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A couple travels thousands of miles to wed at ancestral land

From America to the cradle of mankind with love

THURSDAY July 14, 2022

PHOTO | NEWSWEEK

By Adam Ihucha

Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania

It was a beautiful day with the sun shining brightly from a clear blue sky, as Afro-American son and daughter arrive at their African ancestral home.

Cheers and excitement rocked the sky as the groom, Mr Herb Moutra, and the bride, Ms Sharon, both from California in America, landed at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), Tanzania, at around 9:00am on Monday July 4, 2022.

“It’s unbelievable! We’ve never been celebrated in American like we’re here. Indeed, there’s no place like home. Thank you so much my brothers and sisters,” Mr Herb said during concise greetings at the airport.

For years, Mr Herb and Ms Sharon lived with a faint hope that one-day they would travel to Africa to discover their ancestral roots and wed traditionally.

“When there’s a will, there’s a way, here we’re to reunite with our brothers and sisters after being awfully separated during the worst slave trade about 400 years ago,” the emotional Herb said.

Mr Herb Moutra, the US national, leads his companions during his traditional wedding ceremony held at Kigongoni, a tiny Maasai village situated along the slopes of the Great Rift Valley in northern Tanzania. VIDEO AND PHOTOS | COURTESY

Having been born and bred amid the forest of skyscrapers of the American city of California, Mr Herb and Ms Sharon had a dream of getting back into their ancestral natural settings to revisit the life before the snake had tempted Eve.

Thanks to the Off the Beaten Path Safaris, the Afro-American couple was picked to Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, nearly a 45-minute drive from the airport to rest and get ready for their big day at a tiny Maasai village.

The founder of the Off the Beaten Path Safaris, Mr Salim Mrindoko chose Kigongoni Village along the slopes of the Africa’s Rift Valley, near the area the human evolution took place, as a suitable Garden of Eden for hosting Mr Herb and Ms Sharon’s customary wedding.

As it happened, the Afro-American couple exchanged their marriage vows before Maasai elders in a colorful traditional wedding hosted at a typical cultural boma, just a stone’s throw away from the Oldupai Gorge within Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The Afro-American groom, Mr Herb Moutra, leads a convocation to his wedding reception at Kigongoni Village in Arusha, Tanzania.

Mankind evolution site

Ngorongoro covers original sites where the first human being is believed to have originated and actually lived millions of decades ago. This is where the entire globe population would have liked to trace their ancestral roots.

After all, the world has seen it all; modern technological inventions, trips to the moon, exploration to the outer space and diving into the deepest seas. What most are yet to witness, however, is the ancient life that preceded all these.

Humans have very much evolved and multiplied, with their population expected to reach an 8 billion mark this November, if the latest UN data is anything to go by. After centuries of innovations, most of them would wish to ‘travel back in time’ and retrace their ancestors ‘real’ footsteps.

Within Ngorongoro, the dinosaur age settings can be found, still in their authentic natural forms, unchanged and unspoiled, mapped onto two adjacent sites; namely Olduvai and Laetoli.

Named after the sword-shaped wild sisal thriving in the area, Oldupai (Olduvai) together with its adjacent Laetoli hominid footprint site, remain the only place where the world’s ancient natural stamps still exist.

The Afro-American bride, Ms Sharon (Centre), poses for a souvenir picture before she enters a cultural hut in which her traditional ritual for her marriage took place.

At Olduvai, Tanzania has set a global record by establishing the world’s largest human history museum built right on the archaeological discovery sites.

And for Mr Herb and Ms Sharon, this area where they wedded is the perfect scene for life before the Biblical Cain and Abel, the life before Nephilim giants and the Noah’s flood.

Their historical wedding in their ancestral land brought back the world which used to exist shortly after the Biblical beginning of the earth.

“Welcome back home the son and daughter of the soil. We bestow upon you, your ancestral blessings. We pra that God guides you in your new adventure,” said the Maasai traditional leader, Mr Lembris Ole Meshuko, during the ceremony.

The Maasai community offered the newlywed couple new names of Lamnyak for Herb and Namanyan for Sharon as their ancestral designations.

A newly Afro-American wedded couple, Mr Herb and Ms Sharon, pose for a photo after viewing the landscape at Ngorongoro Crater Rim in Arusha, Tanzania.

“This wedding is a gift to our fellow Africans, our very own relatives. It took this long, about 400 years, to come back and reunite with you my brothers and sisters,” said the emotional Herb, expressing his gratitude to some 80-year-old Maasai elders who crossed the Serengeti plains just to attend their wedding.

Wildlife Haven

While the Tanzanian people, breathtaking sceneries and other natural resource reserves are enough to grab one’s attention, it is until when one gets to the sprawling Serengeti National Park when it dawns that he or she gets into a real Biblical garden of Eden, thanks to its abundant wildlife flawlessly wandering across the endless savannah.

In their first leg into Serengeti, the Afro-American couple came face-to-face with a natural sanctuary for hundreds of thousands of animals such as leopards, rhino, wildebeest, zebra, lions, buffalos, giraffes, warthog, monkeys, baboons, antelopes, hyena, gazelle, topi, cranes and lizards all free to wander.

No sooner, as it happened, the newlywed couple went wild, ululating, charting, saying the natural beauty of the Serengeti made them feel as if they were in a wildlife heaven.

“This is a tantalising natural place remaining on earth, our brothers and sisters in the US and across the globe should know about and come to visit it. Forget about lifeless animals we see in the zoos,” Mr Herb said.

Their experience and ambiance did not end there. The Afro-American couple also had fallen in love with a five-star bush camp they spent two nights in the jungle, surrounded by hundreds of harmless wild animals at night.

Mr Herb and Ms Sharon, the Afro-American couple stop for a picture on their way to Oldupai Gorge at Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Arusha, Tanzania. The couple vowed to visit the country once again with their family members and friends next year.

“We’ve got lunch in the midst of Serengeti savannah, just 200 meters to where lions were also having theirs. This is a lifetime adventure,” he said as he vowed to come back with his family members and friends next year.

Wildlife experience aside, the couple was also moved by the hospitality of the people of Tanzania, services, amenities like exclusive bathrooms with hot shower, ice cream and environmental friendly solar-powered electricity in the middle of the wilderness, particularly hotels and bush camps they stayed in.

“The hospitality of the people of Tanzanian is outstanding! We were accorded with royal services right from the onset, we were served by nice waitresses and waiters, all the time wearing truly human smiles on their faces,” Mr Herb testified.

Their travel was partly prompted by President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s tour to the US during the debut of the Tanzania: The Royal Tour Film, in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere, he said, adding that the film was an eye opener to most Americans.

“It’s a great experience to be in Africa. I used to hear negative stories about Africa back in America.  We were told Africa is poor, full of aggressive beggars, kids die of hunger and all negative-related narratives. But when I first arrived here, I was shocked to see the beauty of Africa that had never been talked about,” Ms Sharon said.

Tourists enjoy their bush lunch in Serengeti National Park. A meal in the jungle is slowly, but surely, becoming a favourite item for the majority of holiday makers, as they connect with nature.

She vowed to go back in America and tell the truth about Africa as part of her contribution to changing the negative narrative about her ancestral land.

“I’ve really enjoyed. People are nice, respectful, lovely and extremely generous.  I’ve an unforgettable experience that no one can take away from me. I take the hidden truth about Africa back to the US,” Ms Sharon said.

Discovering ancestral roots 

Off the Beaten Path Safaris has come up with a ‘Discover Your Ancestral Roots’ tourism product, adding on its conventional list of adventures, as it seeks to offer Afro-Americans the opportunity for exploring their ancestors’ history through places, objects and tastes.

“I believe Afro-Americans are passionate in bridging cultural gaps by coming back home to explore their heritage and fill personal void,” Mr Mrindoko said.

The man behind the innovation said the ‘Discover Your Ancestral Roots’ tourism product has the potential for diversifying Tanzania’s wildlife viewing, mountain climbing and beach offerings.

Tourists en route to Tanzania’s northern tourist circuit to sample the beauty of the East African resource-rich country.

From Oldupai Gorge where the first human being traces were discovered, all the way to Kilwa historical sites in Coastal Zone to see the slave trade route and markets in Zanzibar will form the Discover Your Ancestral Roots package, Mr Mrindoko explained.

The Afro-American tourists would also visit the slave market and dungeon in Zanzibar where they would encounter an ugliest face of slave trade in Africa.

They will also be visiting the historical Prison Island, popularly known as Changuu Island, that lies barely a 30-minute boat ride from Unguja, where stunningly horrific records of slavery in the Arab world and within Africa are preserved.

The Island was once used by an Arab trader to contain and prevent  some troublesome slaves from the African mainland from escaping before shipping them to the Arabian purchasers or for auctioning at the Zanzibar market.

“Tanzania has a myriad of evidences of slave trade. I want Afro-Americans, who seek to trace their roots and reconnect with their relatives, to come,” Mr Mrindoko added.

The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators CEO, Mr Sirili Akko, admitted that the Off the Beaten Path Safaris would stand out of the crowd, owing to its groundbreaking innovationΩ

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