The glamour and pageantry that always ensue the staging of the renowned cultural festivity on the African continent -the Marula Festival, was never found wanting as grace and pride covered in cloud nine mood of cultural excitement rented the air in the Kingdom of Eswatini last weekend, where motherhood was celebrated for the pivotal role of keeping the kingdom together at the annual festival that brought the country to a stand still with so much captivation.
The kingdom reconnected with the ancient and reunited with nature to release the anscenstral energy that permeated the atmosphere for the 2 day event that ushered in what could be described as the cultural tourism immersion per-excellence.
The enchanting kingdom attracted great souls from all walks of life who converged on the captivating destination to once more, after a while, experience and express their affinity for the cultural values of Africa that can only be perceived from the real source.
His Majesty, Ingwenyama -King Mswati III, the Cabinet Ministers and leaders from all regions within the country graced the all engaging event which took place at the Hlane Royal Residence .
The Executive Chairman of African Tourism Board, Hon. Cuthbert Ncube together with the Chief Secretariat Officer, Amb. Sandile Magongo were part of this prestigious event as well as numerous VIPs from all over Africa and various tourisits from across the globe who had been waiting anxiously for the festival in order to appreciate the rich heritage that has been preserved for decades by the government and people of Eswatini.
The kingdom withstood the storm and castigations from some malignant elements across different quarters that always attempt to undermine the African legacy that has been passed from generation to generation by the founding fathers of the kingdom and African ancestors.
It was a pure cultural tourism at its best, undiluted, uncompromised and unyielding, attracting thousands of tourists from all over the world to SADC region and graciously benefiting small medium businesses that form part of the tourism value-chain and supply across the country.
“As African Tourism Board, we are working closely with Member States to take charge of our identity and start commissioning our indigenous cultural diversity that has been brought to reality in this kingdom”.
“Let me inform you that the first ever Continental Cultural Festival has been endorsed by two governments of Eswatini and Botswana, driven by ATB and slated for September, 2022 where we hope to engage close to 27 Member States in celebration of our diversity as a continent.
There is so much to kick start the tourism sector in Africa as a low hanging fruit by positioning the Continent through a total economic recovery geared towards sustaining our travel, tourism, heritage and culture because our diversity should be fully appreciated and not to be taken advantage of”, ATB Chairman noted.
Marula Festival is one out of the various festivities within the Kingdom of Eswatini that has lasted for centuries where a particular fruit or fruits -Marula are blended into a liquid substance that would be prepared for consumption, but not until after the tasting and blessing of Their Majesties, King Mswati and Queen Indlovukazi of the Kingdom. Once that has been achieved then an engulfing celebration would pervade the kingdom.
It should be well noted that Marula festival celebration has not been well harnessed to serve the cutltural and touristic purposes. It has not yet received the deserving recognition and acceptance by Africans as such, unlike the global tourists that troop in yearly into the country to enmesh themselves in the ecstasy , hence the urgent need for more Africans to participate and also savour the great experience that the festivity has to offer. Kingdom of Eswatini needs to open up to more Africans, rather than just the SADC region alone by allowing easy entry for more countries in Africa to allow their citizens tap into the experience of Marula festivity and further expand the scope in terms of cultural exportation that might create room for a future collaborations among countries as been promulgated by Eswatini and Botswana.
Yet, the dividend of the festival to the country and the communities in particular must also be improved upon and I strongly believe the benefits accruable will surpass that of the Burkingham Palace and other commissioned tourist attractions if well managed.
Also, homage paying should not only be for the locals alone, but the entire Africans as this kingdom remains the only absolute monarchy in the entire continent and through that the power of unbuntu would be further brought to reality across the lands where the potential of cultural tourism could be well harnessed.