Delivered by DHL
From a pastry chef in Lesotho who has managed to sustain his business for five decades, to a group of musicians from rural Zimbabwe who rose to global fame – Southern Africa has no shortage of resourceful people grabbing life by the horns.
Over the past month the DHL Africa as One team came across many of these individuals. Their tour, delivered by DHL, comprises seven people in three Land Rover Discoveries aiming to pass a single rugby ball from hand to hand through 45 countries, over 11 months.
Starting in Cape Town and ending in London for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the goal is to promote the game across the continent while capturing every part of the journey on video, in photographs and words.
The tour is, however, not just about rugby, but also about showcasing Africa and its remarkable people. Although still in the early stages of their journey, the team has already met numerous entrepreneurial people making the most with the resources they have.
Lesotho – feeding the Mountain Kingdom
Their first visit was the kingdom of Lesotho, completely landlocked within South Africa’s borders. The team travelled through majestic mountains to the capital Maseru.
Here they met a resilient entrepreneur, Nkole Motaung, who started his baking business 51 years ago. One of his most popular items is fried dough bread, or magwinya, which he sells around town.
He credits the longevity of his business to the products being relatively inexpensive to make, and thus affordable to the average person.
Swaziland – productive, talented hands
Many entrepreneurs here make a living by using their hands – from a stone mason sculpting beautiful figures of animals next to the road, to a chef preparing delicious local fare.
The team visited a glass factory where a dozen men and women work in a relatively small space. They are holding metal rods, the ends of which glow brightly in the low light as they manipulate the melted glass to create beautiful glass giraffes, swans and hippos.
“It makes us happy that we can use our hands to make things that other people can use,” says James Magagula, one of the glass blowers.
The following day the team hooked up with Mildred Makahamadze, founder of Middy Fashions, who produces colourful clothing with bold patterns and lovely textures. She later suggested they visit another of Swaziland’s treasures – the eDladleni restaurant outside Mbabane, run by passionate owner Dolores Godeffroy and ranked by TripAdvisor as the capital’s top eatery.
Godeffroy’s mission is to increase awareness about the richness and the diversity of traditional Swazi foods, especially at a time when unhealthy western food is becoming more popular.
Zimbabwe – exporting African music to the world
Following a frustrating three hours at the infamously slow Beit Bridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe, the Africa as One team finally made it into Zimbabwe.
After spending a few of days driving up to the Great Zimbabwe ruins and the Victoria Falls, they arrived in the capital Harare. One evening, at The Book Café, they witnessed one of Zimbabwe’s top exports in action, local afro-fusion band Mokoomba.
Mokoomba’s members come from a rural area close to the Falls. But through perseverance and hard work, has taken its brand of music to stages across the world, including Europe and Asia. London’s The Guardian newspaper described Mokoomba as “Africa’s most internationally successful young band after a rise that is as deserved as it has been remarkable”.
And after a night of grooving to the sounds of Mokoomba, everyone in the team had a new favourite band!
Malawi – living off the lake
From Zimbabwe they travelled through the eastern corner of Mozambique into Malawi, known as the ‘warm heart of Africa’. Lake Malawi is the county’s most famous tourist attraction, but the team soon discovered it also plays a vital economic role.
When they first arrived at the Lake they were greeted by ‘traders’ who make their living touting goods to tourists. One cool gent in dark sunglasses, named Nixon, managed to sell them a fishing expedition, promising he’d cook whatever he caught. Forty minutes and three fish later, lunch was sorted!
Lake Malawi is an important resource to everyone in the area. For those living around the lake, the daily grind starts as 6am as the adults collect the fish trapped in nets during the night.
The next stop for the Africa as One team is Tanzania. They still have a large part of the continent to cover, but are already amazed by the resourcefulness of the region’s craftspeople, traders, fishermen, artists and entrepreneurs.