnic and a cold soda from one of the park vendors, and watch the clouds floating above the peak of Lion’s Head. It’s hard to imagine a more scenic public pool in either hemisphere; not to mention – no sharks!


10 Best Foodie Destinations in Africa

Foodie Destinations in Africa

African cuisine is as diverse and fascinating as the continent’s history, cultures, and traditions. Kenya offers a variety of yummy dishes too, and one of them is nyama choma, Kiswahili for roasted meat. No spices here – the meat is only seasoned with salt and slow-grilled over hot coals until it’s tender and ready to please your palate. While everything from chicken to beef makes for good nyama choma, the favourite is always goat meat, both for its distinct taste and chewiness. Nyama choma is always good companions with a relish of thinly sliced raw tomatoes and onion, and goes down well with a cold local Tusker beer. You can also pair nyama choma with irio, a highly nutritious dish made from mashed potatoes, green peas, corn, and pumpkin leaves.


Smart New Places to Stay in São Tomé and Príncipe 

São Tomé and Príncipe

Off the coast of Gabon, 140 miles adrift in the Atlantic, Príncipe is a jungled, mountainous speck of land about 20 miles by five. Settled in the 15th century by Portuguese mariners, much of it was turned over to cacao plantations. Since independence in 1975, many have been abandoned, slowly returning to nature, until the whole island was designated a UNESCO Bio Reserve in 2012. It now has more endemic species per square mile than anywhere else on Earth. Príncipe first caught our attention the following year, when South African tech billionaire Mark Shuttleworth opened Bom Bom Island lodge on one of its islets. With its name aptly meaning ‘good, good’, Bom Bom was conceived of as part of a more ambitious project for Príncipe: sustainable development in partnership with the local authorities.


Astro-tourism Identified as a Growth Area in Southern Africa

Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park

The !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park has just been designated as an International Dark Sky Area to preserve cultural tradition and animal conservation. The park, a portion of the Kgalagadi’s 38,000 square kilometres, was created in 2002 through a land claim awarded to the ǂKhomani San and Mier peoples, comprising 50,000 hectares of remote, unspoiled, semi-desert savannah, much of which is ancestral land. Currently the !Xaus Lodge is the only place in the heritage park to have a permanent lighting system. The air and sky is very nearly free of pollutants, especially light pollution. Dark-sky reserves are commonly situated near observatories to avoid disturbance from unnatural light sources, but are based in some protected areas for cultural and environmental reasons.


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