Heart, soul and good breakfast: Putting our townships on the map

 
 
 

In a city renowned all over the world as a holiday destination, Nomalungelo Sotyingwe’s hospitality stands out. The former domestic worker has spent the past seven years showing tourists and Cape Town locals a side to the city they may otherwise overlook: the heart and soul of its townships. Her efforts to promote tourism in these places counter the misconceptions many have, and ensure a diversity of experiences in South African culture.

While working in a guest house in Greenpoint, Sotyingwe saw people come in from all over the world to experience local culture. But not many ventured further than the city centre and the coastline, missing out on a whole world that lay beyond the usual tourist haunts. It was then that she began to dream of bringing people to her home, in Khayelitsha, for an authentic South African stay. She opened Lungi’s Bed and Breakfast in 2010 by converting her township shack into a welcoming space for guests. But just four years into business, a fire started in the shack next door and spread to hers. Sotyingwe’s efforts were left in ruins. But in that moment of tragedy, her overriding emotion was relief. All she had lost were material possessions, not lives.

Sotyingwe refused to be discouraged. Her home had brought joy to complete strangers, and building a business had given her a sense of achievement and fulfilment. So she started again. Restoring the place bit by bit, she reopened a year later with an improved space and a renewed spirit. Since then, her venture has grown to include traditional isiXhosa meals, visits to local markets and township crafts. And it’s not just for her own gain – Sotyingwe involves her neighbours and nearby businesses. The effects of the group effort benefit all by encouraging community growth and showing visitors what the township is really about.