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Welcome to the African Travel safari blog. In this space, we share inspirational stories and ideas on adventures in Africa, plus our latest social posts! 

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Estelle Brand's Famous Fruit Cake Recipe

February 5th, 2019, by African Travel

We are proud to share the recipe of Nelson Mandela's favorite cake: Estelle Brand's famous fruit cake. The cake was smuggled into Robben Island prison by Christo Brand, who shared it with with Mandela and other political prisoners. It quickly became a sensation in the prison and was frequently requested by Nelson Mandela. 


  • 500g (18 oz.) mixed fruit
  • 250g (9 oz.) finely chopped dates
  • 100g (4 oz.) candied fruit
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 130g (5 oz.) butter or margarine, chopped into small slivers
  • 1 cup coffee (1 cup of hot water and 2 teaspoons of Nescafé)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 candied cherries, halved
  • 3 tablespoons of brandy


Put the butter, sugar, mixed fruit, dates, candied fruit and coffee into a bowl and microwave for 5 minutes on full power. When it comes out of the microwave, add the baking soda and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, all the spices and salt, and then fold this into the dried fruit, coffee, baking soda and butter mixture.

Beat in the 2 eggs and fold in the 8 candied cherries and mix well. Line the base of a microwaveable bowl with baking powder and grease the sides with butter. Tip the cake batter into the prepared bowl. The bowl must be approximately three-quarters full because the cake will rise about a quarter. Bake at medium/low power for 30 minutes. When it comes out of the microwave, put the brandy over the top immediately, then leave it to cool for a few minutes.

Once you can touch the sides of the dish, turn it out on to a rack. Once the cake is cold, wrap it in foil and every second week add a further 3 tablespoons of brandy. Mrs. Brand says that it is important to make the cake on the first of October so that it can have long enough to get moist and brandy-laden by the Christmas season. Enjoy!

Captivating Experiences in Cape Town

February 5th, 2019, by Lucille Sive

Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to Cape Town with Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc. and a group of travel trade partners. We spent 5 days in Cape Town and our trip was filled with wonderful events, performances and cuisine.

Here are a few of the highlights from my trip with images of our unforgettable experiences.

Table Bay Hotel

Situated on the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, The Table Bay Hotel is positioned against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. We were fortunate to have a wonderful choir called Isibane se Afrika and gumboot dancers from the township of Khayelitsha perform for us one evening. Their energy, spirit and performances were inspiring and beautiful!

Lucille Sive, TTC Africa Division CEO and Sherwin Banda, president of African Travel, Inc.
with gumboot dancers at The Table Bay Hotel


It was also wonderful to meet and interact with choir members and gumboot dancers and learn more about their aspirations. Isibane se Afrika means The Light from Africa. The choir’s mission is to be a force for good in their local township of Khayelitsha, to work with other people who want to do good, and to help build a positive future for the young people from their community.

Andisiwe Mbuje (holding microphone) with members from the Isibane se Afrika choir


Isibane se Afrika was created in 2000 by Andisiwe Mbuje who wanted to give young people from her township the opportunity to be part of something that makes a positive impact in their own lives and those around them.

Our group was so inspired by Isibane se Afrika and the gumboot dancers that members of our group started to collect donations that would go towards building an Arts and Culture Centre in Khayelitsha. The space will be a place for the choir to have proper rehearsals and a sanctuary for both choir members and the larger community.


Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Christo Brand and his wife, Estelle Brand in Las Vegas. Christo was Nelson Mandela’s ex-prison guard at Robben Island and also became his friend. He first met Mandela in 1978 when he was 18. In his book, Doing Life with Mandela: My Prisoner, My Friend, Christo recounts the 12 years he spent with Mandela at Robben Island and how he went from being his prison guard to his confidant and collaborator. 

Lucille Sive with Christo and Estelle Brand


During this meeting, Estelle told us this wonderful story about her fruit cake and how much Mandela loved it.

Mandela had a very sweet tooth, so Christo had started buying chocolate, cookies (biscuits) and fruit cake for Mandela from the supermarket. One day he shared a piece of cake with Mandela and found it very dry. In an effort to satisfy Mandela’s sweet tooth, Christo smuggled some of his wife Estelle’s fruit cake into the prison for Mandela and he loved it. From that point on, It became Estelle’s famous cake. They made a plan that they could buy some regularly, because everything that came into the prison from outside had to have a receipt.

Christo put a paltry price on it, and marked it weighing a lot less than it actually weighed, as there was a maximum limit allowed for food stuff to be brought in, and this was a heavy cake. He brought his wife’s cake in regularly and it became a significance between him and Mandela. “Perhaps it represented a sharing of a tiny part of family life.” Even after Mandela was released, Estelle still baked it for him on his birthday and for Christmas.

Christo Brand meeting travel advisors at Karibu Restaurant


During our dinner at the beautiful Karibu Restaurant, set between the picturesque view of Table Mountain and the tranquil blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, we were fortunate to have Christo and Estelle join us once again. Christo spoke to our group and gave us insight into a different side of one of the world’s greatest leaders and the friendship that evolved during their time on Robben Island.

Estelle was also kind enough to share her famous fruit cake recipe, which you can also try baking.  

Zeitz Museum

On our last evening in Cape Town, we were thrilled to host a farewell reception at a special gala at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first-century art from Africa and its diaspora.

Sherwin Banda and Lucille Sive at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA)


With Table Mountain as the beautiful backdrop for our evening, we were greeted with music played by a band called Blackroots Marimba – an incredibly successful women’s driven marimba band in the Western Cape region.

Member of Blackroots Marimba


We were fortunate to have an exclusive evening to view the cutting-edge art exhibitions followed by a beautiful dinner where we had a 270-degree view of Cape Town. 

Travel advisor viewing a piece by Misheck Masamvu, Memoirs of Childhood


There were many other unforgettable moments throughout this trip, but this experience was truly the perfect way to end our time in South Africa.

Making Travel Matter By Supporting the Iraq Al-Amir Women's Cooperative in Jordan

November 23rd, 2018, by African Travel

Making Travel Matter By Supporting the Iraq Al-Amir Women's Cooperative in Jordan

Celebrating 10 years of working to #MakeTravelMatter with our not-for-profit partner The TreadRight Foundation, TreadRight Ambassador Céline Cousteau and a group of influential storytellers recently joined us on a journey of exploration and discovery in awe-inspiring Jordan, where we visited the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative outside of Amman.

Unemployment for women in Jordan is at around 33% in urban areas and even higher than that in rural areas. The cooperative was founded in 1993 with the goal of making the women in the region financially independent, as well as preserving local heritage.

The TreadRight Storytellers team’s goal was to gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative’s important work and future goals, as well as the struggles they might face as they look to achieve them and help share them with the world.

“As an organization and with the support of African Travel, Inc., we are working to make travel matter. The Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative is a perfect example of the kind of initiative that can harness the power of travel and tourism and use it to make real, sustainable positive changes in people’s lives,” says Shannon Guihan, Program Director of The TreadRight Foundation. “It was a privilege to be welcomed with such warmth and humour by the women who call the cooperative home. We heard story after story of lives transformed for the better through Iraq Al-Amir, and the relationships formed there. Now TTC has the honour of introducing our audiences to those stories through our new video and by taking guests to visit the cooperative in Jordan.”

Managed and run by local women, Iraq Al-Amir has provided training to more than 150 women from all villages of the Wadi Seer district of Jordan, teaching them to make beautiful pottery and paper so that they may have a space to come together and show visitors Jordanian hospitality. The handmade products are sold on site at the gift shop, as well as online.

The TreadRight Foundation helps to support the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative through its People pillar, which encourages the cultures, traditions, and arts of the communities African Travel visits, seeking to enable these communities to experience the true benefit of travel and tourism through economic empowerment. This is achieved through support of micro-enterprises and community-based travel and tourism initiatives that build a positive future for community members and their families.

TreadRight is working with the cooperative to upgrade the gift shop, as well as provide merchandising expertise, and allow the group to expand their food services, creating more income opportunities for the cooperative’s members.

“We’re working together to help the cooperative to become a viable business,” explains Guihan. “The idea of creating viable economic opportunities through travel and tourism is central to TreadRight’s People pillar. The Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative will be a testament to that.”

Following the TreadRight Storytellers experience the foundation produced its newest Storytellers video, showing the incredible beauty of Jordan and the inspiring work of the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative.

You can visit the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative on African Travel's Secrets of Jordan

CST #2071444-20