Community Development Proposal
Prepared for: The Mhinga Community, and those who may wish to participate.
Prepared by: Cedric de la Harpe
Stand 475 & 476 Matiyani Village, Malamulele Village,
05 November 2014
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT PLAN:
To obtain support from the Regional Municipal structures, Kruger National Park, Tourism Authorities, Department of Arts and Crafts, Birding Groups, Corporate Social Investors, and all Eco-Concerned initiatives throughout the country, for the development of a sustainable rural community on the periphery of the Kruger National Park.
It is our intention to develop our Village into a sustainable ‘cultural village’ to a higher ‘cultural exchange experience’ level than the tourism industry has achieved through the ‘imitation’ Cultural Villages in many parts of the country.
Our experience is that most of the successful ‘cultural villages’ around our country, are located in an area where you have main attractions that require the visitor to spend at least two nights, and the cultural village becomes one of the sites visits during the period.
Many private Safari Lodges make a profit by charging their visitor a fee to drive them through the Village across the road, exploiting the desire of the international visitor to experience our African Culture and the young children in the local creche. If the Safari Lodges does not have a sign warning their visitor not to cross the road into the Village due to the danger that lurks, the attitude towards the danger exists, making the drive-by visit an achievement.
Our Community objective is to develop our Matiyani Village community development into one where the visitor will;-
1: Want to drive by and take photographs, typical of Bo-Kaap, where hundreds of visitors walk the streets taking pictures, seldom exchanging a greeting with one of the locals, but close enough to buy food and drinks and any item that may attract attention.
Another of the top ten world sites is in Buenos Aires.
To a lesser extent, the Elim Village in the Cape, offers the drive-by visitor an opportunity to take pictures of South Africa’s Cape history and architecture, and do a bit of shopping.
2: Offer the visitors, both local and international, home-stay accommodation, from traditional ‘mat on the floor’ rondawel accommodation, to modern western homes, the ‘double bed’ comfort at a slightly higher rate, using both the Matiyani and Josepha Village communities.
3: Give the visitor magic hiking and birding activities, in the Village, while linked to the Kruger National Park’s Punda Maria and Pafuri Picnic sites, offering Birding and Kruger Park Drives using the Kruger Park vehicles and guides.
4: As the visitors increase, they will created the vehicle for informal traders to supply their food, drink and traditional curio needs, including the Sangoma business development into the visitor market.
With the support of the Kruger National Park, the Vhembe Region, and Thulamela Municipality, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Arts and Crafts, the Kruger National Park, plus Corporate Social investment, particularly in the Paint and Hardware Suppliers, we, the community will love to upgrade our properties and create traditional art work that will bring the world to our door-step, and the Punda Maria gate.
Our aim is to start with twenty road side homes, supporting the family to pay for the materials, and a little financial incentive to motivate them to participate. We envision an Art and Crafts initiative on an annual basis, ensuring that we upgrade the art work regularly.
During the past five years, we have gradually developed a small group of our community households to form the basis of out Community Development initiative, and we believe, that with a little support, we can turn this Village, into a Cultural Village, that the rest of the world, including South African’s will wish to visit, to enjoy, to learn from us, and to guide us as we move forward.
It is our goal to develop a sustainable model, that we can take into the rest of the country.
It is our goal to open the doors to agricultural and other entrepreneurial development groups who would like to participate in the development of this exciting initiative that can be taken into areas around the country.
We are in the process of turning the Matiyani Village into a Safari Lodge, the Matiyani Safari Lodge, where, all the community will be encouraged to participate in the development of their Village Community, through their own personal development.
Our aim is to open the doors to our South African and international visitors to access the magic of the Kruger National Park, without having to pre-book accommodation months in advance. We believe that this initiative will increase the numbers of visitors to the Kruger National Park, as it will involve a market not yet included in the range of visitors.
Since 2005, our aim through this development is to open the doors to South Africans to experience Cultural Exchange, while visiting the Kruger Park, while opening the door to South Africans to a 2 night trip to Kruger Park, with one Kruger Park Game Drive from as little as R 1600 per person sharing, from Soweto.
During the past six years, we have had a steady flow of international visitors through Villages in our country, and off this experience, we understand the power of opening the doors to the community home-owners to market themselves, and their homes to visitors to the Kruger Park. The day that a community member is able to close a deal on a visitor for accommodation, birding or hiking, that is the day that this entire village will see life differently.
This is not just a plan that we are putting on paper, my wife Nettie and I have established our home in Matiyani, and have slowly worked with a network of local neighbours. Using six families in Matiyani having stated with eight families in the Josepha Villages, we have hosted numerous international visitors, using home-stay accommodation to give the visitor the greatest ‘cultural exchange’ that they will ever experience, while enjoying the Big 5, just 4 kilometres down the road.
As Taste of Africa, commenced a program of home-stay accommodation in Rural Villages, initially to give our tourist a cultural exchange experience, using the Kruger Park and St. Lucia areas as the Tourist attractions, in additions to our people and their culture.
We have developed ten villages in the area from Pafuri to St Lucia, although it has the advantage of providing the visitor with 10 night options, but, as a development model, it is often difficult to see.
Having decided that we needed to select one village to develop, our Matiyani Village, although initially not our preferred target for development of a ‘One Stop’ cultural village, having assessed the advantages and disadvantages of the various areas, we identified the Matiyani territory as our prime development area. Matiyani is mainly undeveloped, with no competitive tourism products on offer, wonderful Birding and Hiking opportunities close to the Kruger park gate, and with the support of the Josepha Village community for accommodation, access to the Chief’s Royal Kraal in Mhinga, which brings the traditional Tribal Authority links into the ‘cultural exchange’ experience.
During the seven years of successful development, never a complaint with regard to the accommodation standards, the magic experience for the visitors has taken place, thanks to the close involvement that my wife Nettie and I have had in supplementing the lack of managerial and social skills.
During May 2014, we hosted a group of sixteen USA students and lecturers for fourteen nights in Townships, Villages and an Afrikaans hostel, and after ten nights, we are encouraged to free the students from our managerial and social skills involvement, allowing them to get closer to their host families. This takes place in our Matiyani Village, and although we survived a ‘few issues’, it does identify the need for us to develop these communities fully, in order for any community sustainable development to take place.
For the past six months, we have worked towards us removing ourselves as the essential link in the Community Development program, and our goal is to have ‘community groups’ operating independently by Easter 2015.
Initially our concept of cultural exchange, restricted our visitors to the community and direct interaction with their daily lives, this remained our typical thought process, till we start the ATTITUDE 101 ‘Key Skills’ module, the concept of ‘available resources’ is directly relevant to our community involvement, the more we bring the community together, the more resources we will find.
Off this basis of Key Skills development, we discover that our home that we started to build four years back, is not only part of a ‘traditional village’ that we love, but we soon discover, that ‘we live in a paradise’.
As we extended our six home-stay families into Community Resources, so, the elders took the lead to introduce me to ‘our Matiyani land’, opening my eyes to some sustainable agriculture that I did not know existed.
Beyond the people, the Matiyani Village allows us to hike through a ‘Birding Paradise’, and not too distant, we are able to hike along the ‘red line’ fence that separates our Matiyani paradise to from the Kruger National Park.
1: KEY SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
To date my wife Nettie and I have supplemented the lack of ‘Key-Skills’ of many of the home-stay participants around our activities.
In order for the development to become sustainable, it is essential that we transfer these skills to those participants involved in this initiative during the initial period.
Our skills development curriculum, sourced from the University of Missouri, part of our skills development in Soweto since 2008, consists of the following modules:
ATTITUDE, – Positive, Negative, Self-Respect and Goal Setting.
RESPONSIBILITY – One of the most essential skill needs in the Hospitality Industry.
COMMUNICATION:- Listening, Body Language, Conflict Resolution, Anger Management.
The developer of this Course, had established that the lack of these skills condemn the person to poverty as they will not get through the interview process.
Our six years of involvement in this area, gives us the insight into the fact that this initiative must be one of the first steps in the process to sustainability.
It will take six months to develop, and during this process, Nettie and I will need to supplement every aspect of this development initiative.
2: BIRDING GUIDING:
The Punda Maria camp and linked Pafuri Picnic site is one of the prime areas for Birding in our country. The Matiyani Village and surrounds have a fair share of the birds that you will find at Pafuri. Although only a ‘learner birder’, I find our community offers the birder a walking experience that brings them close to a large number of birds in an area that makes me feel I am in ‘paradise’, link this experience to the Kruger Park just a few kilometres away, and we have one of the most exciting ‘birding experiences’ in the country.
Our community has started a Birding Club, and presently training twelve enthusiastic Birding Guide students. One of our team, Frank Mabaso is presently training this group, and as he trains them, so I am being trained to supplement Frank who is not always available.
The ‘Key Social Skills’ development is underpinning all this development, in order to prepare them for the visitor.
Subject to the advice and guidance of Birdlife South Africa, other Birding Organisations, and Birding Clubs, we envisage developing along the following lines.
a: Develop a Birding list by the contributing visitors to the area.
b: Use our learner birding guides to access the prime birding areas, and help carry picnic supplies, giving them an opportunity to learn from the experienced ‘birders’.
c: We encourage Birders to make arrangements to host one of the learner birding guides on a drive through to the Pafuri picnic site, giving the learner an opportunity to develop skills on the Pafuri site, and possibly even view one of the ‘Big 5’. This will give both the Birders and the learners great satisfaction.
d: On completion of the Birding Guides training, they will operate as guides in both the Matiyani Village and the Kruger National Park, where Punda Maria visitors will be able to collect and drop the guides at the Gate.
3: HOME-STAY ACCOMMODATION:
We have accommodated groups in home-stay accommodation since 2008. Once we learnt to market and prepare the visitor, we have not yet had any complaints about the ‘lack of facilities’.
We have home-stay families in both the Josepha and Matiyani Villages, outside Punda Maria gate, in three Kwa-Zulu Natal Villages, a village outside Numbi gate, two villages outside Orpen Gate, the Rebecca Matibe family between Pafuri and Thoyoandou, with twenty families in Soweto, and accommodation for twenty in the Alexandra Township.
Our track record speaks for itself.
As Taste of Africa, we have always treated our communities as equal participants, thus marketing our home-stay accommodation and facilities, as possibly consisting of sleeping on mat or foam on the floor, and a pit toilet. When we have a group of sixteen visitors, many will sleep on a bed, and others on the floor. This difference in accommodation and families often generates the energy in the group as they all have something different.
As we look at moving our target market to South Africans and the ‘Birding Community’, so we have separated our marketing approach to offering from the traditional floor sleeping, to the modern bed and home option. Obviously this will come at a ‘few more rand’ for those who wish to sleep on the bed. As we prepare for the local visitor, so we have included the modern western styled building into our system, opening doors to a greater number of participants.
In general when we cater for groups, we include three meals per day as shopping is limited, but our initiative now allows the local visitor an option of providing their own meals.
Off the basis of the Birding Guides, we will extend our home-stay network into those families where we are developing Key Skills.
4: Sangoma, traditional dancing, traditional foods, sport, taverns.
Culture is often misunderstood, as we are inclined to provide the Sangoma and traditional dancing as what we believe the visitor would like to experience.
Our most powerful experience is when the dancing takes place naturally, not organised. Typically the music, the men drinking beer, a few woman start dancing, then the traditional wear is brought out, and the magic begins.
Culture is how we ’cultivate our children’, how we cook, where we get our food from, our sustainable farming life, what is different about our way of life.
As you move through the village towards the Birding Paradise, you will have an opportunity to interact with the sustainable farmer, and many other aspects.
The half-day hike is magic, the community the birds, and the anticipation during the walk along the Kruger Park fence. Anticipation that you may see an elephant, or even signs of a poacher, you may find snares, how do you handle this?
Eco-development needs to take place trough integrating our thought process and development into these communities, while no development is taking place for these communities, telling them what ‘not to do’ can’t be heard. The area has experienced incidents of Rhino Poaching, and as we involve the entire community in development, so we will close the doors to Rhino Poaching through our fences.
By introducing visitors into these communities you will see the children develop off the visitor, you will see the visitor develop off the community.
HOW DO WE MARKET THIS:
We already have a flow of visitors into the Kruger Park Punda Maria camp, thanks to the magic birding at the Pafuri picnic site.
1: COMMUNITY MARKETING OF MATIYANI:
We are in the process of having signs made that they ladies and youth, in traditional dress, maybe a bit of drumming and dancing, will alert the passers-by to their products.
The visitor will stop to take a photograph, they will not be able to resist this opportunity, and there pictures will transmit the availability around the world, and South Africa.
2: MARKETING THE PUNDA MARIA GATE;
If we had financial support to fund twenty households down the access road to the gate, these photographs will transmit around the world, we should sponsor and annual competition every November, off this, small traders and food supplies will follow.
3: TOURISM, KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRUCTURES:
The acceptance by these structures for the need to develop the communities that are neighbours to the formal tourism sector, adding these communities to their linked marketing, will not only advertise our initiative, but give the systems blessing to our community being safe enough to visit.
Where the system has policies of ‘formal standards’ a note with regard to the visitor accepting the informal standards will suffice and attract the market that we aim to host.
SUMMARY OF ‘IMPORTANCE’ THAT WE SUCCEED
During the past ten years, we have had an increased flow of children leaving the rural areas for family members in the Urban areas, for the following reasons;
a: The perception of ‘better education’ in the Urban areas, if we see what happens in the Township vs Suburban schools, these perceptions are not far wrong.
b: Access to University enrolment.
c: Access to Employment, accepting that there is no employment opportunities in the Village, and the children no longer have an interest in sustainable farming.
This flow of children into the Urban areas, contributed towards the Social problems as pressure is put on the family communities to discipline children that are often distant relatives.
Many of our successful business people today have their heritage in a family that operated a spaza-shop, a tavern, a backyard mechanic,a sustainable farming operation, and informal trader, this is where an entrepreneur is developed, this lack of development is exacerbated by the impact of HIV/Aides in our country.
As a country, we need to ensure we reverse the deterioration.
We celebrate the potential of creating employment for forty community members, but our target should be to create forty entrepreneurs if we wish to develop the youth. The first home owner who is able to sell a home-stay night, and meals, will not only motivate the rest of the neighbours to achieve, but their children in the have doors to becoming an entrepreneur opened to them and their friends.
This is a sustainable development initiative that will develop in excess of forty entrepreneurs off which the community can develop, at minimal financial cost, and hard work by the community.
Matiyani Village community development
Phase 1 is required to set the entire development initiative in motion, allowing self-marketing to take place through the passing traffic.
Mtiyani Village is one of the typically undeveloped communities, giving it some of its rural and traditional magic.
Description: Quantity: Unit Price: Cost:
Art & Decor /maint. annual: 20 R 2 000 R 40 000
Annual Prize for homeowner,
R 5000, R 3000, R 2000 1 R 10 000 R 10 000
Birding Guide Books & Equip’t: 13 R 3 000 R 39 000
Bird Guiding Training: 13 R 2 000 R 26 000
Bird Guiding Uniform 13 R 1 000 R 13 000
Key-Skills Development 40 R 1 5 000 R 60 000
Admin Costs 6 R 2000 R 12 000
TOTAL: R 200 000
The Art & Decor investment requires an annual investment, motivating the community, while introducing new ideas and colours every year.
Once Phase 1 is in position, we will be able to develop our Village as a very successful cultural village, that will form the basis of a typical Midlands Meander Route in the Limpopo Area.
This R 200 000 investment, going directly into the community, will result in the spread into the rest of the community through interaction and the energy that will be achieved.
A large portion of the investment is possible through the provision of materials and equipment.
My wife Nettie and I have been in the area for six years, and our investment in the community is permanent.
Cedric de la Harpe