Travel: Reviving Culture Through Travel

 

In the past, travelling was a thing of luxury or for one of the following reasons – holidays, going back to your hometown for Christmas, weddings or funerals. It was the only time people made a conscious effort to leave their immediate environment and go on an adventure. This is no longer the status quo and this has been influenced by the words and images of blogs.

Tanzania is a compelling travel destination thanks to gotoafrica.com which highlights the scenery of the country. Its diversity lies in its wildlife, cultures and natural, scenic beauty. From the sweeping savannah of the Serengeti to the flamingo-lined shores of Lake Manyara, world wonder Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest peak). It also offers safari-and-beach combinations due to its long tropical coastline and coral-ringed islands. It is also home to attractions such as chimpanzee trekking in the rainforests of Mahale and Gombe, and game viewing in the far-flung wildernesses of Katavi, Ruaha and Selous. Its greatest wildlife attraction is the Great Migration, which sees a million wildebeest and zebra follow seasonal rains across the Serengeti each year.

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Who knew you could go hiking in Nigeria? We did, but did you? This visit to Oke-Ado Mountain in Oyo state was made by blogger Naija Treks and her companions with a quest to get to the top mountain. The trip starts with getting to the town of Ado Awaye, also known for the famous Ilasa soup said to be responsible for the profusion of multiple births. First stop on the hike to the top was the Ishagi rock foundation, a ritual spot for the natives, next stop was the Iyaka suspended lake which is a rare work of nature. On to the elephant tree, as the name implies is weirdly shaped like an elephant. Final stop on this journey through Oyo’s finest attractions is the top of the mountain where you can enjoy the view of rusted roofs, nature and get relief from the hike.

 

The lost Great City of Benin has not been vividly captured as it has been in the words of saveourtreasures.com which highlights the story of one of the oldest and most highly developed states in West Africa, dating back to the eleventh century. The 1974 edition of the Guinness Book of Records described the walls of Benin City and its surrounding kingdom as the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era. According to estimates by the New Scientist’s Fred Pearce, Benin City’s walls were at one point “four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops”. Barely any trace of these walls exists today.

 

The city was also one of the first cities to have a semblance of street lighting. Mathematician Ron Eglash, author of African Fractals – which examines the patterns underpinning architecture, art and design in many parts of Africa – notes that the city and its surrounding villages were purposely laid out to form perfect fractals, with similar shapes repeated in the rooms of each house, and the house itself, and the clusters of houses in the village in mathematically predictable patterns. Life in Benin City at that time consisted of large crowds going through even larger streets, with people colourfully dressed – some in white, others in yellow, blue or green.

The architecture of Benin City was advanced according to history as well as its artwork which surrounded the city. The beauty of the city attracted visitors from all parts of Europe, with ever glowing testimonies, recorded in numerous voyage notes and illustrations.

The great Benin City however, is now lost to history. This is due to internal conflicts in the 15th century linked to the increasing European intrusion and slavery trade at the borders of the Benin Empire. The city was destroyed by British soldiers who looted it, blew it up and burnt it to the ground in 1897. The location of the walls and moats are nowhere to be seen and tourists are often shown places that might once have been part of the ancient city. A glimpse of the past of the ancient Benin kingdom can be seen in the Benin Bronze Sculptures section of the British Museum in central London.

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