An African American Dream Became Tourism Reality in Tanzania

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 “This could be a tourist package of a major significance for Afro-Americans in our emotional pursuit of discovering our ancestral origins,” a man of color and tourist from California in the USA, Mr. Herb Moutra, told eTurboNews in Arusha, Tanzania.

Mr. Herb, who traveled thousands of miles to wed traditionally with his sweetheart, Sharon, at their ancestral land in Tanzania, said there’s a growing interest among Afro-Americans to connect with their brothers and sisters in Africa.

“We want to learn more about our ancestors—who they were, where they came from, what happened to them, and why. And here we can get a firsthand account of our ancestral plights,” he said.

Cheers and excitement rocked the sky as the groom, Mr. Herb, and the bride, Ms. Sharon, both from California, landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), Tanzania, at around 9:00 am on July 4, 2022.

“It’s unbelievable! We’ve never celebrated U.S. Independence Day in America like we’re here. Indeed, there’s no place like home. Thank you so much, my brothers and sisters,” Mr. Herb said during concise greetings at the airport.

For years, Mr. Herb and Ms. Sharon lived with a faint hope that one day they would travel to Africa to discover their ancestral roots and wed traditionally.

Afro American in TZ

“When there’s a will, there’s a way, here we’re to reunite with our brothers and sisters after being separated during the worst slave trade about 400 years ago,” an emotional Herb said.

Having been born and bred amid the forest of skyscrapers of the American city of California, Mr. Herb and Ms. Sharon dreamed of getting back into their ancestral natural settings to revisit the life before the snake had tempted Eve.

The couple chose Kigongoni, a tiny Maasai village along the slopes of Africa’s Rift Valley; near the area, the human evolution took place as a suitable Garden of Eden for hosting their customary wedding.

As it happened, the Afro-American couple exchanged their marriage vows before Maasai elders in a colorful traditional wedding hosted at a typical cultural boma, just a stone’s throw away from the Oldupai Gorge within Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

And for Mr. Herb and Ms. Sharon, this area where they are wedded is the perfect scene for life before the Biblical Cain and Abel, the life before the Nephilim giants, and Noah’s flood.

Their historical wedding in their ancestral land brought back the world, which used to exist shortly after the Biblical beginning of the earth.

“Welcome back home, the son and daughter of the soil. We bestow upon you your ancestral blessings. We pray that God guides you in your new adventure,” said the Maasai traditional leader, Mr. Lembris Ole Meshuko, during the ceremony.

The Maasai community offered the newlywed couple new names of Lamnyak for Herb and Namanyan for Sharon as their ancestral designations.

“This wedding is a gift to our fellow Africans, our very own relatives. It took this long, about 400 years, to come back and reunite with you, my brothers and sisters,” said the emotional Herb, expressing his gratitude to some 80-year-old Maasai elders who crossed the Serengeti plains just to attend their wedding.

Wildlife Paradise 

While the Tanzanian people, breathtaking sceneries, and other natural resource reserves are enough to grab one’s attention, it is until when one gets to the sprawling Serengeti National Park that it dawns that he or she gets into a real Biblical garden of Eden, thanks to its abundant wildlife flawlessly wandering across the endless savannah.

On their first leg into Serengeti, the Afro-American couple came face-to-face with a natural sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of animals such as leopards, rhino, wildebeest, zebra, lions, buffalos, giraffes, warthog, monkeys, baboons, antelopes, hyena, gazelle, topi, cranes and lizards all free to wander.

No sooner as it happens than the newlywed couple went wild, ululating and chanting, as the natural beauty of the Serengeti made them feel as if they were in wildlife heaven.

“This is a tantalizing natural place remaining on earth; our brothers and sisters in the US and across the globe should know about and come to visit it. Forget about lifeless animals we see in the zoos,” Mr. Herb said.

Their experience and ambiance did not end there. The Afro-American couple also had fallen in love with a five-star bush camp they spent two nights in the jungle, surrounded by hundreds of harmless wild animals at night.

“We’ve got lunch amid Serengeti savannah, just 200 meters to where lions also had theirs. This is a lifetime adventure,” he said as he vowed to return with his family members and friends next year.

Wildlife experience aside, the couple was also moved by the hospitality of the people of Tanzania, services, amenities like exclusive bathrooms with hot showers, ice cream, and environmentally friendly solar-powered electricity in the middle of the wilderness, particularly hotels and bush camps they stayed in.

“The hospitality of the people of Tanzanian is outstanding! We were accorded royal services right from the onset; we were served by nice waitresses and waiters, all the time wearing truly human smiles on their faces,” Mr. Herb testified.

“It’s a great experience to be in Africa. I used to hear negative stories about Africa back in America.  We were told Africa is poor, full of aggressive beggars, kids die of hunger, and all negative-related narratives. But when I first arrived here, I was shocked to see the beauty of Africa that had never been talked about,” Ms. Sharon said.

She vowed to return to America and tell the truth about Africa as part of her contribution to changing the negative narrative about her ancestral land.

“I’ve enjoyed it. People are nice, respectful, lovely, and extremely generous.  I have had an unforgettable experience that no one can take away from me. I take the hidden truth about Africa back to the US,” Ms. Sharon said.

Ancestral Roots

Indeed, Tanzania is home to the cradle of mankind, Oldupai Gorge, where the first human being traces were discovered, Ujiji major slave trading center in Lake Tanganyika in the western part, and Kilwa historical sites in the Coastal zone that form part of the central slave trade route to the slave market in Zanzibar Isles.

“The payoff for all this detective work is nothing less than time traveling through your family history. You will get to know your ancestors more intimately and meaningfully.

Genealogy expert Megan Smolenyak, the sleuth who uncovered Barack Obama’s Irish ancestry, describes visiting one’s ancestral home as one of life’s few “universally moving experiences.”

“No matter how successful or what you have seen, you can’t be jaded when you walk in your ancestors’ footsteps,” Smolenyak says. “There’s something powerful about seeing your surname on cemetery stones in some remote town or sitting in the church where your great-grandparents were married. Getting there requires a great deal of patience and detective work, but I can assure you, it’s well worth it.”

The founder of Off the Beaten Path, Mr. Salim Mrindoko echoed Mr. Herb’s statement, saying that Tanzania is indeed credited to have preserved significant traces of the slave trade, and Africans of American descent can make a pilgrimage to connect with their ancestral spirits.

He said that Tanzania has all it takes to offer Afro-Americans the opportunity to explore their ancestor’s history through places, objects, and tastes.

“I believe Afro-Americans are passionate about bridging cultural gaps by coming back home to explore their heritage and fill the personal void,” Mr. Mrindoko said.

For instance, he said, the Afro-Americans could visit the slave market and dungeon in Zanzibar, where they would encounter the ugly face of the slave trade in Africa.

“They can also visit the historical Prison Island, popularly known as Changuu Island, that lies barely a 30-minute boat ride from Unguja, where stunningly horrific records of slavery in the Arab world and within Africa are preserved,” Mr. Mrindoko told e-Turbonews in an interview.

An Arab trader once used the Island to contain and prevent some troublesome slaves from the African mainland from escaping before shipping them to the Arabian purchasers or for auctioning at the Zanzibar market.

“Tanzania has a myriad of evidence of slave trade. I urge Afro-Americans, who seek to trace their roots and reconnect with their relatives, to come,” Mr. Mrindoko added.

Cradle of Mankind Site

Ngorongoro covers original sites where the first human being is believed to have originated and lived millions of decades ago. This is where the entire global population would have liked to trace their ancestral roots.

After all, the world has seen modern technological inventions, trips to the moon, exploration of outer space, and diving into the deepest seas. What most are yet to witness, however, is the ancient life that preceded all these.

Humans have evolved and multiplied, with their population expected to reach an 8 billion mark this November if the latest UN data is anything to go by. After centuries of innovations, most would wish to ‘travel back in time and retrace their ancestors ‘real’ footsteps.

Within Ngorongoro, the dinosaur age settings can still be found in their authentic natural forms, unchanged and unspoiled, mapped onto two adjacent sites, Olduvai and Laetoli.

Named after the sword-shaped wild sisal thriving in the area, Oldupai (Olduvai) and its adjacent Laetoli hominid footprint site remain the only place where the world’s ancient natural stamps still exist.

At Olduvai, Tanzania has set a global record by establishing the world’s largest human history museum on archaeological discovery sites.

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