COFFEE SHACK'S INVOLVEMENT WITH OUR DEVELOPING COMMUNITY
We're a small but important part of the local scene, and we believe in contributing to the community's wellbeing. The Tshezi Community Trust owns 30% of the business, and we're a source of income for many people in the area - employees & their families, as well as entertainers, fishermen, farmers and beneficiaries of social initiatives such as scholarships and the Pato School project.
The Wild Coast is an ecologically sensitive area, and has been declared a biosphere. We comply with the stringent environmental and local planning laws, and strive to maintain a good working relationship with the local environmental agency.
It is also culturally sensitive, and the influx of a relatively large number of foreign visitors - and thus money - to an area known for its reliance on subsistence agriculture has bought with it changes. These are mostly beneficial, but there are negatives, such as the local children's tendency to beg for sweets and money from visitors. We try to minimise these negative factors through educating our guests about surrounding conditions, and by contributing in a meaningful way to the kids' education and their families' incomes, as well as sharing the ownership and profits of the hostel with the community as a whole.
The Transkei, home to the Xhosa people, is the only part of the country still governed by tribal authorities, and most of the region's inhabitants maintain a traditional lifestyle. Many visitors have commented that this feels like the "Real Africa" as they imagined it would be - huts dot the hillsides, personal wealth is still measured primarily by the number of cows a man owns, and youngsters undergoing ritual initiation into manhood are often seen.
The Xhosa people live in the traditional way, with ancient tribal systems still intact. The Transkei is the only place in South Africa where a tribal system of authority is still in place.The people live in thatched mud-brick huts peppered across the hills, without running water or electricity, and subsist through growing mainly maize.
Our cultural tours are the best way to really see how the Xhosa people live. A local guide takes you to his village in the hills, where you ca experience the day-to-day living of his people. You visit a herb doctor, witch doctor (sangoma) and may get the chance to talk to an abaKwetha (young boys going through their coming of age ceremony). Enjoy a traditional lunch and some home brew in a local shebeeen (unlicensed bar).
The Xhosa people love to sing, and a wide range of acapella and gospel choirs give regular performances at Coffee Shack. Among the groups who sing are the Phandalwazi community choir, the Peace Brothers, Black Mambazo, the Amatombazana and the Bomvana Mamas.
We have been invited by our Headman, Jongikaya, to attend a traditional dinner, song and dance every Friday evening. This is a highlight of many peoples' stay here, as visitors are encouraged to join in the dancing. The meal is washed down with umquomboti (traditional African beer).
Coffee Shack is very active in the local community. Our former proprietor, the late Deryck Lang, has been responsible for the building of many schools and clinics in our immediate area.
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