Ruaha, which is the second largest National Park in Tanzania, was recently listed among the most romantic destinations on the African Continent.
But newlyweds, Dr Frank Richard and Stella Joel, seem to have a different idea; as far as they are concerned, Lake Manyara National Park should be the suitable garden of Eden for any aspiring Adam and Eve.
Therefore, just as the whole world now observes the romantic month of February, Stella and Hubby decided to get back into natural settings.
Having spent much of their time serving at the Altar as singers, the couple chose to revisit the life before the snake tempted Eve. Getting wedded in the typical garden of Eden settings as provided by the lush-green and wildlife packed Lake Manyara.
The National Park, located adjacent to Mto-wa-Mbu, along the road to Serengeti via Karatu and Ngorongoro, became the perfect scene for the life before Cain and Abel, the life before Nephilim giants and the Noah’s flood.
Their historical wedding brought back the world which used to exist short after the Biblical beginning of the earth.
They left behind city cacophonies and took cover under the lush forest of Lake Manyara, one of the smallest, but even more beautiful National Park which is very easily accessible from Arusha City.
As they both affirmed “I do!” a herd of elephants a few meters away looked up. At least, that is how Frank recalls.
In cities, wedding are usually colored with blaring trumpets from hired brass bands, but at Lake Manyara National Park, it was elephants that naturally trumpeted using their trunks, free of charge.
Tree climbing lions, are the trademark of Lake Manyara, the cats also looked down from the branches onto the couple below and possibly nodded too.
Unfortunatly there were no apples served during meals. Also while many wild animals colored the wedding settings, the old Snake was Conspicuously missing from the scene.
Catherine Mbena is the Assistant Conservation Commissioner in charge of Communications at the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), who explains that, wedding in game parks is now a new package of tourism and will be highly promoted.
The Assistant Commissioner of Conservation in charge of Lake Manyara, Dr Noelia Myonga said the wedding at the National Park, opens new window of activities at the destination.
“It is a new concept, quite creative and we are intending to package and highly promote this to make it a popular type of Safari in future,” added Dr Myonga.
But it was foreign tourists who happened to be sampling the National park, who really enjoyed the feat, joining the cheering and dancing.
“When it comes to bush-based nuptials, you never know who will attend your wedding,” laughs the Frank Richard when we visited them later, at their home at the PPF Estates in Njiro section of Arusha City.
Pop go the Gospel
Both the bride and the groom happen to be Musicians but singing on the gospel side of business. The modern and rather poppish kind of church tunes.
“So! Was it a reminiscence of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?” we asked them.
“Let’s just say we wanted to do things differently,” said Frank.
And Frank always love to strike new grounds. He is the founder of the country’s first ‘Music and Culture Museum,’ which he established in Karatu.
“And soon my Wife and I will construct the first music training center and recording studios.” he added.
His wife is also quite a figure in the country’s music industy. Judging by certificates and accolades decorating their sitting room.
Stella happens to head the Tanzania Music Forum (TAMUFO).
In the beginning God made……! Well, the couple’s beginning started in church, the lady belting soprano in choir and the man strumming away on electric bass guitar and when their eyes met, the atmosphere was electrified … sort of.
But at their cosy home in Themi Hills, Njiro, the groom in his dark suit and maroon bow tie, plays an acostic guitar.
The living room is full of friends, many being church leaders and all sing along to the rythim.
“We fell in love started relationship then all of a sudden, Frank dissapeared, only to return a few years later,” explains, Stella. She is one patient lady.
Romeo and Juliet?
As fate had it, Frank admits to have tried being vagabond but somehow something continued to pull him back to Stella, so he returned.
But how long is he going to stay?
“This time till death does us apart” he affirms.
Next year, the couple plans to return to Lake Manyara for the first anniversary of their bush wedding in the National Park.
But in between, we may get to experience more weddings taking place at Lake Manyara and Arusha National Parks or any other park which is easily accessible from nearest towns.