Entrepeneur spreads infectious optimism to tourists and Khayelitsha learners

Nokubonga Yawa
Mzukisi Lembeni is not only making himself for taking tourists on township tours. He also takes Khayelitsha learners on tours to places they would not normally go to, like the Two Oceans Aquarium.

Lembeni, who is 31, is originally from the Eastern Cape. He was born in Lady Frère then moved to East London. Like so many families in the Eastern Cape looking for better opportunities, his moved to Cape Town. He spent his early age in Khayelitsha, attending Nomsa Maphongwane Primary and Uxololo High schools. He also did higher education at Cape Town College and finished a degree at UNISA.

Before starting his own business, Lembeni volunteered at the aquarium. He also worked for Cape Town Tourism. With this experience he decided to start his own business. "This is not just any business. As someone who grew up in this township, attending the schools here, I know how it feels to learn without textbooks and how it feels to be told about something you can’t feel or see,” he says.

Lembeni started Imizamo Yethu Tours. He takes hundreds of tourist from all over the world to show them Cape Town's townships. When he started he did most of his tours in Hout Bay but decided to move them mainly to Khayelitsha. Lembeni's website states, "He has a great passion for community development in Khayelitsha. He is always wearing a smile and exuding infectious optimism." And spending a few minutes with him shows that this is not just marketing rhetoric. He is friendly and funny. His entertainment skills are boundless: he is also a magician.

Besides taking tourists around, during the school year he takes learners on tours. "Our people don’t have money we can’t run away from that. When I take learners for a tour I charge them R200. This covers transport, food and a boat ride," he explains.

"Tourists from outside Africa get shocked with the chicken feet’s, smiley’s (Sheep heads), sour milk and other things that we eat. To them it’s really shocking but what I like about them is that they like experiencing things whereever we go,” Lembeni says. He says many tourists come back or send him emails asking how they can help people in need. Lembeni intends to eventually expand his business beyond Khayelitsha. Currently he is busy writing a book about Cape Town townships and his life. Wisely he says, "Education is the key of life. Without education, life is not easy at all. This is the most important thing to do in life. Without it you ain't gonna make it. Lastly be yourself and be responsible for your actions."

Comments

Submitted by Keith on

fantastic story, successes can be found but not often reported in South Africa. This is why GroundUp is finding a niche. Hope you continue to provide all with these not so obvious story lines.

Submitted by Mzukisi Lembeni on

Thank you very much for your support. With GOD I can do this, my family and my community.

Thank you - thank you - thank you

Submitted by Thabisile Mkhize on

Fantastic work my brother, keep up with the it, keep on putting SA in a good "eye"

Submitted by Nolitha Nyoka on

Hi
i just want to say keep up with the good work, im interested to meet or communicate with Im the executive member of KDF Tourism is my portfolio I want you to open my mind more about my thinking about Tourim in Khayelitsha. My number is 0735409525: