Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Wonders of the Mysterious Pyramids of Egypt


The Wonders of the Mysterious Pyramids of Egypt

Nobody had ever mentioned the name Egypt without thinking about this country’s wondrous and historic pyramids. At a certain point in human history, during the third and fourth dynasty of the old kingdom, Egypt was one of the richest and most powerful civilisations in the world. This was more than 4000 years again, when the value of the king or the Pharaoh was at the very summit. Kings were held in deep reverence and believed to be the chosen mediators between human beings and the divine. Due to the perceived special role occupied by the kings in the welfare of the society, it was considered everyone’s responsibility to preserve the respect of the king, even long after his death. A dead king was believed to become Osiris, meaning the God of the dead; while the successor of the dead king became Horus, the falcon-God, who had the duty to protect the Sun God, Ra.
It’s during this time that the construction of Pyramids started in Egypt. The most celebrated pyramids in Egypt are the Giza Pyramids, which feature amongst some of the most exhilarating man-made structures in human history.

Since the incipience of the dynasty system in Egypt in about 2950 B.C., regal tombs were inscribed into rocks and covered with rectangular structures having a flat roof known as Mastabas, which served as a starting point for the construction of Pyramids. The first pyramid constructed in Egypt was the step pyramid at Saqqara, for the third dynasty of King Djoser. This was around 2630 BC. The step pyramid commenced as mastabas, but was later transformed into a full pyramid consisting of six layers of stone, and reached a height of 62 metres, becoming the tallest building in Egypt at the time. Surrounding the pyramid was a complex of court yards, temples and shrines, where king Djoser was held to continue enjoying after death. After the reign of King Djoser, the step pyramid continued to serve the purpose of royal burials.

The most distinguished pyramids in Egypt are the fascinating pyramids of Giza, which are situated on the fringes of present day Cairo, on a plateau west of the banks of the famous river Nile, the longest river in Africa. The pyramid was built for the ruler at the time, King Khufu. The oldest and biggest of the three pyramids at Giza is the only surviving structure of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The pyramid reaches a height of 147 metres, rendering it the largest pyramid ever, in the world. Three smaller pyramids that were purposely built for the queen are positioned beside the Great Pyramid, and a tomb was later discovered nearby containing the sarcophagus of a certain Queen.
In keeping with the tradition of pyramids in Egypt, the Great pyramid is surrounded by rows of mastabas, where the king’s officials and relatives were buried, so as to continue accompanying and supporting the king in the afterlife.

The middle pyramid at Giza was constructed for King Khufu’s son called Khafre; and a unique feature of this particular pyramid was a Great Sphinx, a guardian statue inscribed in limestone, with the head of a man and the body of a lion. This was the very largest statue in the ancient world, with a width of 240 feet and a height of 66 feet. Subsequently, in the 18th dynasty, the Great Sphinx was worshipped as the image of a local form of the God Horus. The most Southernmost pyramid in Giza was constructed for Khafre’s son. It’s the shortest of the three pyramids and heralded the subsequent construction of smaller pyramids in Egypt, which were more common during the fifth and sixth dynasties.
According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, the construction of the Great pyramid for King Khufu took about twenty years of steady effort; and required the labour of 100.000 men. Archaeological evidence reveals that the pyramids were actually constructed by the labour of agricultural workers.
The construction of pyramids in Egypt continued to the fifth and sixth dynasties, but the overall quality and magnitude of the art was greatly reduced, in line with the diminishing power and prosperity of the kings themselves. Subsequently, pyramid builders began to engrave on the walls of the burial chambers of the pyramids, accounts of events that transpired during the reign of a particular king. This later became known as pyramid text and the earliest religious compositions in Egypt, were drawn from these texts.

The very last king who lived in the era of pyramid construction was King Pepy II, the second king of the sixth dynasty, who came to power as a young boy and ruled the kingdom for 94 years. During his rule, Egypt had lost its prosperity; and the perceived divine status of the king was also weakening. With the death of Pepy, the strong central government of Egypt eventually collapsed, and Egypt entered into a fresh but tumultuous era, known as the Intermediate period.

The Great pyramids of Egypt continue to attract millions of visitors from around the world, due to their enduring grandeur, coupled with their timeless awe and mystery. The pyramids continue to bear silent testimony of the greatness of the ancient Egyptian civilisation, and provide a means for deeper reflection regarding the nation’s ambitions.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

A breathtaking visit to Cape Point in Cape Town, South Africa


The Western Cape region of South Africa is one of the most charismatic visitor destinations in Africa. 

Cape Town the capital city of the Western Cape region is a very unassuming and generous city, with a beautiful and harmonious cultural blend, hence vividly typifying South Africa’s affectionate designation of the The Rainbow Nation. The charm of the city of Cape Town itself is hard to resist; with its awesome cityscape, refreshing environs and colourful people. Indeed, the city of Cape Town is considered to be one of the most geographically privileged cities in the world, due to the spectacular table mountain in its backdrop.
 About South-West of Cape Town is located the world-renowned Cape Point, historically known as The Cape of Good Hope, which is the southernmost tip of the African continent, and the only maritime location in the world where two oceans meet; with the relatively warm waves of the Indian Ocean blending with the chilly currents of the colossal Atlantic Ocean.
At Cape point is situated the Cape Nature reserve, which has been declared a world heritage site. This bountiful natural park covers an area of 7750 hectares, and flourishes in diverse flora and fauna. Prevalent in the park are animal species such as buck, baboons, Cape Mountain Zebra; as well as more than 250 species of birds. Indeed, Cape Point is a veritable paradise for the eco-explorer. The vegetation of the nature reserve is dominated by a species known as the fynbos, which though small, is classified as one of the six richest floral kingdoms in the world.

At the end of the 15th century, the Portuguese were enormously keen to discover the sea route from Europe through Africa to India. They dispatched successive explorers, all aimed at tracing the sea route to India. In 1487, this responsibility was assigned to a Portuguese navigator known as Bartolomeu Dias. He successfully sailed only around Africa and concluded that continuously sailing in the same direction would ultimately take one to India. Following this conclusion, he turned around and on his way home, in May 1488; he arrived at what he considered to be the Southern Most type of Africa. His debarkation was subjected to ferocious storms, which battered his vessel against the mighty cliffs. He therefore dubbed this region The Cape of Storms. However, King Juan the Second of Portugal later changed the name to The Cape of Good Hope, because the initial appellation of the Cape of storms intimidated potential and prospective explorers.
On July 8th 1497, Vasco da Gama successfully traced the sea to India. His expedition set off from the Port of Lisbon; and by November of the same year, he sailed around the Cape of Storms, or, The Cape of Good Hope, successfully arriving India.

At Cape point, rugged rocks and massive sharp cliffs cut deep into the ocean, rising to over 200 m above sea level. These cliffs enhance the dramatic character of the region, setting a breathtaking background to the eco-wealth of Cape nature reserve.
In the initial days of maritime expeditions, Cape point served as a vivid landmark of identification for explorers during the day and during the night, it posed a severe navigational threat to explorers, due to its aggressive storms and poor visibility, arising from viscous mist.
This subsequently prompted the construction of a light house, which could then enhance visibility in the area. The initial lighthouse was completed in 1859, and rises to about 249 m above sea level. It protrudes at the highest position of the peak, which can be accessed by a funicular called the flying Dutchman, named after a supposed apparition that was historically sighted there.
A visit to Cape Point or the Cape of Good Hope is an absolute compulsion for visitors to Cape Town. The expedition from Cape Town to Cape point is a whole day’s tour, which takes the visitor from Cape Town, through the Atlantic seaboard, winding its way via Chapman’s peak, considered to be one of the most dramatic sceneries in the world. 

The tour continues through a generally picturesque scenery, making its way to the fascinating Cape Point, where visitors expend a great deal of time exploring and assimilating the multiple enchantments offered by this famous region.
The tour continues on the other side of the Cape Peninsular, via Simon’s Town, Constantia, New Town and finally back to Cape Town. Therefore, this amazing and memorable trip takes one around the Cape Peninsular. No visitor to Cape Town has ever missed this panoramic and breathtaking tour around the Cape Peninsular. It’s a truly marvelling experience.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bamenda Traditional Regalia-Cameroon’s most beautiful traditional dress

 Bamenda Traditional Regalia-Cameroon’s most beautiful traditional dress

 The Bamenda traditional regalia of the Grassfield people in the North-West region of Cameroon, is one of Africa’s most beautiful and highly respected traditional dresses.

Bamenda, the capital of the North-West region of Cameroon, perfectly exemplifies Cameroon’s vibrancy, dynamism, ethnic and artistic diversity. Titivated by enchanting hills and a rolling topography, Bamenda is home to some of the most hospital and productive people in Cameroon. Affectionately known as Abakwa, Bamenda also has one of the most organised socio-traditional administrative structures in Cameroon. Bamenda is a town of spectacular ethnic and artistic wealth. Amongst some of the most impressive artistic marvels of Bamenda is the traditional regalia, a majestic and exquisite traditional costume, held in high regard all over Cameroon; and regarded as one of Africa’s most beautiful and elaborate traditional dresses.

 The Bamenda traditional regalia had always been an artistic and cultural hallmark of the vibrant people of the North-West region of Cameroon since time immemorial. In common with other cultural values, the very elaborate art of producing the dress had always been well preserved, and passed on from generation to generation. Over the years, some minor modifications have been inculcated on the dress, but its fundamental design and core cultural value had always remained intact.

To produce the dress, the essential fabric is acquired. A tailor then cuts, patterns and sews it according to designated cultural standards. The design artist then maps out a complex pattern of how the dress will be embellished; and this is then implemented using a needle and various colours of wool fibre. This then results in a colourful and elaborately embellished regalia. People can order a particular design of the regalia, tailor-made to suit their needs or preferences; but the fundamental pattern and design of the dress remains the same. Designers have made small modifications to the dress; so as to broaden the scope of its cultural value; for instance, the gong has been added; to assert the gong’s cultural value, as one of the most popular musical instruments in the North-West region of Cameroon. A sign of love has also been inculcated to the dress, as a mark of peace, mutual sympathy and respect in the community. The central portion of the dress is sometimes decorated with a star, both to enhance its beauty and to recognise the prevalence of a higher power to humans. In most cases, the neck of the dress is additionally elaborate and therefore, it is the most difficult part to implement, in terms of design.

Traditional administration is still very much alive in the North-West region of Cameroon; for, in numerous instances, each ethnic group or clan is headed by a traditional ruler known as a Fon or chief, whose duty is to cater for the welfare of the entire group; while also ensuring that long-standing cultural values and traditions are adhered to, preserved and imparted upon successive generations. The traditional regalia won by the Fons is designed slightly different from that won by ordinary people in that, it’s fitted with a symbol of the sun in front and behind. This symbolises that their benevolent authority shines over the territory of their jurisdiction, with a generosity as mighty as that of the sun

The design for women is also slightly different from that for men. The women put on the female regalia with a headscarf, while the men put it on with a colourful cap. Both men and women put on collated beads with the dress, worn around the neck. More often, the men also carry a traditional bag when dressed in the traditional regalia.
The dress can be worn by any member of that ethnic, tribal or cultural entity. Putting on the attire can be an expression of one’s dignity; a manifestation of one’s ethnic identity, or symbolic acceptance and satisfaction with one’s culture. On putting on the Bamenda traditional regalia, one is expected to conduct oneself with dignity, self-respect and decorum, amongst one’s counterparts or companions. One is not expected to dress in this traditional wear and conduct oneself in an impertinent and casual manner. Such conduct may be viewed as disregarding the intrinsic cultural value of the regalia; and may result in one being viewed as a cultural non-conformist. The dress can be won during solemn occasions such as cultural festivals, ceremonial events or any other activity which calls for cultural pride.

The Bamenda regalia is not just a dress, but a very powerful component of cultural identity for the people of the North-West region of Cameroon. Therefore, when someone puts on the Bamenda traditional regalia, it’s highly likely that the individual hails from the North-West region of Cameroon.

In the North-West region of Cameroon, there are always high profile and extensive annual cultural festivals that take place in the palaces of the traditional rulers known as Fons. During these exhilarating and splendid cultural festivals, the whole clan or ethnic group celebrates various aspects of their culture, including traditional dances and a display of artistic cultural treasures. On such occasions also, one can view the colourful processions that are performed with this traditional regalia. It is on such events that one can actually capture the cultural elegance of this exquisite cultural dress. Prominent examples of such festivals include that in the palace of the Fon of Mankon and also in the palace of the Fon of Bafut.

Even though the Bamenda traditional regalia is associated with the Grassfield people in the North-West region of Cameroon, it has acquired national recognition by Cameroon’s ministry of culture, as one of Cameroon’s rare and distinctive artistic cultural designs.

Therefore, in some international cultural events, the Bamenda regalia is displayed or showcased, as one of Cameroon’s unique cultural artistry. To this effect, the Bamenda traditional regalia is known all over the world. 

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Cameroon: A unique and enriching experience in the heart of Africa


Cameroon: A unique and enriching experience in the heart of Africa

With the shape of its territory resembling an elongated vertical triangle, Cameroon is a charming and greatly interesting country, located in the Western Central region of Africa. In terms of territorial surface area, Cameroon is classed as the 53rd largest country in the world. This generous and amiable African nation has an estimated population of 20 million inhabitants, comprising mostly dynamic and energetic young people. This colourful nation is privileged to be situated on the Gulf of Guinea, bordering the bight of Biafra on the Atlantic seaboard, a position that offers it complete access to the mighty Atlantic Ocean and provides its with maritime access to all the regions of the world. Cameroon maintains territorial frontiers with Chad to the North; Central Africa Republic to the East ;Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the South; Nigeria to the West; and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Seaboard) to the South-West. Cameroon is strategically situated at the intersection of Central and West Africa, rendering it a gateway to many other African countries.

Cameroon is usually regarded as one of the most peaceful countries in Africa and the world because not only does the country enjoy long-term internal socio-political stability, but it also maintains very healthy, peaceful and cordial relationships with all its neighbours, making it one of the friendliest nations in Africa.
 One of the most remarkable features about Cameroon is its bubbling and unmatched cultural and ethnic diversity; a nation that comprises about 250 ethnic groups, each with a distinctive traditional language, micro-culture and unique ethnic identity. 
Therefore, Cameroon is considered to be the most ethnically and linguistically diverse country in Africa, offering the most marvelling discoveries to visitors. Ethnic groups and larger cultural entities dwell in mutual fraternal goodwill and harmonious co-existence, hence strengthening the sense of mutual tolerance that is touchingly visible throughout the nation. Each ethnic group offers unique sensation, with respect to architecture, traditional dance, food, dressing, language, artistic dexterity, trading preference, believe, folklore and legend etc. Cameroonians are wonderfully friendly, receptive and kind to visitors, making your presence in their midst uplifting, secured and comfortable. English and French are simultaneously utilised as the country’s official languages, offering you a choice, as to the language you are most comfortable with.

Cameroon offers the visitor a uniquely rich African experience that can never be replicated elsewhere else; and continues to delight your memories long after you must have departed. The country flourishes in a breathtaking spectrum of interesting features and exciting activities, each carefully flavoured with the treasure of Africa’s uniqueness.
As a tribute to its extensive diversity, Cameroon is usually called Africa in miniature because any interesting feature available in other African countries can be found in Cameroon, to a smaller or wider degree, rendering it the nation in which inhabits the whole of Africa, so to speak.

Cameroon is naturally privileged with the splendour of dramatic scenery, including mountains, escarpments, valleys and plains. Your imagination will be nourished by the country’s vast spectrum of natural features; including shift-flowing and voluminous rivers, magnificent waterfalls, alluring lakes, mind-blowing caves, staggering mountains, beautifully undulating hills, astounding beaches etc. You will be marvelled by Cameroon’s varied and astounding vegetation; amongst which are, majestic evergreen equatorial forest, spectacular highland montane forest, enticing semi-deciduous stretches and vast fields of breath-taking wooded savannah. 

Cameroon’s ultimate allurement is its wildlife treasures that are well preserved in its numerous national parks and thriving nature reserves. Whether it be lions, elephants, monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, birds, giraffes etc, the delight of observing these wonderful creatures in their natural habitats, will be at your full discretion.

Whether you opt to nourish your sight on inspiring evergreen equatorial forests, be marvelled by vast stretches of savanna grassland, or be ecstatsised by the genial mellows of nature on vast stretches of unspoilt and pacifying sandy beaches, the latitude is yours. Whether you opt to imbibe the charm of its enchanting lakes, consume the tranquilising echoes of its smooth-flowing rivers, intimately capture the awe of its fascinating mountains and escarpments, or view the splendour of animals in their natural habitat, the discretion is all yours. Whether you are a diehard adventurer, an adrenalin fanatic, nature lover, cultural explorer, a hedonistic pursuer, a curiosity quencher, or simply seeking spontaneous and organic remedy to your stress and nervous breakdown, Cameroon awaits to fulfil your demands , needs, wants, fantasies and above all, your cherished expectations. Welcome to Cameroon.

Indeed, Cameroon’s touristic magnetism and charismatic personality are simply irresistible. Try Cameroon today; and you will be delighted you did.

          Cameroonian most craved nutritious yummy just for you.

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