KENYA: A THEATER OF NATURE’S SPLENDOR

I have always wanted to see Kenya’s very famous scenic landscapes and vast wildlife. Although, I had never been to Kenya, I have written a couple of pieces on this very beautiful country as I have on most countries in Africa. Whether I was going to see the scenic landscapes and wildlife on this trip or not, didn’t really matter to me, I was just ecstatic, when my brother and friend Didier Bayeye, the marketing manager for Africa and Indian Ocean at Sun International, invited me to compere his traditional wedding ceremony in Kenya.

I consider it proper to mention the fact that the love story that culminated into this wedding ceremony actually started at Akwaaba 2018.  As most travel, tourism and hospitality practitioners in Africa usually do annually, Didier from his base in South Africa and Shirley Favour from her base in Kenya came for the 2018 edition of Akwaaba Africa Travel Market (AFTM) – which is essentially an international travel, tourism and hospitality event that holds in Eko Hotels and suites, Victoria Island Lagos, Nigeria, annually. They both came as singles who were searching for their soul mates, not knowing that exactly a year later, all roads would lead to Kenya for their traditional wedding ceremony.

Even though the wedding ceremony was scheduled to hold on 6th and 7th of September 2019 respectively, I choose to leave Nigeria a few days before the ceremony to explore Nairobi a little and to attend to a meeting that I had pre-scheduled with some friends in the corporate communications office of Kenya Airways in Nairobi.  Although, I was unable to carry out my exploration as much as I would have loved to, I must say that I still had a delightful experience during my very short, first visit to Kenya.

The Kenya Airways flight number KQO535 that took me to Kenya left Nigeria at about 11:00 pm Nigerian time on the 3rd of September 2019, and arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi Kenya at about 7:30 am Kenyan time.  Being an unapologetic Pan-Africanist, I firmly believe that entering into any African country should be very easy for any African, at least for those Africans who are legitimately visiting those countries. It is for this reason that in my opinion, one of the most important highlights of my trip to Kenya was the very easy way I entered into the country.
Like it is in most East African countries, it is visa on arrival for Africans at the port of entry, which in this case was the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi Kenya. One is just expected to clearly state the reasons for one’s visit to Kenya on the immigration forms provided at the immigration area of the arrival terminal of the airport. After filling and handing over the completed form along with your International passport, the immigration officer on duty just goes through the information provided on the form and if he or she is satisfied, one is then asked to pay a visa fee of $50 which is all you are expected to do before being allowed to enter into Kenya.

I got into Kenya very early on the 4th of September, and as I had travelled all night, I was tired and rested for most part of the day. By the evening, Didier and his wife Shiley Favour, insisted that we went to town together. Knowing that I love fish, the couple took me out for dinner and treated me to some lovely Malian fish dish – which was fish garnished with some salad and ‘Ugali’ also known as ‘Nsima’ and pap – a type of cornmeal porridge popular across Africa. I was also treated to a bit of ‘mutura’- which is well seasoned goat meat or beef, ‘mokimo’ – which is a mixture of boiled potatoes, boiled maize, pumpkin leaves and salt, garnished with ‘spinach’, which I soon discovered is served as part of almost all Kenyan cuisines’.
I spent a better part of the 5th of September, my second day in Kenya at the Kenyan Airways office.
Mr. Hafeeez Balogun – the country manager of Kenya Airways in Nigeria who was in Kenya at that material time facilitated easy entrance into the Corporate Headquarters of Kenya Airways for me.

Then came the 6th of September 2019 – the traditional wedding ceremony day of Mr. & Mrs. Didier Bayeye, family and friends came together from all over to celebrate the big day with them.
The ‘Masai’ are arguably among the best known peoples of Africa internationally due to their dwellings being near the many game parks of the African Great Lakes region, and their distinctive customs and dressing. For this reason, I particularly looked forward to seeing the proceedings of the ‘Masai’ traditional wedding ceremony, and I must confess I was not disappointed at all. I was blown away by the mélange of the colors and sheer beauty of the dresses of the ‘Masai’ women who welcomed us with very melodious traditional songs at the entrance of the bride’s house.  Apart from the actual negations for the bride that was done quietly behind closed doors, every other part of the traditional wedding was performed with pomp and pageantry, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Immediately after breakfast on Saturday 7th September, my dear sister and friend Waturi WA Matu, Senior Director, Business Competitiveness at Trademark East Africa, took out time from her very busy schedule, came to La Maison Royale Hotel, the hotel, we lodged in and took us out on a city tour. Our first port of call was the Giraffe Centre, which was founded in 1979 by the African fund for endangered wildlife Kenya (A.F.E.W Kenya), a Kenyan non-profit organization established with the aim of educating Kenyan school children and youth on their country’s wildlife and environment, as well as give local and international visitors an opportunity to come into close contact with the world’s tallest animal species – the giraffe, just like I did.  Also located in the premises of the giraffe centre, is the world’s one and only Giraffe Hotel – the ‘Marula Manor’, owned by The Safari Collection. The ‘Marula Manor’ is an exclusive boutique hotel set on a 12-acre private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb of Nairobi.

From the giraffe centre, we went on to visit the ‘Karen Bixen Museum’, which was original the farmhouse of Baroness Karen Christenze Von Blixen Finecke, who died on the 7th of September 1962, at the age of 77 in her home country, Germany. The museum was so named due to the positively impactful life she had lived in her early days in Kenya and the success of the Film ‘Out of Africa’, which was made in her memory in 1985. In 1986 Karen Blixen Museum was opened by the government of Kenya to tell the story of this great woman and how she had meaningfully influenced the lives of some Kenyans, particularly the lives of those who had direct contact with her.
After this very refreshing and educative experience at both the Giraffe Centre and Karen Blixen museum, we went for lunch and then to a local market in the city centre to do some shopping.  

From around 7:00 pm on Saturday 7th September to the wee hours of Sunday 8th September 2019, the couple hosted family and friends to a very well planned party where there were lots of drinks and food for the guests. The music was supplied by a live band whose members clearly knew their trade and yours truly compered the event. It was truly a night to remember, the décor was exquisite and almost every guest, all of whom were gorgeously dressed in white attire, danced to the very rich mix of melodious music that the band churned out.

All through the trip, I was very careful with my diet until Sunday 8th September 2019, which was my last day on this trip, I guess it is safe to describe the day as a calorific day. I had an early flight to catch the following morning, so my plan was to rest for most part of the day, pack my luggage and prepare for my trip back to Nigeria on Monday 9th September, but according to Mr. Tonny Muiruri Mutungu, whom I fondly call ‘Oga Tonny’, “our trip to Kenya, particularly Nairobi, wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit the Carnivore”. Oga Tonny, is a very senior colleague in the Tourism industry in Africa, so when such a person spares time from his very busy schedule to take you out, it is completely out of line to refuse such a kind gesture.
So my leaving for the Carnivore was just a matter of being polite, but my trip there and journey back to the hotel was another matter entirely, as I was most thrilled. The Carnivore is undoubtedly a popular tourist destination; it is an open-air restaurant in the Langata suburb of NairobiKenya. Carnivore’s specialty is meat, and features an all-you-can-eat meat buffet. I was told that the restaurant when it was established in 1980 by the Tamarind group, seated 350 people in 1999 with the restaurant’s 330 employees serving over 1000 people per day. The wild game, including giraffe, wildebeest, ostrich and crocodile whose meat was served then, was raised on Hopcraft Ranch, 25 miles outside Nairobi, but ever since the sale of wild game meat was banned in Kenya in 2004, the restaurant now serves meat from domestic animals such as beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, as well as farmed ostrich and crocodile meat. The meat is skewered on Masai swords, cooked on coals, and served on cast-iron plates. The restaurant does have a vegetarian option for those who don’t eat meat. It ranked 47th on Restaurant magazine‘s “World’s Best 50 Restaurants” list in 2003.

Another major highlight of my trip to Kenya was the fact that I was able to see my age long sister and friend, Fifi Josephine Rurangwa, Head of Africa Expansion and Airline Partnerships for Wakanow.com limited.  It was Fifi who listed some must visit Kenya itinerary for me and said that I cannot really appreciate the nature’s splendor that Kenya’s has got to offer until I have visited the following places:

  • The Masai Mara Natural Park, which is home to the Great Migration and Africa’s exceptional wildlife, the reserve according to her boasts some of the region’s most varied topography, including hilly terrain, an escarpment leading to a plateau, and wide-open central plains that form much of the reserve. Wildlife-watching is the main event there, providing for outstanding sightseeing.
  • Another must visit place is the Famous Tsavo National Park East, which is one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya at 13,747 square kilometres, and the place where the Legendary pair of the Tsavo Man-eating Lions lived. Situated in a semi-arid area previously known as the Taru Desert, it was opened in April 1948, and is located near the town of Voi in the Taita-Taveta County of the former Coast Province. The park is divided into east and west sections by the A109 road and a railway. It is named after the Tsavo River, which flows west to east through the national park, it borders the Chyulu Hills National Park, and the Mkomazi Game Reserve in Tanzania.
  • Mombasa, which is a coastal city of Kenya along the Indian Ocean. It is the country’s oldest (circa 900 AD) and second-largest city (after the capital Nairobi), with an estimated population of about 1.5 million people in 2017. Its metropolitan region is the second largest in the country and has a population of approximately 3 million people. Mombasa is a regional cultural and economic hub; it has an extra-large port and an international airport, and is an important regional tourism center. Located on the east coast of Kenya, it is also the home to one of Kenya’s State Houses, and is considered by some as a second capital in all but name. Mombasa’s location on the Indian Ocean has made it a historical trading center and in the past had been controlled by different countries because of its strategic location.
  • Naivasha, which is also a popular tourist destination. Hell’s Gate National Park (the main locations for Lion King, including Pride Rock and the Gorge, are modelled after the park), Mount Longonot National Park and Mount Longonot are nearby attractions. Tours also have included Lake Naivasha, to observe birdlife and hippopotamus behaviour, as well as other wild animals.

HOTEL MANAGEMENT: FOCUS IS ALWAYS ON PEOPLE – STRONG PASSIONATE TEAM = GREAT GUEST EXPERIENCE = REPEAT BUSINESS

Nikola Jelenovic, General Manager of the Radisson Blu Gautrain Hotel, Sandton, Johannesburg. By Adegoke Oluwaseyi Adeyemo

On my last trip to South Africa, I stayed in Raddison blu Gautrain Hotel, Sandton Johannesburg and I must confess that I had a great time in the exquisite hotel. Raddison blu Gautrain Hotels, which is a three-minute walk from Gautrain rail station, seven minute walk from the upscale Sandton city shopping centre, with sleek and very spacious rooms plus hip dinning, with a city view bar and an outdoor pool as well as a fitness centre. is truly a classy business traveller hotel.  In course of my stay I had a chat with Mr Nikola Jelenovic, the General Manager of the hotel and below is an excerpt of our chat:

IWA: How long have you been in the management of hotels and what has been your unique experience all through these years? 

NIK: As a Hotel Manager, it’s been over five years, and let me say that the very pleasant experiences I have had over the years in my career, has been due to the very dynamic environments I have had the privilege of working in, I also derive a lot of pleasure in seeing that guests and customers are satisfied with the services we render to them. The development of the team I work with is also paramount on my mind.

IWA: Now from the perspective of a practitioner, what does hotels and hotel management mean to you?

NIK:  Managing a Hotel is a serious business, thus one must always have profitability in focus. From the services you deliver to the quality of your personnel, the bottom line for management and the investors is profit and that must be properly taken care of, to keep the business running. Generally speaking the business of running a hotel is very competitive thus management of hotels, must always be very strategic in thinking and possess very good people management skills in order to succeed.

IWA: It is often said that running an airline is not necessarily a profitable venture. Is running a hotel a profitable venture, if yes, what does one need to ensure that a hotel keeps making profits? 

NIK:  Yes, running a hotel can be a profitable venture, but it is important for management and investors to clearly understand that their primary purpose and goal is to deliver great guests experience. They must do everything within their power to put a passionate and well-motivated team together to always deliver this goal. It is by so doing that there will be constant business and eventually profitability will be guaranteed.

IWA: What are the basic qualifications that one needs to succeed as a hotel manager? 

NIK: To have a formal training in hotel management is good and would definitely be advantageous for anyone a good starting point for anyone that is pursuing a career in hotel management but in my opinion the best tool one needs to succeed in hotel management is experience that one gathers on the job and the quality of mentoring one is able to get in course of one’s career.

IWA: If you were not working in the hospitality industry, in what other industry would you have preferred to work and why? 

NIK: I have a strong affinity for project management, so I would have ended up doing something that is related to project management.

IWA: Clearly, there are several lovely hotels in South Africa and particularly in Sandton. So what in your opinion are the core competitive strengths of Radisson Blu Gautrain, Hotel, Sandton?  

NIK: First; our unique location, excellent facilities as well as our service philosophy and delivery.

IWA: What are the things you love most about working with Radisson Blu? 

NIK: The Dynamic way with which things are done in the group, Radisson is a driven, fast growing international organization, Out of all the Radisson collection, the Blu is a great upscale brand where every moment matters, however, the most important part of our drive in my opinion is how we always ensure that our guests feel the difference between us and the rest.

IWA: We live in an ever-evolving world, so where do you see Radisson Blu , Hotel, Sandton in the next five years?

NIK: I see Radisson Blu Gautrain as a market leader in the Sandton area based on its prime location, excellent service and facilities and competitive pricing.

IWA: What part of Radission Blu’s corporate culture do you like most and why?

NIK: The Radisson group is clearly driven by seven pillars that sums up the group corporate culture, thus it is difficult to single out one specific one, therefore, let me mention the ones I consider the top three: We deliver memorable moments every day, everywhere , every time We serve with our “Yes I can “spirit We are many minds with one mindset. 

SHERATON LAGOS HOTEL HOSTS AN INTIMATE COGNAC TASTING WITH REMY MARTIN FOR MARRIOTT BONVOY MEMBERS

LAGOS – Sep 26, 2019 – Sheraton Lagos Hotel recently hosted an exclusive cognac tasting event in collaboration with Remy Martin XO for Marriott Bonvoy members. During the event, members were introduced to the variety of flavors and richness of aromas found in a glass of Remy Martin XO, while being serenaded with live entertainment featuring a violinist and saxophonist. Members were given access to this exclusive experience under Marriott Bonvoy Moments- the travel program’s experiential platform –which allows members to bid or exchange their Marriott Bonvoy points for access like no other. 

‘Sheraton is where the world comes together and we are delighted to have brought our Marriott Bonvoy members together for this exclusive Remy Martin XO tasting experience,” said Barry Curran, General Manager Sheraton Lagos Hotel. “We are committed towards curating experiences that allow us to connect with our members through their passions and build loyalty beyond reason. This event was a step in this direction and we hope to bring many more exclusive experiences that will allow us to engage with our members.”

The Moment featured an exclusive Remy Martin XO tasting paired with exquisite food at the hotel’s Presidential Suite, a one-night complimentary stay in a club room, complimentary breakfast, special gifts from the hotel and Remy Martin XO. Members also enjoyed engaging conversations and photo opportunities during the intimate evening with the Remy Martin XO brand ambassador Stephen Jimba and Xavier Carbonel the Remy Cointreau Country Manager.

Built on the belief that travel enriches the world and connects people, Marriott Bonvoy, Marriott International’s new travel program, offers an extraordinary portfolio of global brands in 132 countries and territories providing endless inspiration for members to keep traveling with passion and purpose. Under one set of unified benefits, Marriott Bonvoy simplifies rewards and offers members a holistic travel experience encompassing much more than a hotel stay.

To find out more about the hotel kindly visit www.marriott.com/LOSSI or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

About Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, part of Marriott International, Inc., makes it easy for guests to explore, relax and enjoy the possibilities of travel at nearly 450 hotels in over 70 countries and territories around the world. Sheraton continues to enhance the brand through innovative guest experience, differentiating design, multi-channel marketing and a sharp focus on service. To learn more, visit www.sheraton.com. Stay connected to Sheraton on Facebook, and @sheratonhotels on Twitter and Instagram. Sheraton is proud to participate in Marriott Bonvoy, the new name of Marriott’s travel program replacing Marriott Rewards®, The Ritz- Carlton Rewards®, and Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG). The program offers members an extraordinary portfolio of global brands, experiences on Marriott Bonvoy Moments and unparalleled benefits including earning points toward free hotel stays and nights toward Elite status recognition. To enroll for free or for more information about the program, visit MarriottBonvoy.marriott.com.

About Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott Bonvoy is the new travel program replacing Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) starting February 2019. Comprised of a portfolio of 30 hotel brands, members can earn and redeem points for hotel stays and accelerate the points they earn with co-branded credit cards from Emirates NBD and MasterCard® in the UAE. The program offers 120,000 destination tours and adventures on Marriott Bonvoy Moments. When members book direct on Marriott.com they receive perks including free and enhanced Wi-Fi and exclusive member-only rates, and on the Marriott app they enjoy mobile check-in and checkout, Mobile Requests and, wherever available, Mobile Key. To enroll for free or for more information about Marriott Bonvoy, visit MarriottBonvoy.com. To download the Marriott app, go here. Travelers can also connect with Marriott Bonvoy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Canon is pleased to invite Nigerians to the second edition of Discovery Week, beginning today

A week full of even more rewarding activities for Nigerian photographers
Lagos, Nigeria; 8th October 2019 – Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA), a leader in imaging solutions, has launched the Canon Discovery Week in Lagos today.

Canon Discovery Week, dedicated to professional photographers, amateur or occasional, aims to get to know Canon users better by giving them the opportunity to interact with our team, which is more than happy to share best practices and give advice on Canon products. Customers will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in various experiences that will give them the opportunity to develop their creative skills, with the support of the Canon team.

Discover the Passion that drives the team

These events and interactions include a nature photo walk led by the local Nigerian Canon photographer Hakeem Salam, Canon Academy educational workshops hosted by Canon trainers and opportunities for various meetings and interactions with Canon experts.

These workshops will be an opportunity for participants to interact with professional Canon users as they learn from them. The first workshop, dedicated to fashion photography, will take place on October 11th. The second series will be a Pro-video Workshop on October 17th, and the last one will be an EOS R Workshop, which will take place on October 18th. These interactive sessions give consumers access to tips and tricks on photography & practical knowledge for getting the best out of Canon equipment. By supporting youth to follow their passion through these accessible courses, Canon is empowering the next generation of artists and photographers in Nigeria and Africa.

Discover the value of an innovative range of products

Canon’s customer culture is based on a very active innovation strategy, aiming to always provide the highest image quality. This allows photographers, both amateurs and professionals, to develop their skills, all the while encouraging them to express their creativity and follow their passion. Throughout the week, various activities are offered to test Canon’s latest devices in real conditions such as:
• The incredible travel bundle kit – EOS2000D, includes the latest generation of EOS camera – which combines familiar touchscreen controls, unmatched image quality, and an optical viewfinder all packaged into a portable design. This perfect travel kit also comes along with two lenses to ensure more options for the best quality photo, which will help photographers tell their stories creatively and uniquely. Storage is always important; hence we have included a 16 GB SD Card for the photos to be captured on, and a Camera Bag for all the equipment in the Perfect Travel Kit. We are also launching
• EOS 90D is a fast and reliable DSLR, with a familiar, robust body perfect for sport and wildlife photographers. For everyday life,

• EOS M6 Mark II is a compact, yet powerful mirrorless delivering beautifully sharp images – for photographers on the move,
• PowerShot G7 X Mark III, ideal for vloggers, bloggers and anyone posting content online, the PowerShot G7 X Mark III helps you look your best with superb 4K video, a large 1.0-type sensor and 20.1-megapixel photos – all in a super-portable design you can take anywhere. YouTube live stream – Connect to a network and stream live to your YouTube channel
• RF 15-35mm F2.8L IS USM and RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM, which are the perfect high-performance standard zoom choice for all professionals and amateurs alike. These lenses enable photographers and videographers to capture high-quality still and moving images across all genres – from landscape and architecture, to portrait and nature, or sports and media.
• Canon Professional Camcorders XA55/XA50 Feature-packed 4K filming, Compact and lightweight with professional functions. The highly compact and lightweight XA55 / XA50 offers high quality 4K UHD image with beneficial features such as Dual Pixel CMOS AF, Canon 15x optical zoom lens and advanced Full HD image quality driven by utilising outstanding Over Sampling HD Processing.
• Canon Professional Camcorders XA40: Ultra-compact, professional palm-sized 4K XA-series camcorder with a 20x optical zoom lens Compact and efficient – XA 4K camcorder with UHD resolution and high magnification The XA40 features a 1/2.3 – type CMOS Sensor along with DIGIC DV6 image processor.
• Canon Zoemini, Canon’s smallest and lightest photo printer, which allows printing and sharing precious memories in an instant.
• Canon’s latest refillable ink tank PIXMA G Series printers: Canon PIXMA G6040 / Canon PIXMA G5040 & PIXMA GM2040. Canon’s latest range of high-volume refillable ink tank printers, small businesses or home offices can enjoy cost effective productivity and high printing yields without having to compromise on document quality.

Discover the creativity that sleeps in every photographer
Throughout the Canon Discovery Week, a mobile van will drive to a different location to allow as many people as possible to meet with Canon’s experts. Locals will have the opportunity to come to the van and get a free A4 portrait photography of themselves. This will be a unique chance for customers to discuss the essential techniques required to capture beautiful portraits. They can then choose how to print their portrait and leave with a copy. They will also be able to come with their own Canon devices and ask any questions they may have on the best way to use them and have their cameras checked and cleaned free of charge.

Discover the added value Canon can offer

Canon has become a trusted partner in Nigeria over the past few years and is committed to pursuing its growth and development opportunities in this country which represent a key market in West Africa. Amine Djouahra, Sales & Marketing Director – B2C, Canon Central and North Africa, concluded: “Building on the success of last year, “Our objective is plural: to meet and exchange with photographers, give them a satisfying customer experience by helping them become more familiar with our devices and allow us to better anticipate their ever-changing needs. We aim to maintain this meeting with our customers every year in order to sustain this essential link that allows us to refresh our offerings regularly and launch innovative products that meet or even anticipate our customers’ needs.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA).

Media Contact:
Canon Moyen-Orient
Mai Youssef
mai.youssef@canon-me.com

Canon Central & North Africa (CCNA):
Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) (Canon-CNA.com) is a division within Canon Middle East FZ LLC (CME), a subsidiary of Canon Europe. The formation of CCNA in 2016 was a strategic step that aimed to enhance Canon’s business within the Africa region – by strengthening Canon’s in-country presence and focus.

CCNA also demonstrates Canon’s commitment to operating closer to its customers and meeting their demands in the rapidly evolving African market. Canon has been represented in the Africa continent for more than 15 years through distributors and partners that have successfully built a solid customer base in the region.

CCNA will ensure the provision of high quality, technologically advanced products that meet the requirements of Africa’s rapidly evolving marketplace. With over 100 employees, CCNA manages sales and marketing activities across 44 countries in Africa.

Canon’s corporate philosophy is Kyosei – ‘living and working together for the common good’.

For more information, log on to: Canon-CNA.com