My #INDABA2014 media trip – DAY 1 of 4

This year marked the first time that I attended INDABA under the www.tourismedition.com banner which I launched in 2012, a few months after I sold www.travelwires.com. Before then I had attended INDABA twice (2009 and 2010) representing Travelwires.com.

What is INDABA?

According to their website indaba-southafrica.co.za, INDABA is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar.

It showcases the widest variety of Southern Africa’s best tourism products, and attracts international buyers and media from across the world. INDABA is owned by South African Tourism and organised by Pure Grit Project and Exhibitions Management (Pty) Ltd.

INDABA is a three day trade event that attracts well over 13000 delegates from the travel tourism and related industries.

In the years that I’ve not been attending INDABA, they has been growing industry cries about the state of affairs with this industry event. Delegates were mainly complaining that INDABA was no longer providing value for money, such as…

  1. Irrelevant exhibitors
  2. High costs of exhibiting
  3. Inflated airfares and hotels

Below are some of the well documented misgivings online…

With all the industry feedback, South African Tourism took a decision to revamp the show so it remained relevant and appealing to the travel trade. Compared to the last time I attended INDABA in year 2010, I noticed a number of innovations that have been introduced such as:

  1. Only 3 days…no longer 4 days
  2. TechZone
  3. Premium Lounge
  4. Speed Marketing
  5. Global Media FaceOff
  6. More African countries exhibiting
  7. Indaba Connect
  8. Twitter hashtag #INDABA2014 (as per my headline)
  9. Instagram #MeetSouthAfrica
  10. Hosting International Bloggers

Since I was part of the Johannesburg media group hosted by South African Tourism, our day kickstarted with a visit to Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia to learn about our the history of “Rivonia Trial”. I loved this exposure, since its was my first time visiting Liliesleaf, though I’m a Joburg resident…I still have yet to discover more about my city.

According to their website www.liliesleaf.co.zaLiliesleaf has always been a place of dialogue. In the early 1960s, when the property was the headquarters for covert, underground activities and a safe house for many leading figures of the liberation movement, debates on political and military policy and strategy were commonplace. People from diverse backgrounds but with a common vision met here to discuss South Africa’s emancipation from an oppressive apartheid regime. Today Liliesleaf is a repository for those conversations, and a place where the fruits of a free and equal South Africa are recounted and celebrated.

On 11 July 1963, a dramatic police raid took place at Liliesleaf. Concealed inside a laundry van, a number of security branch policemen made their way down a long, dusty driveway. Members of the MK high command were meeting to discuss a contested strategy to overthrow the government. The raid took them completely by surprise. In the search that followed, the police combed every square centimetre of the property, and collected masses of liberation struggle documents. The security police proclaimed that they had ‘hit the jackpot’.

For the apartheid government, the event was a coup. For the liberation movement, it was a crippling blow. Comrades Bernstein, Goldberg, Goldreich, Hepple, Kathrada, Mbeki, Mhlaba and Sisulu were detained. The farm labourers, who were oblivious of the true purpose of Liliesleaf, were also rounded up and taken into police custody. At this stage no one knew what would happen to them. Following the raid, they were joined by Nelson Mandela, who at the time of the raid was serving a five year prison sentence, as well as Andrew Mlangeni and Elias Motsoaledi, fellow comrades who had been arrested prior to the raid.

A dramatic series of events played out in the months after the raid: a gripping jailbreak, the arrest of an unsuspecting and innocent bystander, and much speculation about the identity of the source who had exposed Liliesleaf. Was it an ANC informer, a neighbour, or a foreign intelligence agency?

Following the raid, the core leadership of the ANC and MK were charged with sabotage. The subsequent trial, known as the Rivonia Trial, would change the course of South African history. The apartheid state aimed to use the nine-month long trial as a platform to discredit the liberation movement and their resistance strategies, and to position the trialists as malicious terrorists intent on overthrowing the apartheid government by violent means. The prosecution duly asked for the death penalty. However, the trialists and their dedicated defence counsel, led by Bram Fischer, in effect used the opportunity to put the apartheid government on trial.

On 12 June 1964 Justice Quartus de Wet announced the verdict to a packed courtroom. The local press, international reporters and correspondents eagerly waited for the sentence to be handed down. When the penalty of life imprisonment was declared for the majority of the accused, South Africa’s struggle for democracy was catapulted onto the international stage.

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After touring Liliesleaf we then flew to Pietermaritzburg for an overnight at Protea Hotel Hilton before driving to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick on DAY 2.

Protea Hotel Hilton

At Protea Hotel Hilton we spent our first night together as a unit from various media houses around Johannesburg. Our dinner was long (well they took forever to serve us with food and we were hungry…which resulted in us consuming too much wine before the actual food arrived). We had fun interacting amongst ourselves getting to know each other and actually we were the last guests to vacate the dining room hall.

The hotel was originally established in 1936 and consisting of 97 rooms which all boasts of modern amenities expected from holiday-makers to businessmen. Its within easy reach from the N1 highway, a perfect stopover for long distance travellers.

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Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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