SUNDAY July 30, 2023
By Patty Magubira,
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
High end tourists are likely to stream in Tanzania once Siobhan Brady is confirmed to have broken her own Guinness World Record for playing harp on the World’s highest free-standing mountain.
Just before her dust has settled, two high profile tourists, namely Che Smith — Chicago rapper popularly known at stage as Rhymefest Smith, and Tracey Crouch — Member of Parliament for Chatham and Aylesford, UK, arrived in Tanzania.
“Whatever it is we’ve been looking for throughout our lives is coming into focus at the moment,” the US artist, writer, political organiser and teacher says in his Instagram post as he admires colours and light of the sunrise in the sky at Serengeti National Park also in Tanzania.
In 2005, Rhymefest won a Grammy for co-writing the mega-hit ‘Jesus Walks’ along with his childhood friend — Kanye West.
The UK MP is, in turn, still scaling Mount Kilimanjaro along with six other women in aid of a breast cancer charity. Tracey, the former sports minister, who cannot wait to see the night sky on the mountain, has recovered from breast cancer herself following support from Breast Cancer Kent.
Why have the duo opted for Serengeti and Kilimanjaro, it remains to be seen; but upon descending on Tuesday July 25, 2023, Siobhan (pronounce Sheh-vahn) showered praises on the tourist site, admitting that its summit has spectacular views of mountain scenery, especially picturesque.
“It was absolutely stunning; every single walk was just beautiful. I hope documenting it will inspire people from all over the world to travel to the summit, more people need to know about it,” she says.
Siobhan and 19 other members of her team sent harp all the way from Ireland to the summit to raise funds to assist people with cystic fibrosis and to show case the beauty of Tanzania.
They trekked for five days to reach the summit and two days to descend. “I had so much fun with the entire team, including the guides, they were just amazing, I laughed the entire way up,” she explains.
It took Mauly Tours’ porters and guides one-month rehearsals of carrying a 40-kilogram chest laden with lever harps to the summit.
Siobhan, a 24-year-old biological science Professor turned musician from Limerick, Ireland, spent barely 25 minutes to pluck and strike the harp to produce the Little Bird notes (https://youtu.be/YdOF_qYWx-s), among others.
She promises to promote Mount Kilimanjaro back home in her bid to attract many tourists of her like from across the globe to ascend to the snow-capped roof of Africa which sticks out a stone’s throw away from equator.
After breaking her own Guinness World Record for the highest altitude harp performance on Mount Kilimanjaro, the sky will be the limit to Siobhan.
The accomplished and experienced harpist says her dream now is to hold her next highest harp concert at over 100 kilometres above sea level in the outer space.
On September 6, 2018, Siobhan broke her maiden Guinness World Record when she performed at 4,954 metres above sea level on the summit of Singla Pass, Himalayas, Ladakh, India.
This time she performed the Celtic harp at 5,893 metres above sea level on the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, ascending through Machame Gate and descending past Mweka Route.
Caroline Heffernan, who has lived with the cystic fibrosis since the age of 13, is the sole member of the Cystic Fibrosis Ireland to ascend along with Siobhan and the Highest Harp Concert’s team to the summit.
Caroline resolved to scale Mount Kilimanjaro to inspire the youth with the disease to attempt achieving ‘seemingly’ unbearable milestones.
Cystic fibrosis, a disorder that damages lungs, digestive tract and other organs, is an inherited disease caused by a defective gene passed from generation to generation.
The disease affects cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices.
Siobhan dedicates the Guinness World Record on the Kilimanjaro summit to her late colleague Desmond Gentle with whom she performed at the peak of Singla Pass in India.
Barely 10 days after they left India, Desmond died of thrombosis at the age of 69.
“The week before he died, he said he wanted to perform again on Kilimanjaro, so we are doing it in his memory,” Siobhan explains.
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) chief executive officer Sirili Akko says the artist’s challenge to the Kilimanjaro summit offers the mountain a high-profile visibility.
“We appreciate the towering efforts she has put in place to raise the profile of the destination Tanzania higher in Ireland, the entire English-speaking market, to her fans and to music lovers around the globe,” says Sirili, adding:
“Her meticulous initiative has not only put her on the Guinness World Record, but also positioned Tanzania in the rightful position in the Guinness Book as the most world premier destination for all nature-based tourism products.”
Ireland’s envoy to Tanzania Mary O’Neil is upbeat the traditional harp, which is her country’s national symbol, will cement long standing ties between Tanzania and Ireland which date back to generations.
“Now that COVID-19 is finished, the skies are open and people are travelling again, Irish tourists should come to Tanzania to find between the beaches of Zanzibar, the plains of Serengeti and the beautiful mountain of Kilimanjaro.
“Listening to the Highest Harp Concert team, the welcoming they see and the friendliness; they feel very much at home,” the envoy says.
Green and fresh sight, with full of oxygen, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro reminds Mary of Ireland. “There’s something for everybody,” she stresses.
“The Tanzania Government is happy to see Siobhan following footsteps of President Samia Suluhu Hassan,” says Dr Hassan Abbas, the Permanent Secretary in Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry, as he sees off the Highest Harp Concert’s team at Machame Gate.
Dr Samia attempted to scale the mountain during the production of a documentary dubbed Tanzania: The Royal Tour in her bid to promote the mountain and to attract investors in the same.
The President assumes the role of a tour guide to Peter Greenberg, US Tourism Editor with NBC’s Today, CNBC and MSNBC, in the film launched in New York on April 18, 2022.
Dr Samia showcases Tanzania’s rich cultural, wildlife heritage and an array of investment opportunities in the film.
A blessing in disguise
Travel and tourism were hardest hit when the COVID-19 was at its peak, with tourists’ arrivals falling from slightly over 1.5 million in 2019 to 620,867 in 2020.
The drop triggered a devastating plunge in revenue collections to $1.7 billion in 2020, down from an all-time record of $2.6 billion in 2019, compelling both the public and the private sectors to carry out a number of response measures.
They jointly engaged an international marketing company to promote Tanzania as a top-notch tourism destination in the US and organised Travel Agents FAM trips to the country.
As we speak, the Bank of Tanzania’s report on the state of the economy between May 2022 and May 2023 says tourism has registered $2.87 billion from over 1.6 million tourist arrivals during the period in reviewΩ