September 4, 1996 (Redmond, WA) – Even today, more is known about the dark side of the moon than parts of Africa. But on September 5th, Mungo Park
online adventure magazine (http://mungopark.MSN.com/) will launch its first interactive expedition, allowing people around the world to follow a team of explorers as they attempt the first descent of the Tekeze River in Africa. To mark this occasion His Excellency, Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia will host in his first-ever live Internet chat.
One of the first prime ministers to make himself available to a world wide audience via the Internet, Mr. Zenawi will conduct the live chat at 12 noon EST, September 5 th . This will be an official send off for the Mungo Park expedition down the Tekeze, an area of Ethiopia that has been closed for more than twenty years due to revolution. The expedition will be headed by noted explorer, multimedia adventurer and Mungo Park’s editor-in-chief, Richard Bangs.
“We are very excited to introduce people to this area of our country that has been inaccessible for so long,”
said Berhane Gebre-Christos, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the United States.
“The Tekeze is one of nature’s last untouched areas. It holds remarkable beauty and mystery and we are pleased that Microsoft’s Mungo Park will bring this experience to so many people around the world.”
“The Internet has the ability to take us beyond geographical borders, to explore and discover new countries, peoples and cultures,”
said Richard Bangs.
“Mungo Park is proud to offer this live chat with the Prime Minister, which will allow anyone around the world to dialogue with the leader of the only African nation never to be colonized.”
The Tekeze circles around the flanks of the 15,000 ft Ras Dashen, the highest peak in Ethiopia, fourth highest in Africa. The river spins a labyrinthine course from its source near Lalibela, site of ancient rock-hewn churches, cutting through the jagged Simien Mountains, and spilling into the Sudan and the Nile. The upper 400 kms of the Tekeze has turned back explorers for centuries; there is no written record of anyone having negotiated its canyons. Myths abound. Some suggest the Ark of the Covenant is hidden in its basaltic vaults; others say deep within the gorge one may find the fabled King Solomon’s Mines. Solomon consorted with the Queen of Sheba, who once ruled this region, and sired a son, Menelik I, who became the first in the royal lineage that led to Emperor Haile Selassie.
During the Tekeze expedition, people throughout the world will be able to experience the adventure as it is broadcast live on the Internet. The expedition team will be carrying satellite communications systems, laptops, digital cameras, DAT recorders, and other high-tech equipment to bring a global audience the experience of turning corners never turned, and seeing and touching things never imagined. Satellite connections will convey journal entries, digital photographs, and interactive features, including chat sessions with travelers.
“First-hand accounts of high-profile expeditions have always been thrilling as they allow people to enjoy the adventures virtually, from the comfort of a home, class or office, through the portal of a computer screen,”
As companion content to the expedition, the September 5th sneak preview edition of Mungo Park will feature a series of in-depth, multimedia articles about Ethiopia, sometimes called the Tibet of Africa for its high elevations and stark natural beauty. News features include articles on the unique wildlife, the Ark of the Covenant (which some scholars believe is now located near the Tekeze), the Ethiopian roots of Rastafarianism, the historic hominid discoveries in the area, and more.
This issue will also feature a live chat with Rahel Fikre-Selassie, the great-granddaughter of Emperor Haile Selassie, Ethiopia’s last reigning monarch. In addition, Fikre-Selassie’s story of despair and sorrow is told through a poignant interview with writer Virginia Morell, exclusively written for Mungo Park. Other live chats planned for September include one with well-known singer Ziggy Marley and Dr. Don Johanson, discoverer of the hominid
Mungo Park delivers multimedia, interactive adventure travel reportage and high caliber writing to the Internet’s World Wide Web, providing exciting, provocative and timely stories, as well as potent sound, video and graphics of great expeditions and adventures around the globe. The departments outlined below will be fully active by January 1997.
Interactive Expeditions, inaugurating with this Tekeze descent, plans to retrace the steps of explorer Mungo Park, the magazine’s namesake, down the Niger river to Timbuktu, view the total solar eclipse in Siberia and more.
At the Park is the place to go to capture the community of Mungo Park including live chats, like that with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia on September 5 th and threaded conferencing allowing users to exchange comments and insights on topics of interest.
Wild Lit will feature contributions monthly from best-selling authors invited to take an adventure travel trip and pen an essay exclusively for Mungo Park. Tom Robbins, author of
“Even Cowgirls get the Blues,”
will kick off
this fall and showcase his trip to Tanzania, Africa. Other authors include Bill Broyles, screenwriter of the movie Apollo 13 and Tama Janowitz author of
“Slaves of New York.”
Drum will include regular columns from well-known journalists including Virginia Morell, author of Ancestral Passions about the Leakey family and Franz Lidz, staff writer for Sports Illustrated, as well as rich, timely editorial content from Mungo Park’s own editorial staff.
Mungo Park is about exploration — both exploring the world and participating in exploration people otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience. Mungo Park is named for the 18 th century Scottish explorer who charted the Niger River and disappeared while navigating its waters.
On September 5, users can log-on at (http://mungopark.MSN.com/) at 12 noon EST, to chat with the prime minister and prepare for the Tekeze adventure.
Today Mungo Park is a free publication accessible on the World Wide Web and MSN, The Microsoft Network (connect time charges apply). This fall it will be a featured part of Microsoft®
Expedia travel service. Expedia is an Internet-based travel service enabling leisure travelers to make airline, hotel and car bookings, secure credit card transactions online 24 hours a day, and browse destination information.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing everyday.
Note to the editor: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please check out the Microsoft web page at http://microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.
Microsoft, Expedia, MSN and Mungo Park are either registered trademarks or trademarks of the Microsoft Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.
To use Mungo Park, users need World Wide Web access with a 14.4kbs or higher modem recommended. Users can access Mungo Park through Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 or Netscape Navigator 2.0.
Contact: Gerri Kelly – Edelman Worldwide (312) 240-2741 [email protected]