The visit last Thursday of a team from South African Kaya FM to collaborate with the Nigerian Tourism Development Commission (NTDC) could be likened to the visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon.

Just like the Kaya FM team came because of what they have heard happening in Nigeria and the huge opportunities here, the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon because of the success stories she had heard about the king and his kingdom.

When the Queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, etc, she was overwhelmed.

She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true.  But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.”

That was a form of tourism. She travelled from her native country to Jerusalem to appreciate the good things that were going on there under King Solomon.

By the same token, the Kaya FM team was in Nigeria for some days, observing things for themselves and felt satisfied with the huge tourism potentials that needed to be tapped.

Folorunsho Coker, director-general, NTDC, who has committed himself to taking the nation’s tourism to greater heights and repositioning the nation’s tourism to be a huge revenue earner, said he encourages any collaboration that would reposition the nation’s tourism industry.

He said the focus now is to treat tourism as a business and as a huge foreign exchange earner, noting that tourism is not just about arts and culture as it has always been classified, but a money-spinner that can immensely scale up the fortunes of Nigeria, if properly harnessed.

At the parley with some editors with the visiting South African broadcasters who promote tourism, the DG said he was glad to have the support of the visitors, who, according to him, have promised to collaborate with NTDC to realise its objectives.

Leader of the team, Greg Maloka, a supporter of South African artists and musicians, and managing director, Kaya FM, said: “The whole idea of this collaboration is that we want to understand Nigeria for ourselves. We want to understand Nigeria beyond media, or what anyone else is reporting but our own account.  Our focus is growth and development. There are lots of important people who want to see growth and development. These are those who do not want to dwell on negativities.”

According to Maloka, “We are certain that there are hundreds of millions of people who just want to find a better environment to raise their families; to be able to take their children to school and make them become better than what they have achieved. We want to see Africa being recognised among its peers globally. And that has to start with us. A lot of South Africans are coming to Nigeria because they understand the vibrancy of the place and the opportunities here. Kaya is a medium that speaks to millions of people that opportunities are open to many more people in Africa.”

Ordinarily, some cynics would have thought that with the xenophobic attack going on in South Africa where many Nigerians have been killed, it would be difficult to see fresh business collaborations between the two countries, Maloka said part of the reasons for such behavours in South Africa was the negative effects of the Apartheid era that eroded the confidence of many citizens and made them see foreigners as enemies.

“The issue really is, remember that South Africa has a racial challenge. The system of apartheid did something cruel to black people; it took away our pride, our identity – what we are, our history was interrupted. A lot of our history was erased deliberately and some charged.

“So, you can never really connect with who you are, and if you cannot connect with who you are, it is difficult to be confident about anything. So confidence became a very huge deficit among black South Africans. And it doesn’t matter how educated you are, how rich or poor you are. When you don’t have confidence, you don’t have it. It is nothing that you can buy over the counter. You have to work for it. You have to be at peace with yourself so you can co-exist with others. So, we are not able to co-exist with others because we have deficit with us. And it is a very painful thing and it is something that we don’t understand, because for most people it is something that is in your blood stream and in your sub-conciseness. So, your reaction when you meet a confident person is resentment,” the Kaya FM boss explained.

“We should craft a new future for ourselves. But in doing that we also say it is pointless to think of ourselves or isolate ourselves from the continent. For a very long time South Africans have isolated themselves; they never saw themselves as part of the continent. The level of tolerance we have for each other is not what is expected to be because, generally, Africa is naturally a very warm and friendly continent. A lot of that has been compromised through politics in many different countries, mainly because of different political agendas and challenges that each of us are facing in our different countries,” he said.

“But our quest from Kaya FM perspective is: how do we find a single voice for Africa? What is the one thing that identifies us as a people so much that whatever space we occupy we must always find our way back to that singular thing? Think about many countries around the world, they are first identified by their continents and not by their names. In many parts of the world when people ask you where are you from? You say I am an African. You only tell the person your country if the individual goes ahead to ask where in Africa? So, what does that mean? That means that as a medium that has 24 million people that are viewing the YouTube content, we have about a million middle and upper middle class of South Africans who are looking to us Kanya listening to Kaya on a weekly basis, who are looking to us to try to understand our environment and continent better,” Maloka further said.

He gave an instance of the team’s experience at a restaurant somewhere in Lagos where they went to eat. According to him, the food was fantastic, the environment superb, and they were able to take some photo shots to prove to the people back home they were not in a jungle dodging bullets.

“We have to put it up for people to see that we were not in one jungle dodging bullets, but a country of progressive people. We have to understand that everything about Nigeria is Nigerian. You need to understand how beautiful Nigeria is. The only way to learn about finding ourselves is to reach out to our brothers and sisters and understand where they draw their pride from,” he said.

The team promised to encourage South Africans to visit Nigeria more. Maloka and his colleagues also said that they were going to bring more tourists into the country as well as businesses that would be mutually beneficial to both countries.

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