The Mpophomeni Tour

The Midlands MagazineJanuary 5, 2023

Join us as we go back in time and explore a small part of South Africa’s history here on our doorstep.

 

If you enjoyed reading our previous piece about the Love Howick initiative and leaving a legacy, we met Mongezi, our local barista who works at the Legacy Coffee Co. in Howick. We now had the privilege of meeting another student from the Love Howick Entrepreneurship School with an interesting story to tell. Nkosikhona Pius Ndlovu is the founder and managing director of Amangonyama Tour Operator Pty Ltd. – which offers guided tours through the Mpophomeni Township and various landmarks like the Mpophomeni Museum, Art Centre, Nokulunga Memorial Wall, Zenzeleni Community Centre, and the Tourism Gateway Centre.

 

Nkosikhona was born in the Karkloof area and grew up on a farm called Gamalethu. He attended Morton Estate Primary School, matriculated at Mconjwana High School, and later completed his National Diploma in Travel and Tourism Management at the Durban University of Technology. That’s not all, he also completed his Competent Certificate for Tourists Guide from Energy Guides, his First Aid Level One from Red Cross, a computer course from Phumelela Computer Training, and Telephone Reception training from the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, as well as receiving his Entrepreneurship Certificate from the Love Howick School.

 

Nkosikhona’s dream was to start his own business to create a positive impact in his community and contribute to its socio-economic wellbeing. With his passion for travel, love of meeting different people, learning about their cultures and heritage, and sharing his own cultural heritage with others, it was only fitting for Nkosikhona to start a tourism business.

However, it wasn’t an easy task, as he had limited resources. The Love Howick Entrepreneurship School taught him professional conduct and how to create and convert leads into clients. He officially started in 2018, but his tours were halted during the COVID pandemic but started gaining momentum in 2021. Nkosikhona’s clients range from school groups to private tours. My colleague and I had the pleasure of going on one of Nkosikhona’s tours. He showed us important landmarks that many of us do not get to see.

 

Our first stop was the Mpophomeni Tourism Centre, located to the left just as you drive into the entrance. Here, we met several members of the community. It is a central area that facilitates various events with a stage for performers and includes two Sangoma huts and a restaurant. We drove a few meters on the main road and arrived at our second stop, the Nokulunga Gumede Memorial Wall. The wall was named after the six-year-old girl who was accidentally driven over by a military vehicle (Casper) during a march held by Mpophomeni community members in commemoration of Sharpville Day, which is now Human Rights Day. The wall symbolises peace, and because Nokulunga was an innocent bystander, her memory serves as a reminder of reconciliation.

From here, through a few winding roads, we made it to our third stop, the Mpophomeni Eco-Museum. This museum is the old Montrose House, a stone brick settler’s home, on the land given to the Pretorius family as a grant in 1851. It was bought by Dr William Addison in 1855, who then built the house. In 1911, Charles Lund and E.S. Goodwill purchased the property, which is also where the Lund family lived. The family was forced to move when Mpophomeni was formed, which led Guy Lund, Charles Lund’s son, to commit suicide in the Montrose House.

 

Currently, the museum holds permanent and temporal exhibitions around the history before Mpophomeni became a township and during its establishment. You learn about the forced removal of communities and other exhibitions about the SARMCOL (South African Rubber Manufacturing Limited) industrial strike from the 1980s and other cultural events from South African history.

 

Outside the museum is a larger-than-life-size sculpture that Marc Jambers, a Belgium professor, made after his visit to Mpophomeni. It is a visual commemoration, and each part symbolises the history and struggles of the Mpophomeni township and its people. It takes several slow revolutions around this sculpture to fully absorb the heartfelt story it embodies.

 

After a few more winding roads, we came to our fourth stop, the house of a lovely lady, who equally holds a presence that demands respect, Mrs Mkhize. Her passion lies in beadwork, and she makes various jewellery items that she sells or hires out to community members for traditional events. The name of her initiative is Siyacela, which means “we are asking”. Interestingly, Mrs Mkhize was part of the group of communities that were forcefully removed and relocated to Mpophomeni during its establishment.

 

Our last stop took us through “Japan” and “Korea”, which were named after these countries when they hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2002. We visited Zano’s, a true hidden gem and well-kept restaurant where anyone can relax and order whatever they feel like, which would undoubtedly have to be a traditional meal consisting of Shisanyama and Phutu. There is an outside upstairs deck, an indoor seating area, and a play area for the kiddies.

As my colleague observed when we got into the car from Mrs Mkhize’s house, she said it’s a “world within a world”, and she was right; with Nkosikhona’s in-depth knowledge and friendly demeanor, I felt immersed and safe to explore the South African culture and heritage so alive here in Mpophomeni. With a well-run tour, we both learnt new information and were truly touched by only a small part of our country’s rich history and overflowing beauty.

 

Words by: Alicia du Plessis