BY SYDNEY KAWADZA
The fairy tale of Lisben Sachiti and Annika Schimmel, preceded by a chance meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, could have been lost in the annals of history that remain untold.
However, the couple, Sachiti, the boy who grew up as a soccer star albeit from the streets of Unit A, Seke, Chitungwiza and Schimmel, an adventurous, Germany native from the small town of Delmenhost near Bremen, decided to write their own tale by taking Zimbabwe to the world.
Today, through that union, Europe is coming to, not only Southern Africa, but Zimbabwe.
While Zimbabwe-born Sachiti was in Johannesburg to seek the much vouched green pastures and Schimmel was in Africa for her studies, they struck a code that unlocked Zimbabwe to the world.
They both realised that while seeking the proverbial greener pastures in South Africa, the foliage was actually greener in Zimbabwe, and decided to share the splendour that the country’s tourism industry offers.
Today, the couple has brought families, groups of friends and several tourists from European countries to Zimbabwe and other parts of southern Africa.
Their packages have included all Zimbabwe’s main tourist attractions from the world acclaimed Victoria Falls, the picturesque Nyangani mountain, historic Lake Kariba, wildlife-teeming Gonarezhou and the iconic Great Zimbabwe monuments among others.
Sachiti and Schimmel also lead tours through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland.
In an interview after two successful tours with tourists from German and Austria, Sachiti said promoting tourism was inspired by taking a look at Zimbabwe from beyond the borders.
“It’s easy for anyone to criticise his or her country but when you take a critical look at what your own country makes one realise the uniqueness of certain areas that can be exploited to promote the economic development of the country,” he said.
Sachiti said they had opened up various tourist attractions that had never been explored before as people concentrated on major destinations.
“I can safely say we have opened up Zimbabwe and southern Africa to Europe, to the world, but we want to go further and explore new places that need to be shared with the world,” he said.
Schimmel has also become a home town hero in her Delmenhorst native home where a local newspaper painted a glowing picture of her work in Africa helping the young couple attract more customers from German and other parts of Europe.
After Annika, then a young tour guide based in South Africa, met Katharina and Holger Oetjen (who also grew up in Delmenhost), surprised her visitors when Holger Oetjen suspected early into the tour that Annika might originate from a town quite close to his origins.
“That was due to her very clear German accent,” Oetjen told the Delmenhorster Kreisblatt, the local newspaper in her native town.
“Annika mentioned she was from a town close to Bremen and that most probably group members would not know the exact small town.”
“It was a great surprise for us to have Annika as our guide,” Oetjen added.
“She is leading her tours in a special and awesome way” said Oetjen. “We would go with her again anytime”.
His wife Katharina added: “We learnt so much and we feel like we got to know and understand the real Africa.”
Schimmel studied Geography and English at the University of Vechta, and has got a lot of background knowledge as well as the ability to work as a translator, connecting local guides and German tourists.
“Annika really seems to be enjoying her job and on our tour, which lasted two weeks through Zimbabwe and Botswana, there was not one day when she did not wake up with a smile on her face and the ability to explain everything that we saw in a detailed and capturing way,” Oetjen said.
“Every country in southern Africa opens a different world,” Schimmel told the same publication. “Every tour is different. Different people, weather and different sightings on game drives.
She added “That’s what also makes it exciting and never boring. Going to Kruger National Park for the 50th time does not mean it will be the same and boring. That will never happen in the African bush or in this industry.”