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FLYING HIGH IN MZANSI

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An invitation by South African Tourism to Jozi for the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz turned out to be an experience of a lifetime.

From being humbled by jazz music, walking down the streets of Africa’s richest metropolis to extreme sport like skydiving the visit will go down as one my most adventurous so far.

JAZZ MAESTRO: Simphiwe Dana

JOY OF JAZZ
The opening of the festival which had artists from as far as United States of America at Emperors Palace by the Gauteng Jazz Orchestra and African Soul Sisters set the stage alight. As the night went down with soothing sounds from the sisters, time for the star of the night finally arrived. Wynton Marsalis, 49-year-old trumpeter has nine Grammy Awards, the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for music and also holds an honorary degree.

American jazz legend set the stage alight as many got lost into his music often clapping hands and cheering while others seemed to be lost in deep thoughts as the music mesmerized their ears.

The festival continued through Friday and this time at the home of the arts, Newtown.  A stroll around brings one to the market theatre, Arts Museum and many other attractions. As the night approached, with sun setting behind tall buildings of eGoli and the city lights coming to life we all braced ourselves for yet another night of bliss and we were not disappointed.

Mango Groove, Take note, Ringo, Alexander O’ Neal, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Oliver Mtukuzi, Simphiwe Dana, Sibongile Khumalo, Hugh Masekela and many more all set the festival alight on all the different stages within the festival arena.

Ready to jump

SKYDIVING IN PRETORIA
Although Pretoria or Jacaranda City is only about 50km from Johannesburg, it offers a different and completely different experience as compared to the busy and fast paced Jozi. Extreme sport is available for the wild at heart. Wonderboom Airport is where one finds Tshwane’s adrenaline pumping home of the brave, Pretoria Skydiving Club. My excitement levels were high when we reached the club as this was going to be my first time ever to skydive.

The question that most of my fellow media crew wanted to know was the altitude at which we will jump off the aircraft. “At 11000 feet, we’ll jump off the aircraft and freefall for 40 seconds at the 240km/ hour” was the answer by Tandem Master Paul Kruger.

As fear, mixed with excitement took centre stage I started chanting motivational statements to drive butterflies flying in my stomach away.
We boarded the aircraft and quietly sat waiting for the moment of truth.

The strong winds entering the aircraft were the first introduction that there was no turning back. I watched as the brave photographers jumped out of the aircraft and hanged on the outside waiting for the tandem masters to exit as they capture the freefall.

ABOVE THE HORIZON: Free falling at 240km/ hr

With the tandem master on my back we both counted up to three and shouted skydive as we exited the plane. Freefalling at 240km/ hour, I kept my eyes open and the world seemed so small. The wind was very strong and I quickly spotted the photographer in front of me with his cameras mounted on his helmet. I made sure I do not miss any shots while in the air as moments like these really need to be captured on camera.

The parachute was deployed at about 6000 feet and a smooth glide down sailing through the wind was actually much more stable than the aircraft itself.

We touched down on our buttocks with screams of excitement and a huge smile, which still comes back every time I look at the photos. Surely the quiet administrative capital, Pretoria caters for both the wild at heart, the relaxed and Jozi is a short drive away to enjoy the fast paced atmosphere with all the hype one may need. You can never go wrong in Jozi…!