Sunday, March 29th 2020.


Bruce Taylor


By Bruce Taylor


Less than 2 months to go to all the excitement of Africa’s first ever World Cup....But it’s also a time for anniversaries, celebrations and commemorating milestones from the recent past.

It’s the 20th Anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s walk to freedom from Robben Island , and 15 years since South Africa hosted the 1995 Rugby World Cup which played such a vital role in his strategy to forge the Rainbow Nation. Make sure you see Clint Eastwood’s recent film Invictus starring the eternal Morgan Freeman. Even if you don’t know the first thing about rugby, you’ll be thrilled by the sheer emotion and the optimism.

In the words of Nelson Mandela himself, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.  Although there is still much to do, he certainly laid some very solid foundations.


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south africa south africa



In 2008 I did some research on a SWOT analysis for South Africa Tourism (click here for the report) and wrote in conclusion:
“I have never come across a country with so many strengths, so few weaknesses & so many great opportunities for business travel, meetings, events & incentives.
Nkosi sikelel iAfrica - Yes, the Lord certainly blessed South Africa!”

In 2009 I was lucky enough to go to South Africa for the first time for Meetings Africa and it exceeded all my expectations as a destination. In 2010 I remember everything as vividly as if it were yesterday and still relive that same child-like excitement of discovery.


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south africa south africa



But it’s time to look to the future and beyond 2010 to economic recovery when South Africa will be the ideal destination for large international congresses at one end of the scale, and small meetings & motivational programmes at the other. Yes, as the South Africans say it is indeed ‘Business Unusual’.

Here’s just a small selection of South African ideas and smiling faces. They give a feel for the welcome you‘ll get in this amazing country and the smiles that will greet you. Without them, there simply wouldn’t be such wonderful products or services.

For fantastic photos of any of the places you like the sound of, go straight to the different websites...... just one click away.


Start your event with a smile, the African way

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A warm African welcome, good food, good wines, face painting, music and dance – a great way to unwind and get into the rhythm of South Africa. Moyo is small group of 6 restaurants which offer a sophisticated African experience. Moyo Zoo Lake in Johannesburg is an original venue in natural surroundings and just the place to start your South African adventure.

moyo moyo

And to help you really relax after a long flight, the Mangwanani Spa can bring in a team to give your participants a unique ‘African shoulder, neck & head massage’ out on the terrace overlooking the park. Alternatively you can arrange a day at one of their 8 spas around the country and have the full ‘African Stress Works’, a body massage with Hot Stone Therapy and Grape seed oil. You’ll be so relaxed; you won’t want to go home!

Mangwanani, River Valley:

spa spa spa


Johannesburg, the pain and the pleasure
TebogoTebogo (meaning gratitude in Swahili) Tsoku is Visitor Services Manager with the Johannesburg Tourism Company and an expert on what to see and do in the city.

Don’t miss a heart-rending tour of Constitution Hill and the notorious Old Fort Prison complex, commonly known as Number Four, where ordinary people were incarcerated and brutally punished before the dawn of democracy in 1994.  It’s a terrifying reminder of the apartheid years and the indignities one human being can inflict on another. Here was a real case of institutional terrorism. It’s a lesson in modern history through which many of us have lived, although fortunately at a short, a lesson to mankind.

Next door, in the completely opposite spirit of forgiveness, is the light and space of the modern Constitutional Court where Truth and Reconciliation has been taking place over recent years.
Constitutional Hill also offers a number of unique venues for performances, product launches, meetings & events.


Our Home is your home
SowetoEqually emotional is a visit to Soweto. Some visitors may feel uncomfortable about visiting the townships, but if you have a good local guide and you go in small unobtrusive groups, then it`s a must and the locals welcome it. You are taking an interest in their lives; you’ll almost certainly buy some of their beautiful crafts and contribute to a local charity, so the money is going directly into the micro economy. There have been many improvements in Soweto, but there are still many many more to be made.

There are also schemes where meetings organisers can buy conference bags in the townships, collect them back from delegates afterwards and recycle them through local schools.

Zandile Dhlamini runs Zantha Tours and she’s born and bred in Soweto.  She promises a real Soweto experience - the culture, the vibrancy, the historic landmarks, the music & the arts, nightclubs, malls & markets, the homes of rich and poor alike.....

As she says in her brochure: “Come for a party, a look-see, a birthday dinner or a special lunch. Come curious; come open-minded with an open mind and an open heart...just come! Our home is your home.”


soweto soweto
soweto soweto
soweto soweto



Personal Soweto Tips
hectorHave a simple but very tasty lunch on an open air terrace at Sakumzi Maqubela’s Sakumzi Restaurant. You’ll be royally entertained by a duo who do a great line in Bob Marley songs with lyrics adapted to Soweto, including a version of ‘No woman, no pain’, a new title given by a female (and Belgian!) member of our small press group. No comment! I don’t dare....

On a sadder note the Hector Pieterson Museum is outstanding. It’s a memorial to the young boy who was shot here in 1976 and it tells the story of the Soweto Uprising and the fight for freedom. Another museum guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes....To cheer you up afterwards there’s a wonderful craft market in the street alongside.

More Johannesburg ideas... 



After Johannesburg, we spent 3 days and 2 nights in the air and on the road for the shortest glimpse of a different South Africa in Port Elizabeth and Durban.

Apart from delicious food, excellent wines and wonderful music, the two highlights were without doubt a place for small corporate meetings or incentives and a modern centre for big international meetings.


A 24 hour experience of a lifetime
Pumba Game Lodge is what the Americans call a ‘braggable experience’ in a malaria-free area and close to the Garden Route in the south. It is small, private and covers 7000 hectares (=15.000 acres). There are 2 lodges with a total of 48 rooms.  I had the honour of sleeping in a bed once occupied by Nelson Mandela, when he was there for a family event.

In our short 24 hours, we went on two safaris with Timbele, our patient and long-suffering ranger. On the first evening we met kudu, impala (‘McDonalds fast food for lions’; Timbele’s words, not mine), monkeys, Nick (a 36 year old bull elephant), a lazy lion, 3 more bull elephants with 15 females and a baby born on St. Valentine’s.




After such mental exertion we had a small picnic, ate biltong (dried sausage) and drank wine at a strategic distance from the lion! Then it was back to Pumba for dinner in the Boma (a small enclosed area) which is ideal for small groups and post-safari brainstorming.

On our second and last day we were up at the crack of dawn and added to our list of animals, seen  and extensively photographed;  nyala antelope, 2 well-fed cheetahs, a leopard, 2 giraffes, gnu (yes, they really exist!), blue wildebeest, 6 zebra, redhartbeest (an antelope with a bikini bottom), 2 pumba ( got to be the world’s ugliest animal) with their tails in the air looking for a mobile network, a large herd of impala, black gnu…..

Then back for breakfast, a quick look at the lovely open-air meeting centre and we were on the road again to the airport and our final destination, Durban……….

Pumba Private Game Reserve: don’t miss it, it’s real inspiration


Where Africa and the world meet
Modern, light and airy, ICC Durban is one of the most advanced conference facilities in the world. Flexibility and versatility are key to the design of this state-of-the-art technology-driven complex which comprises an amazing 33.000m2.  It is located on the historic site of the former Durban Central Prison and incorporates some of the original prison walls as well as the famous Bill of Rights Wall.

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It was officially inaugurated by Nelson Mandela in 1997 and one of his iconic blue shirts is on display in the gallery on the 1st floor. The ICC with its Arena Conference and Exhibition Centres caters for congresses of up to 20.000 delegates, and is also a great sports and concert venue.

More info



“In terms of challenging creative instincts, I have experienced no other destination that has provided so much inspirational food for thought. And for those who love football, the 2010 World Cup is providing in these difficult economic times a marvellous opportunity for all.”

Paul Colston, Conference + Meeting World, UK

“This was my 3rd visit to South Africa. The Game Lodge we saw was really Business Unusual and interesting for Corporates. And the people are really friendly. I had no fear of anything or feeling of insecurity.”

Melanie Düwer, TW, Germany

“We saw little of what SA really is, but the experience we achieved is close to the most fantastic dreams one could have. We were perfectly provided for and did not have to struggle with anything on a daily basis. This gave me the freedom to feel the spirit of the people and the amazing beauty of the country”.

Liyana Pandelieva, Monitor, Bulgaria


A word of warning: you have to be patient as the website’s frustratingly slow and doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2008.


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