Realising the need for real cultural experiences Andrew Anderson (of African Insight) and Patrick Pakhati (a registered Zulu Cultural Site Guide) joined forces to establish an authentic Zulu cultural experience, which exposes visitors to authentic contemporary rural Zulu life. Planning took place in 2004 and 2005 the first pilot groups were hosted.
It immediately became apparent that there was a need to develop a community volunteer programme to broaden the potential of the Home Stay from one of a pure cultural experience to one of integrated cultural emersion.
The vision of this project is to enrich the lives of visitors and community members, through creating opportunities for real people to people cultural exchange. Simultaneously upholding the objectives of Responsible Tourism by providing:
i. Sustainable social and economic benefits
ii. An incentive to cherish ones traditions and cultural uniqueness
iii. A solid foundation of trust and respect within the community which can be used as a foundation to promote other programmes aimed at social, environmental and biodiversity protection.
This project is made possible through the efforts of the following stakeholders:
A dynamic tour operator dedicated to Youth Tourism and the principles of responsible Tourism offering a unique service in the experiential tourism sector that looks at creative ways of:
• Fulfilling the need for economic sustainability,
• Yet at the same time it is a company that is actively engaged in social, economic and environmental upliftment.
This is achieved by exposing tourists to authentic wildlife, cultural and adventure experiences that go beyond merely creating awareness but also motivate visitors to acknowledge that no matter our cultural or economic background we can all make a difference.
This is followed through by actively looking for opportunities to channel visitor’s energy and financial benefits into appropriate projects, which are clearly defined and responsibly managed.
African Insight has been appointed as the exclusive ground-handling agent for visitors to Ekuthuleni and the Volunteer project. African Insight undertakes all marketing and ‘product packaging’.
Born, raised and settled with his wife and two children in the Umhlathuzana District Patrick is a registered Zulu Cultural Site Guide with 9 years experience in hosting international visitors at Simunye Zulu Lodge.
Patrick is well known and respected in the community where many of the members around Ekuthuleni are his relatives. The host at Ekuthuleni is an uncle.
Patrick is instrumental in the implementation of the plan on the ground and co-ordinating all local logistics in respect of the homestay and the cultural programme.
The Dludla family are the hosts at Ekuthuleni where they have provided an the right setting and cultural atmosphere it is through their initial support of the proposal that any success can be claimed and continue in the future.
The UK Wilderness Foundation
A project of this nature needs to be championed in the market place and the UK Wilderness Foundation was there from a very early stage in the process and has been responsible for the bulk of clients to the home stay to date.
A minimum 5-night stay is necessary to make the experience meaningful and should ideally include a Friday and Saturday night, to include the opportunity of attending a traditional ceremony that might be taking place close by. The experience is the combination of a cultural experience and volunteer work programme that run concurrently. The normal daily programme includes project work in the morning and early afternoon and then a cultural programme in the afternoon, however this may change to include something special.
The cultural programme is un-staged and to a large degree dictated by what is happening in the area at the time. A structured fallback itinerary is in place should nothing special or out of the ordinary be happening in the community. This includes a walk in the forest and surrounding indigenous grassland with the local Nyanga whilst he collects items to be used in traditional medicines. A visit to the local Sangoma allows visitors to experience one of the most powerful traditions of the Zulu Culture in an authentic situation.
The region is blessed with an abundance of mountain water springs; however through constant animal and human pressure the rivers and streams are unsafe for drinking. In conjunction with local community leadership African Insight has embarked on a project to supply clean, safe drinking water to the community at central accessible places.
Each water project consists of up to three independent phases associated with the overall vision to provide safe water. Each can be completed in the time allocated.
Phase 1: Consists of securing the integrity of the source of the spring, piping water to a central location, erecting a 5000L tank and a water standpipe.
Phase 2: Involves the erecting of a communal washing area to provide an alternative to washing in the river which is one of the contributing factors to the pollution of local rivers and streams.
Phase 3: Where appropriate and space allows the establishment of a communal vegetable garden making use of the grey water from the washing area.
Participants are required to raise funds (R600.00 / participant over and above the cost of the experience) to purchase the materials that will be used to complete the phase they will be involved in. Materials are delivered to the site in advance.
In keeping with the philosophy of a hand up being better than a handout each project starts with the establishment of a water committee who will co-ordinate local ‘sweat equity’ from within the community as well as take over responsibility of marinating the water system once handed over. A formal contract is signed between African insight and the water committee to manage the project and ongoing maintenance. Failure by the community to meet their commitments may result in the materials being recovered and given to another community.
For more information, please contact Oliver on firstname.lastname@example.org or