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BN Travel: South Africa at its Finest! All the Exciting Scoop from Jennifer Obiuwevbi’s Trip to the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2013 + Tour of Durban, South Africa

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My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013265Hi, my name is Jennifer Obiuwevbi, Editorial Assistant with BellaNaija.com and I officially LOVE South Africa.

I never really used to have an opinion about South Africa. I knew they went through a struggle with Apartheid regime, that there was a great man called Nelson Mandela who brought them out of that struggle and they now live in a mixed race society. That was it.

But on my recent trip there, I got to experience South Africa first hand for the first time and I can say a lot of what I knew, or thought I knew, has changed.

For the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa event, I was invited to South Africa by South African Tourism to experience the fashion week and all their country has to offer. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but as I write this now, I can’t wait to go back.

I had heard about South African fashion and how it can be a little over the edge, plus who wouldn’t be excited with a line up of David Tlale, Thula Sindi, Marianne Fassler, Taibo Bacar, Mina Evans, Duaba Serwa and Projecto Mental on the list of fashion designers to showcase. So I went with high hopes to experience true South African fashion and today’s South Africa.

When the date of departure came, I checked in to my seat in the Boeing South Africa Airways airplane bound for Johannesburg and took off, unsure what SA had to offer at the end of the 6 hour flight, but hoping for the best.

Day 1 – Landing in South Africa and Meeting the Group from Ghana.

After landing at the OR Tambo International Airport Johannesburg, South Africa a few minutes to 7AM, tired could not describe how I felt. A few hours later I met with the group from Ghana whom I was to spend the holiday with and it was like re-uniting with old friends. Among the group from the gold coast was Martin Aciedu-Dartey (Citi FMGhana), Francis Addo (Public Relations), Dela Aglanu Ernest Kwame (Joy FMGhana), Korley Nii, Sampson Caroline (Y!FM Ghana) and Wuta-Ofei Samantha (Public Relations). We immediately kicked it off and headed for the one thing we all knew we needed at that point – food, for which we headed to Wimpys.

Before I forget, we had one of the best Tour Guides in the world. Everyone knows her as the Public relations Officer for Emthunzini Tours, Sindiswa Mlaza, but we called her Sindi the Diva!

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Martin Aciedu-Dartey, Francis Addo, Dela Aglanu Ernest Kwame, Korley Nii, Sampson Caroline, Wuta-Ofei Samantha, Sindi and me a.k.a The West Africa Group

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All fed, we headed for the first show of the fashion week – Gavin Rajah‘s “From Behind the Veil” – and boy was it ah-ma-zing. It was held at the Illyria House in Pretoria and he unveiled a collection that had everyone gasping as each piece came down the runway. For the full scoop on the event, check out the feature HERE.

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Gavin Rajah talking about his showcase and South African Fashion

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After all the fashion, we had worked up an appetite. We had a quick lunch and headed for the next show on the schedule – Samsung #AmazeAfrica. For this show, 7 accessory designers and 7 couture designers came together to present collections that were themed by nature.

The event started on time, I repeat, THE EVENT STARTED ON TIME, and was quick, to the point and packed with small exciting collections. If I get into all that amazement now, we are going to be here all day; so check out all the scoop HERE.

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Marianne Fassler

Marianne Fassler / Quamta

Marianne Fassler and Quamta

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I then headed down to the David Tlale in collaboration with Vlisco show with so much excitement. I had never been to a David Tlale show before, but from what I’ve heard he always does something exciting. Immediately we arrived at the location, we knew that this was going to be extraordinary. The location was set at one of the Rovos Rails train stations with his signature white Mercedes-Benz parked on the make-shift runway.Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2013 David Tlale - BellaNaija - October 2013 (5) Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Africa 2013 David Tlale - BellaNaija - October 2013 (4)

As we quietly filed in, the show began with a montage of Rovos Rail videos and then came the ballerinas. Dresses in Vlisco dresses, the ballerinas came twirling and swaying on the stage as the first opening act. This went on for about 15-20 minutes, then the show began.

First, a series of green Vlisco print collection was unveiled and just when we though that was it, he unveiled two other collections. One themed with orange Vlisco fabrics and the last collection in Pink. It was quite impressive; he literally created 5 sets of clothes for his showcase. If that isn’t true showmanship, then I don’t know what is.

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After the show, I went back to the hotel room at the Davinci Hotel & Suites, ran a bath, put on a movie and sank into my soft bed. It had been a busy day. If South Africa was going to be as exciting as it had started out to be, then I was going to need my strength.

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Errr…where is the driver already!

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Day 2 – The Wonder Caves and the showmanship of Fashion
It was 10:00 AM and we were already off to our first stop of the day, the Wonder Caves. Now, when I first heard that we were going there, I though it was probably to stare at some old rocks and see a little wildlife. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We got to put on our best Indiana Jones face and actually venture into the caves. Was it scary, a little, did I freak out, No…Naija no dey carry last. After I had asked about 3 tour guides if there were bats, the last time there was an earthquake and how to get out the fastest, and had gotten the right answers, I actually started to enjoy myself. We got to see boulders that weighed equal to 8 adult elephants, how gold and precious stones used to be excavated and got a Secondary school flashback of Biology.My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013076 My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013063

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The Tour guide scaring the life out of us before we entered the cave

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You see that cage at the end of the stairs. That was the elevator we entered to go about 20 ft into the earth. It wasn’t scary…let’s just call it new.

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The statue shaped like Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ

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Next up was the Cradle of Humankind which took us into how the world supposedly began. Now for some people, telling them we all have the same ancestor and evolved from Apes would have been very difficult to deal with, but I guess it was just what you believed deep down.

As our tour guide took us into the facility where, she told us about evolution and how we all have a common ancestor who they fondly call Grandpa Harry, it was amazing to see how much work they had put into something they believe in. Oh and by the way, they also believe the world is going to break into pieces one day and countries will float into other countries and form new continents etc…so we may not need visas soon. #Hopeful.

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Grandpa Harry, put some clothes on!

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Say hello to your cavemen ancestors.

The Cradle of Human kind was quite enlightening and when I get enlightened I get hungry so we went off to lunch, had a quick stop at the hotel to freshen up and were back at Pretoria City Hall for the showing of individual collections. For the line-up we had Sheria Ngwoi, Kibonen, Laurence Airline, Shweta Wahi and Millie Collines. Head on over HERE to check out all the scoop from the fashion shows + my verdicts.

In-between shows we got to mingle and really experience South African fashion from the regular guy or girls perspective. Check out some of the my faves there. My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013041 My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013044 My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013046 My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013047 My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013050

Fab Tanzanian model Millen Magese was in almost every showcase and kicked back after the event in this chic number.

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Millen Magese

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Layole Oyatogun looking fierce with some leopard print

Day 3: Bummer, but at least there is Fashion.
Day 3 didn’t really have much for me. Why? Let’s just call it nature. I think I may have eaten a prawn that wasn’t dead and didn’t want to go down without a fight. So while the others in the group got to visit Soweto at marvel at Mandela’s house, I was stuck in my room battling the prawn.

But I came out victorious and was very ready for the fashion show later in the evening.

For that evening I had to put my excitement in a big bag I dragged about because I would get to see my favourite designers Thula Sindi, Taibo Bacar, Murade and Duaba Serwa all in one place. Shoot me now.

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My makeup look for the event.

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Presenting the Ghanaian diva, Duaba Serwa.

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Duaba Serwa Duaba Serwa Duaba Serwa

T for Thula Sindi.
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And now for some Mozambican flavour. Here’s Taibo Bacar.

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Duaba Serwa is so funny in person.

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Me interviewing Thula Sindi.

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Anisa Mpungwe of Loin cloth & Ashes

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And just when I was about to drop the camera, guess who walks by? David Tlale

Day 4 – Our last day in Johannesburg
I hate goodbyes, but unfortunately that was what was going to happen with Johannesburg and our amazing tour guide Sindi the Diva! At least we had a blast with her before we left.

To start our day, we went to a place that holds the history of how today’s South Africa came to be – the Apartheid museum. For our tour, we were allowed to walk in the shoes of Blacks and Whites. We got to experience and see what black people went through during the years of apartheid regime. From the beginning where we were told of how everyone was allowed to pick a new race; Indians became White and Asians became Chinese; except for Blacks, to when a black man could go out and vote. It was a more than powerful experience that left everyone in tears.

To explain how emotional you come out when you’re done, there is a section where they have two piles of smooth rocks. The aim is to pick a rock and throw it as hard as you can at the other side to express how you feel. Break it even. This way you leave all your anger behind and enter the new world of SA calm.

We weren’t allowed to take a lot of photos, but when you’re in SA be sure to go there.

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Just like it was during the Apartheid, Blacks and Whites didn’t share anything, not even doors.

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These rocks signify the death tolls of everyone in South Africa at the time. Blacks were the highest and Whites the lowest.

We all needed to cool off so after the museum we headed to do some shopping at the Neighborhood Goods market. The market is a mixture of different races selling different things. From wine tasting sections to retailers selling clothes, it was all there. We all got awesome stuff, Samantha and I dug into delicious ice cream, headed back to the hotel to freshen up and were off to day 3 of the MBFWA2013.

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That look is what you get when you mix awesomeness with cream.

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The show for that day had collections from Menckel, Wetive Nkosi, Mina Evans, Projecto Mental, Kluk CGDT, Sophie Zinga and Angelina Masike. It was earlier announced that the Fashion Awards and After Party had been moved to the next day.

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The set-up for Projecto Mental’s runway show. Definitely different

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Mina Evans

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Caught up with Layole again. Loved her Tianna Styling dress

Unfortunately and fortunately, we had to be at the hotel early that evening for a meeting with the management, but after the show and the meeting we had drinks for the last time with Sindi.

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The Mandela statue at Mandela Square, Johannesberg

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They asked me to pose and that was the first one that came to my mind.

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Sindi the Diva!

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Let the drinks roll in!

Day 5 – Durban here we come.
Arrival in Durban was more than awesome. The city is filled with so much life and beauty that it was hard to focus.

After we landed, we met with our tour guide Thoko Jili, the Tour Guide & Operator for Wisdom Travel & Tours and went for lunch. Sitting at the restaurant we were treated to some live jazz music, great food and even greater company as we were joined by the group from East Africa; Tanzania and Angola.

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They put some Sark on me, trying to turn me into a Ghanaian. Loved the hoodie though

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That look on my face is food excitement!

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After lunch we headed to the hotel, Zimbali Coastal Resort, that sat on a hill overlooking the ocean. Now that was a view. We checked in and had the day all to ourselves.

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Yes, I had to take a picture of it!

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Day 6 – Tour of Durban and a Sunset Cruise
Waking up in my hotel room reminded me of that MTN advert where the guy calls his girlfriend up to tell her to look outside her window at the sunrise. But much better. After a very quick breakfast, we headed out for our tour of Durban. We drove around for at least 3 hours and still had not covered half of what Durban had to offer. It was amazing to see how much they had to offer.

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After our tour, we got to eat then did one of the many things I had been looking forward to – the boat cruise. Cruising in a boat in Nigeria is one thing, but cruising in South Africa is a whole other thing entirely. We had a blast. I even played Titanic with Martin {I know what you’re thinking, please don’t say it, lol}.

We got to see humongous Jelly Fish, hit big waves but sadly didn’t see any whales. Perhaps next time, because there definitely will be a next time.My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013197 My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013191 My Expericne at MercedesBenz Fashion Week Africa 2013 - BellaNaija - November2013200

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…Visit South Africa, Check!

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The group from West West Africa with our Tour Guide Thoko Jilli

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Wohoo!

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There is no feeling like this one right here.

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West African Jack & Rose…yeah I said it!

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Copy Cats!

Day 7 – Leaving the ground for the view of the 1000 hills.
I now realize how much I love adventure. We had our helicopter ride and surprisingly I was the only one that really wanted to sit up front. Not very Naija of me right? The ride was amazing. We went over the golden mile, which is the stretch of the beach by the ocean, had an overview of the posh side of town and saw more hills than I could count, even though they say there are a thousand.

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Samantha smiling out of fear, me thinking twice about sitting up front

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The whole crew

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Let’s do this!

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We decided to take it slow that day so we had a brief lunch at the delicious Oyster Box and headed back to the hotel for a swim – our last hurrah together.

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Now that was a spicy meal!

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Say Gangsta! Gangsta!

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I have to admit, there is nothing I don’t love about South Africa. It has so much history, it has had its bad times but now it has come out victorious. It has been dubbed one of the best places for African fashion and is making its mark on not just the fashion industry, but on the world.

Will I be coming to South Africa again. Heck yes! I joked about buying land there so they can’t ever drive me away lol. But this trip is more than worth taking again and again. Hopefully when I return I’ll add Cape Town to my list of conquered places.

Special thanks to South African Tourism, South Africa Airways, TopComm Nigeria and everyone who made this trip amazing.
______________________________________________________________________________________
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26 Comments

  1. zn

    November 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    the titanic joke……….so hilarious!! Copycats got me cracking…lol

  2. Adaeze

    November 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Mehn! You had so much fun Jennifer. I’m jealous! U had such a great time…wish to experience some of South Africa too. And you are a detailed narrator, thanks for sharing.

  3. Say the truth

    November 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    We really need to invest in tourism in naija. Everyone goes and builds hotel in Ikoyi and VI but there’s nothing for visitors to do outside the hotels other than clubbing. There are so many avenues for development we’re not taking advantage of. Wonderful photos my dear!

  4. jinkelele

    November 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    hey jennifer you be fish oh!
    Nice eyebrows…and I have the same black skirt
    Not a fan of fashion but love traveling tho

  5. Mohammed

    November 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Fabulous…South Africa is just amazing anyday…..anytime

  6. Bella

    November 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Love The Oyster Box, Love Zimbali… love Cape Town.. Love South Africa the NYC of Africa.

  7. Starr

    November 21, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Go girl! Now you’ve given me every reason to visit SA.
    I’m certain you will love the Gambia (if you haven’t been there yet)

  8. Yaw

    November 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Visit Cape Town and you will love SA the more. Durban is cool especially the beach. Wouldn’t mind hosting you some kind of way when next you visit.xxx

  9. lola

    November 21, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Wow,I loved the narative made me feel like I wasted my last vacation to SA cos I didn’t visit half as much places as u did, planning my next trip to southafrica, I’ll maximize every day spent, no sleeping in and lazing around for me this time am going to touch base, thanx J for awakening the adventurer in me

  10. Baker Street

    November 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Oh yes… SA is amaze balls. Can’t wait to go back.

  11. Mariaah

    November 21, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    OMG!! Jennifer is this you?? Aww.. I like how BN gives us a glimpse of her staff once in a while.. 🙂

    You are so pretty!! haha.. OMDz I am so jealous!! You had so much fun and again thks for the narratives.. Sans the crime rate we hear of SA has done great with its tourism industry. I only wish Nigeria would take a hint!

    For one, there is a place in Abuja (Karshi). If I had money, I would buy the place and transform it pronto! There is a natural waterfall people don’t know except students and alumni of GSSK Karshi Abuja, the Gwandara, Fulani people in the area.

  12. Endo

    November 21, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    SA looks amazing! Can’t wait to visit

    Share your endometriosis stories @ endochallenges.wordpress.com. Let’s beat endo together!

  13. Stylefash25

    November 21, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Woww you had so much fun. I am so jealous right now. My trip there was so short and work related so it was boring. Need to go back asap. I heard The Gambia is so much fun too.

    Love how you enjoyed every single day and your helicopter fashionista moment :O)

    stylefash25.blogspot.com

  14. Mz Socially Awkward...

    November 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Now I want a holiday. Now I want a holiday. NOW I WANT A HOLIDAY!

    Jen, it looked amazing and you seem like quite the playful pixie, sort of person who’ll be fun to go on holiday with 🙂

  15. Idak

    November 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    David Tlale, drama personified. Glad he has the talent to match the drama too.

  16. nich

    November 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    clean city equal to the ones in europe that is why nigerians and people from different parts of the world are traveling their spending their cash……….%85 of the environment in nigeria is just dirty and stinking and shame to those greedy politicians who send their kids abroad while they would have developed their own country……..fashola is the last hope for nigeria and the only person alive in nigeria who can make lagos a modern city with the eko atlantic city dream………..for me eko atlantic city is the greatest thing that can happen in nigeria after the obasanjo’s GSM phone era………

    even with about 120 degrees of weather by 7;00 am to 11;00 am and about 145 degrees for the rest of the day in dubai (burning hot weather) yet more than 40,000 people visit the dubai mall everyday from all over the world and more than 9 million visitors visti the country every year………thousands of africans are now living in dubai permanently……….God bless fashola and the eko atlantic city………..

  17. eve

    November 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    she’s so natural and fresh … no bleaching no bresilian hair NOTHING

  18. NaijaPikin

    November 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Awww Jennifer you’re looking so much like Omo….. Looks like you had fun

  19. hot mama

    November 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Awwww…Jennifer is such a pretty gal…now I HAVE to really put my SA trip into action and not mere words.

  20. Weather

    November 22, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Wow! U obviously had a swell time! I’m jelox.

  21. Berry Dakara

    November 22, 2013 at 8:21 am

    This post makes me a little sad. Why? Because Nigeria has so much unrealized potential, and I honestly don’t know if a fraction of that potential will be attained in the next 30 years. If it wasn’t for the blatant corruption, unstable power, insecurity, inadequate healthcare and more, the Tourism Industry in Nigeria should be just as good as South Africa, Ghana, Gambia, etc. Do you know that Lagos, Rivers, Delta, etc could have seaside resorts that actually make sense?!?!?!

    *le sigh*

    Anyways, glad you had fun Jennifer!

    berrydakara.blogspot.com

  22. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    November 22, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    @Berry Dakara, you took the words right out of my mouth. Its so painful to see how much we are neglecting and letting go to waste. Even at that, truth is, very few Nigerians love their country, and seeing how things are, its easy to see why.

    Its nice to see the beauty behind the name, Jennifer. Your sense of self depreciating humor brought it home.

    I need a holiday in my life too. I actually wanted to travel to Scotland for the holidays until my vision of the beautiful green country side was jostled by the weather man. I had totally forgotten what time of the year it is. Only God knows when I would have time again (sad, drawn sigh).

  23. The Real Madam the Madam

    November 25, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Nice! I keep saying I need to join you guys at the BN team and go on such nice trips :-p

    And Jennifer, you are so pretty.

  24. viv

    December 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    that was a nice work holiday! like your natural look
    Jeniffer, speaks beauty. BN thumbs up. need to go to this SA people
    talk so much about …..thinking……

  25. Chinemerem Alisiobi

    December 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Wow! Next time, I’ll leave the model lodge and come stay
    with you!

  26. D

    January 19, 2016 at 8:30 am

    Excellent travel diary. Makes me want to go to SA….

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