The Kayamandi township tour in Stellenbosch is led by passionate and stylish Thembi Koli, Kayamandi’s own diva tour guide. Thembi is the third generation growing up in Kayamandi and in her own words “breathes” Kayamandi and is involved in various projects in the community. Kayamandi means “pleasant or sweet home” in Xhosa.
On arrival, Thembi greeted and fetched us from across the road with an energy that was undeniable. Her first words to us after “hello” was, this is not just a tour; “it’s for change!!” She has been doing the Kayamandi Township Tour since 2004 and is passionate about her town and her heritage. After obtaining a diploma in tourism she went on to study at UCT.
While we strolled the streets past brick houses and in-between the shacks of Kayamandi she told us about the culture of the people and that there is no such thing as no space, there is always space for family and friends. There is no word like mine or it is ours, the people here share everything and privacy is a luxury. They have open hearts and so much joy. You can feel the energy and the rhythm on the streets. The people’s faces lit up when they saw us.
Our first stop was at the high school. It is free education and they have a feeding scheme providing three meals a day for the students. We also met with Team-4-tech which are computer experts from the USA that comes to Kayamandi on a two-week rotation base to teach the students computer skills. They also assist teachers to implement computer technology in their classrooms.
We stopped at the local creche with its colorful painted walls and little ones that entertained us with their singing and dancing. My heart fell apart and I fell in love with them all. They have so much love to give and gave it so freely to us “strangers”. It was such a humbling experience for me.
On our way to Mamma Swartbooi’s house we popped in at the home of jewellery-maker, Portia. Portia started out working at a beads shop in the Eikestad Mall in Stellenbosch. She proudly showed us her range of bracelets, beaded necklaces and earrings which she makes at home. She also runs a project for girls between 13 – 18 years where they make jewelry, she sell it and uses the money to buy them toiletries.
Our Final stop on the tour was at Mamma Swartbooi for a traditional Xhosa lunch. She is also part of the “homestay” initiative by accommodating people and cooking for them since 2005. We were greeted with open arms and with a big smile. Welcome-Welcome in my home! The table was set and ready for us to enjoy a wonderful meal. She brought out ice cold ginger beer that she prepared two days before hand, and it was the best ginger beer I have ever had. Luckily for us I got the recipe and will share it with you. The menu includes vetkoek, chakalaka, morog, pap, chicken and mxhaxaa (pumpkin and corn with cinnamon). Dessert was custard, jelly and fruit.
We had a wonderful visit at Mamma Swartbooi and it was the perfect ending to our tour. Like Thembi said it was not just a tour, it was for change! A day I will remember forever.
The tour is up to 3 hours which includes: a guided walk through Kayamandi, a visit to the school and the Grannys’ house, stopping at Jimmy Datini’s home where you can make your own clay bowl with Jimmy’s assistance, visiting Portias jewelry shop and doing a beer tasting at a local shebeen. The tour ends off at Mamma Swartbooi for a traditional lunch in her home.
The tours are from Monday to Saturday from 10h00 to 13h00. Soon you will also be able to book this tour on an executive package with HeliWine.com, for a never-t0-forget Flight, Food & Wine experience.