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Improving the safari product in South Africa

Improving the safari product in South Africa

Old Jan 22nd 2007, 1:33 am
  #1  
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Default Improving the safari product in South Africa

Kicking off with a re-post from the "Kruger Again" thread, to get us
started...

Corn´┐Ż wrote:
> Kurt wrote: "and that Kruger and private reserves were
> created in the last century in South Africa by kicking local people off"

> The above statement is pure nonsense, and I defy you to justify it with
> a factual argument. If you care to do so, I suggest a new thread.

> Corn´┐Ż.

1. There were no Europeans residing in present-day South Africa prior
to the 17th century, yet extensive archaeological evidence shows
habitation across the region for thousands of years prior (e.g.,
Mapungubwe, Thuthlane and hundreds of iron age and stone age sites).
Hence, there were local African people resident all across the country,
including Khoekhoe pastoralists and San hunter-gatherers before and
after the pre-11th century migration of Nguni-language speaking black
Africans along the Shashe-Limpopo valley and into what is now South
Africa. All sizable tracts of land privately owned (by any entity) in
the colonial era (post 17th century) that did not have local people on
it (or using it for agriculture, hunting or grazing -- especially in
the settled, agrarian Kruger-region of the country) was therefore, de
facto, cleared. That is, the local people were 'kicked off'.

2. The instance with the greatest press coverage in recent years was
the Makuleke tribe, who were forcibly removed from the northern extreme
of the Kruger National Park in 1969 and in 1996 instituted a land
claim. Documentation of this process can be read in "Land Claims and
National Parks - the Makuleke Experience", Bertus de Villiers, Human
Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, 1999. Softcover, ISBN
0-7969-1894-5. This is but one example, and there are many different
such claims outlined at http://www.kruger2canyons.com/restitution.htm
as well as in the publication "Blood and Soil: Land, Politics and
Conflict Prevention in Zimbabwe and South Africa" published in 2004.
There's also another book by Bertus de Villiers, titled "Land Reform:
Issues and Challenges" from 2003 that gives the region (among others)
thorough treatment.

[edited addition from the original:]
A friendly suggestion...putting your "Township Tour" in the context of
just this kind of history, pre-history and cultural setting would be a
good move in the right direction, and I bet your tourists would love
it.

Kurt
 
Old Jan 23rd 2007, 5:18 pm
  #2  
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Default Re: Improving the safari product in South Africa

In article <[email protected] .com>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:

> Kicking off with a re-post from the "Kruger Again" thread, to get us
> started...
>
> 1. There were no Europeans residing in present-day South Africa prior
> to the 17th century, yet extensive archaeological evidence shows
> habitation across the region for thousands of years prior (e.g.,
> Mapungubwe, Thuthlane and hundreds of iron age and stone age sites).
> Hence, there were local African people resident all across the country,
> including Khoekhoe pastoralists and San hunter-gatherers before and
> after the pre-11th century migration of Nguni-language speaking black
> Africans along the Shashe-Limpopo valley and into what is now South
> Africa. All sizable tracts of land privately owned (by any entity) in
> the colonial era (post 17th century) that did not have local people on
> it (or using it for agriculture, hunting or grazing -- especially in
> the settled, agrarian Kruger-region of the country) was therefore, de
> facto, cleared. That is, the local people were 'kicked off'.


I notice that Kruger has, in the far north anyway, claims to have started
to make some progress in that area by allowing some of the native people
group to operate a game lodge or camp.

Here in the USA, our "Native Sovereign Nations" are allowed to operate
with some of their own tribal laws and systems of government. This means
that a very profitable operation now is the Native American casino. I'm
not sure that is a direction that would be good for South Africa to go.

I can't say much about other people's tastes, but to me it seems strange
to spend well over a day in airports and airplanes to get from where I
live to South Africa, only to go do something that one could do here. I
would hope that no matter what plans you would want to see, it would
involve something that is truly unique to South Africa, or at least
African.

(Sorry for the rant-like sound, but after having visited Victoria Falls
and spending a night in a hotel that decided that its musical fare for the
evening would be a Mexican mariachi band (which I can go anywhere in my
city and hear any night of the week) the sheer amount of non-African
tourist solutions being used to solve African tourist problems seems quite
silly.)


> 2. The instance with the greatest press coverage in recent years was
> the Makuleke tribe, who were forcibly removed from the northern extreme
> of the Kruger National Park in 1969 and in 1996 instituted a land
> claim. Documentation of this process can be read in "Land Claims and
> National Parks - the Makuleke Experience"
>
> [edited addition from the original:]
> A friendly suggestion...putting your "Township Tour" in the context of
> just this kind of history, pre-history and cultural setting would be a
> good move in the right direction, and I bet your tourists would love


For those of us who have traveled, we have seen such places as the favelas
in Brazil, or similar such places in India, Phillipines, etc. Yes, the
plight of these people, no matter where they are in the world, is quite
unfortunate. Somehow I am not convinced that a township tour offers such
a great opportunity for communication of the message that you wish to
convey.

If people are into outdoor-type activities, such as game safaris, then
chances are they would prefer to do outdoor activities of all kinds. Why
not actually visit some of these archeological sites rather than just hear
about them second hand during a township tour?

--
-Glennl
The despammed service works OK, but unfortunately
now the spammers grab addresses for use as "from" address too!
e-mail hint: add 1 to quantity after gl to get 4317.
 
Old Jan 24th 2007, 12:21 am
  #3  
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Default Re: Improving the safari product in South Africa

On Jan 24, 8:18 am, [email protected] ([email protected]) wrote:
> In article <[email protected] .com>,

> Here in the USA, our "Native Sovereign Nations" are allowed to operate
> with some of their own tribal laws and systems of government. This means
> that a very profitable operation now is the Native American casino. I'm
> not sure that is a direction that would be good for South Africa to go.

Not going to happen here -- too close to the native "Homelands" that
were a fundamental part of the apartheid policy. Also, the
democratically elected government holds all the important levers of
power, though the council of traditional leaders is relevant to some
aspects of local life. Not to worry.

> I can't say much about other people's tastes, but to me it seems strange
> to spend well over a day in airports and airplanes to get from where I
> live to South Africa, only to go do something that one could do here. I
> would hope that no matter what plans you would want to see, it would
> involve something that is truly unique to South Africa, or at least
> African.

3 points on this:

1. African tourists (i.e., Africans travelling in Africa) like to
experience non-African cultures on their travels, just as Americans and
Europeans like to go for Greek food in Dallas or Vietnamese in Paris.
Nigerians go for haute cuisine in Joburg or snow skiing in Lesotho if
they can't get to Nice or Austria. Especially among the younger
generation of black professionals in SA, they want the experiences and
flavours of Europe and N America (in particular) even if they can't yet
afford to travel there.

2. The stereotypical ideas of what is 'African' are frequently off
target. (though mariachis are way off the mark...) Contemporary Africa
is eclectic, messy, dynamic, spontaneous, vibrant and yet still
unmistakably African. The cultural fusions and influences are as
complex and deep here as any part of the world, and perhaps deeper than
most. I think of an encounter I had in Tanzania with a Kenyan dressed
in traditional Turkana hairstyle and outer garments, but with a cell
phone at his hip, an Arsenal t-shirt, Air Jordan shoes and a hip-hop
inflection to his English. He was working in an Italian restaurant and
pouring a bottle of Portuguese wine when I met him. Africa isn't
nostalgic Colonial, pre-Colonial or pre-human Edenic wilderness, and
those who come and discover that are delighted when they do.

3. There are some remarkable cultural tourism experiences to be had,
and a number of companies and destinations that seem to be striking the
right balance on these matters (IMHO), but they remain a b*tch to find.
I'm working on a project that deals with many of them -- and hopefully
this will help with the problem -- but it will still be tough for years
to come. The trick is knowing which experiences are for real, have
community support, don't exploit the locals or profit at the expense of
their dignity, are safe, fairly priced, environmentally sensitive,
etc., etc. This is where the real heavy lifting comes in for improving
the tourism product in SA. We're making some progress, though, and the
trend is certainly in the right direction. Demand for this kind of
product is huge in SA (and I suspect for the rest of Africa, but I
don't have good data outside SA).

> For those of us who have traveled, we have seen such places as the favelas
> in Brazil, or similar such places in India, Phillipines, etc. Yes, the
> plight of these people, no matter where they are in the world, is quite
> unfortunate. Somehow I am not convinced that a township tour offers such
> a great opportunity for communication of the message that you wish to
> convey.

I agree entirely! "Township Tours" just reinforce the old boundaries of
the apartheid system. You don't visit a township, you visit people,
cultures and communities. What's needed is a context and then the
relationships (on the part of the tour guide/company to be trusted and
be safe) as well as having an itinerary that leaves time and space for
spontaneous relationships and interactions to take place -- what we
call 'co-created experiences'. People meeting people in places and
spaces where honest connections can occur. I think the formerly
institutionalized separation of races and cultures has made it harder
to develop this context and build links between/among communities. Some
of these kinds of tours exist, but they are rare and also hard to find.

Kurt
 
Old Jan 24th 2007, 4:52 pm
  #4  
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Default Re: Improving the safari product in South Africa

In article <[email protected] .com>,
"[email protected]" <[email protected]> wrote:

> > I can't say much about other people's tastes, but to me it seems strange
> > to spend well over a day in airports and airplanes to get from where I
> > live to South Africa, only to go do something that one could do here. I
> > would hope that no matter what plans you would want to see, it would
> > involve something that is truly unique to South Africa, or at least
> > African.
>
> 3 points on this:
>
> 1. African tourists (i.e., Africans travelling in Africa) like to
> experience non-African cultures on their travels, just as Americans and
> Europeans like to go for Greek food in Dallas or Vietnamese in Paris.
> Nigerians go for haute cuisine in Joburg or snow skiing in Lesotho if
> they can't get to Nice or Austria. Especially among the younger
> generation of black professionals in SA, they want the experiences and
> flavours of Europe and N America (in particular) even if they can't yet
> afford to travel there.
>
> 2. The stereotypical ideas of what is 'African' are frequently off
> target. (though mariachis are way off the mark...)


Oh, I can understand the need to accomodate all tastes. Certainly there
are people here who go out on international travels but yet insist upon
drinking Coffee at a Starbucks because they like to surround themselves
with familiar things.

Certainly, when someone from Africa wants to experience a mariachi band
they should be able to find one.

But is that type of thing necessarily something that should be
incorporated into "improving the safari prodcut in South Africa"? Where I
live, you can find exotic music of all sorts in the city. It isn't
something you would find in a remote state or national park that is trying
to promote an understanding of the people, culture and natural life of the
region. If such a music program does exist in an area (and some of our
state parks do this) it most likely is done to promote an understanding of
the culture or people that existed in that place at one time.


> right balance on these matters (IMHO), but they remain a b*tch to find.
> I'm working on a project that deals with many of them -- and hopefully
> this will help with the problem -- but it will still be tough for years
> to come. The trick is knowing which experiences are for real, have
> community support, don't exploit the locals or profit at the expense of
> their dignity, are safe, fairly priced, environmentally sensitive,
> etc., etc.


For us international travelers, it remains even harder. I'll use North
America as an example because that is what I just did. There are the
giude books that one can purchase in the book stores here, but sometimes
they conflict with who does good tours, and how old is the information?
The hotel in Jo'burg had all sorts of tourist info, but I got the general
idea that only certain companies were listed there because they were the
ones offering a financial incentive to the hotel chain to have their
material in the lobby. It was interesting to me that NONE of the tour
companies listed in the hotel information were listed as offering good
products in ANY of the guide books I purchased here in the USA.

Web research? Well, any idiot can write a web site. I know because I'm
one of those idiots that puts stuff on web sites.

Travel agents? Ah, now this gets interesting. I decided that I would
contact a travel agent here in the city where I live. It so happens they
have an "Africa Expert" who goes on trips fairly frequently in order to
check the quality of the establishments offered. This isnt' such a bad
way to go, but to book my travels his agency contracted with an agency in
South Africa, who then contracted with a third agency to handle the actual
booking of the travel. I'm left with the impression that I probably could
have gotten by with spending a lot less money than I did - I had a good
time but some of the places where I wound up spending the night were a
whole lot more resort than I need at night.

>
> I agree entirely! "Township Tours" just reinforce the old boundaries of
> the apartheid system. You don't visit a township, you visit people,
> cultures and communities. What's needed is a context and then the
> relationships (on the part of the tour guide/company to be trusted and
> be safe) as well as having an itinerary that leaves time and space for
> spontaneous relationships and interactions to take place -- what we
> call 'co-created experiences'.


The vast majority of my international travels have been while doing
volunteer service for non-profit organizations, which has also involved
visiting a few tourist locations at the same time. I spent a fair amount
of time one year playing games (and all the while helping to enforce the
city sponsored English foreign language program) with some Brazilian
favela children. Through that, I also managed to visit a number of nearby
tourist areas in ways that the normal North American tourist would never
have had opportunity to do.

Allowing tourists and local non-profit groups working in these areas to
combine activities would be an interesting step in the direction you are
headed. Having an official program of some sort that would combine
tourists interested in volunteering with willing and appropriate volunteer
groups would be outstanding.

--
-Glennl
The despammed service works OK, but unfortunately
now the spammers grab addresses for use as "from" address too!
e-mail hint: add 1 to quantity after gl to get 4317.
 
Old Jan 24th 2007, 8:29 pm
  #5  
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Default Re: Improving the safari product in South Africa

On Jan 25, 7:52 am, [email protected] ([email protected]) wrote:
> In article <[email protected] .com>,

> Certainly, when someone from Africa wants to experience a mariachi band
> they should be able to find one. But is that type of thing necessarily something that should be
> incorporated into "improving the safari prodcut in South Africa"?

Of course not. Agreed entirely.

> For us international travelers, it remains even harder [ confusion ... guide books ... hotel in Jo'burg ... Web research ... Travel agents]

Yes, yes, and yes. And yes. I'm working 80 hour weeks to deal with this
problem right now, but it's going to take a lot more effort to fix it.
In the meantime, that's why I'm active in this NG. If you'd like to
know more about my projects, send me an e-mail and I'll forward you the
details.

> Allowing tourists and local non-profit groups working in these areas to
> combine activities would be an interesting step in the direction you are
> headed. Having an official program of some sort that would combine
> tourists interested in volunteering with willing and appropriate volunteer
> groups would be outstanding.

Yes again. We have the "Cape Care Route" in the Cape Town area that's
one project along these lines -- 25 sustainable development projects
joining together in a route forum to share marketing and operations for
tourists. It's a start and it requires a lot of assistance, but it's
showing some signs of success after 2 years on the go.

And, for anyone interested in specific suggestions about these kinds of
products, destinations, experiences, etc., just post (or e-mail me if
you prefer) and we'll chat about it -- I can't very well post my
database in its entirety!

Kurt

> --
> -Glennl
 

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