Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
SHE has been mesmerised by Zimbabwe’s beautiful sunsets, enchanted by the majestic Victoria Falls, the world’s biggest curtain of falling water, which is also one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Most importantly, she has also been overwhelmed by warmth and hospitality of locals.
This aptly sums up Kenyan travel adventurer and online content creator, Ms Mercyline Masanya’s feeling as her holiday trip to the country draws to an end.
Ms Masanya who goes by the name African Tigress on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, has literally become Zimbabwe’s digital tourism ambassador since arriving in the country early this month.
Out of more than 20 African countries that she has visited in the last two years, African Tigress has fallen in love with Zimbabwe, describing it as “the most beautiful country with warm hearted people.”
Being her first time in Zimbabwe, African Tigress has so far visited Harare and Victoria Falls with Bulawayo likely to be her next destination.
African Tigress is exploring the Mighty Victoria Falls. She hopes to visit Bulawayo and attend the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) as well as get an opportunity to relish her moment of adventure by exploring the city’s tourist attractions.
“For me, travelling is a passion and it is also a way for me to meet new friends, learn new cultures and explore business opportunities. Travel exposes me to new horizons and I think it is important to normalise visiting other African countries, not only to explore the beauty of our continent, but to also understand our diverse cultures and food among other things,” she said.
“This is my first time to visit Zimbabwe and it is such an amazing and beautiful country. So far, I have been to Victoria Falls and Harare where I visited several suburbs such as Borrowdale, Avondale, Mbare and Mt Pleasant. The city gives an impression of laid-back Nairobi and the streets are so wide and less congested unlike back home in Nairobi.”
African Tigress said the major highlight of her visit is the warmth and friendliness of Zimbabweans, experiencing the local culture and marvelling at the impressive beauty of Victoria Falls.
“Zimbabweans are so friendly, loving and warm. I have been in the country for more than two weeks now and I am actually enjoying the adventure, cultural dances and also getting an opportunity to see Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world,” she said.
“It has always been my dream to visit Zimbabwe. Initially, I wanted to visit the country at the beginning of the year, but unfortunately there was a lockdown.”
Zimbabwe is her second country to visit in Southern Africa after South Africa. Some of the countries that she has visited in Africa include Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria and Tanzania.
“So far, I have visited more than 20 countries in Africa and a few outside the continent and Zimbabwe is the best destination. The more I experience Zimbabwe, the more I keep falling in love with this country,” she said.
As her holiday trip comes to an end, African Tigress has vowed to return and explore other places such as Matopos, Great Zimbabwe, the Eastern Highlands and Binga beaches among others.
“Zimbabwe has so much on offer, you just can’t exhaust everything in a single trip. If I don’t make it to Great Zimbabwe and the Eastern Highlands this time, I will definitely include those places in my next itinerary when I visit. I also would love to visit the Doma people in Kanyemba,” she said.
African Tigress said all her trips are self-funded. She generates income from her content through Google and sponsored ads.
After every visit, she creates digital content, which she then posts on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
She has more than 120 000 subscribers on YouTube.
“For instance, in the event that you will be offering a certain product or service and you want people to know about it, you pay and I advertise it for you because I have a very big audience and every day, I get new subscribers,” said African Tigress.
“I also inspire people who watch my videos to travel to those countries that I would have visited. A lot of people that I interact with on my digital platforms end up visiting those countries after watching my videos.”
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) head of corporate affairs Mr Godfrey Koti said there is need to utilise digital platforms to market the country as an ideal choice of destination.
“This speaks to our digital drive that we have always talked about as far as marketing Zimbabwe as a tourism destination is concerned. It is therefore, important for us to strengthen and collaborate more with people like Africa Tigress who have a wider audience,” he said.
“We are very delighted that African Tigress has been marketing our country to multitudes of her subscribers on her YouTube channel. This is what we should be pushing by all means possible. We would like to engage more with bloggers and social influencers because this is where most people consume content.” — @mashnets