Down in Africa
The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless longing for some solitary company;
I know that I must do what’s right,
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like olympus above the Serengeti.
It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you,
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.
I bless the rains down in Africa.
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had…
It all started with a notecard from Eshi Otawara. What Neko could resist a dress called The Bengal — particularly one that “reflects the power of the royal White Tiger?” Not this Neko.
At first I thought I could turn my purchase into a “Dress Me Up” response, kind of an open interpretation based on Elora’s suggestion of a Neko Princess. Or maybe I could use it to address a topic that’s come up on SL Universe forums a time or two, about Nekos not being limited to a “grunge” fashion statement.
But a dress this spectacular simply doesn’t need an excuse. What I did need however was an appropriate place to explore… perhaps a gently rolling African savannah teaming with wildlife? (In a formal gown? Well yes, it’s a Tiger* gown, after all…).
Bless the Rains Down in (Virtual) Africa
Thankfully my Tiger gown was far too beautiful to frighten the local denizens, so I was able to spend my evening wandering peacefully among the uniquely commissioned Acacia trees, buffalo grass, and native animals in a wonderful place called Virtual Africa, watching the mist rise from a watering hole under the last rays of the setting sun.
There’s more to do here than take great photos however. Start with a balloon ride, or purchase an exclusive virtual African Bike to tour the islands (you can even purchase a vendor to sell these bikes as a fundraising effort). Fall asleep to the sounds of wildlife when you rent a campsite, or you can adopt your very own Meerkat to take back home (it’s been programmed to be a pet for its adoptive owner).
Best of all, take the time to learn more about who and what is behind this lovely place: Virtual Africa represents the largest project ever created by UTHANGO, a registered NGO (similar to a not-for-profit organization) based in Cape Town, South Africa. As the first such organization from Africa with a virtual worlds strategy, they believe that information poverty is every bit as valid as real world poverty.
“We can only be in Second Life with integrity if we find specific ways to harness the power of virtual worlds for Africa and our real world clients,” says Co-Founder Alanagh Recreant (SL name).
Their goal with Virtual Africa is to “strengthen the network of African communities, provide a gateway and collaboration space for Africans inside virtual worlds, and promote African content into/from Second Life, all while giving residents of SL a taste of the complexities and beauty of Africa.”
I Know That I Must Do What’s Right...
UTHANGO Social Investments is a South African registered non-governmental and non-profit organization that talks to communities, assesses their needs, helps them identify their dreams, gathers resources, and assist these communities in making their dreams come true. In 2007, UTHANGO was contracted by international aid agencies and local companies such as DANIDA (Denmark) to facilitate research and development in Africa. Their projects have also been recognised by MIT, Harvard University and University of Stellenbosch. They are always on the lookout for volunteers and donations.
That pretty much sums up how I feel about this dress. Whether walking around Virtual Africa, or attending Codie’s 2nd Rez Day Party, Eshi Otawara’s lovely dress accomplished both with equal panache… proving yet again that Nekos don’t always have to wear grungy clothing and legwarmers.
Along with the “Cheetah” and “Tiger” dresses, the “Bengal” is one of three in Eshi’s evening collection. With multiple leg prim attachments, it can be worn long or short, and comes with coordinating earrings and a necklace.
*A Note about Tigers in Africa
Thanks to reader Terry Toland for bringing this up: While it’s true that there are no native Tigers in Africa (nor have there ever been), the Bengal Tiger’s habitat in India has been so severely depleted, that efforts are currently underway to introduce them into South Africa, thanks to an organization called Tiger Moon Sanctuary.
As of this writing, Bengal Tigers have been introduced into the northern area of the Karoo region of South Africa (an area that was severely damaged by overgrazing for over two hundred years). Based on the most recent information I could find (and had I been able to find more, this story would have had a very different focus), these Tigers are apparently thriving — amidst all sorts of differing human opinions of course — in hopes of saving the species from extinction.
Read More About Tigers in Africa Here:
Visit Virtual Africa in Second Life:
Read more about Virtual Africa on their blog:
Visit UTHANGO’s website:
View Eshi’s Black-Striped Bengal Dress Here:
View Eshi’s Cheetah Dress Here:
“Africa” Lyrics (Paich/J. Porcaro) copyright 1982 by Toto
© Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko in Second Life – 2009