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International Women’s Day: Woman Entrepreneur in a South African Township

As soon as I saw this challenge, my thoughts jumped to a vibrant, strong, inspiring woman that I met in Khayelitsha back in 2005.  When I chose these photos for this challenge I did not realise that this was going to be such a sad post.
Khayelitsha township is set on the Cape Flats in Cape Town.  It is home to over 1 million South Africans, some live in brick houses, but most live in shacks in what is known as the the “informal settlement”.  Most hope to make it to the luxury and safety of a brick house, but sadly the informal settlement areas are growing.  I say sadly, because on 1 January this year massive fires swept through Khayelitsha destroying hundreds of homes.  Several lives were lost.  There is some hope that this will drive the building of more brick homes, but progress is likely to be slow.  It would be appropriate, for “Khayelitsha” is  Xhosa for “New Home”.
On my visit to Khayelitsha I was impressed by the enthusiasm and determination of many of the people I met.  The woman who stands out in my mind, though, is Vicky Ntozini.  Vicky set up the first township Bed and Breakfast, the smallest hotel in South Africa, in her  metal and hardboard home.  She promoted her business tirelessly and drew in visitors from home and abroad.

Tripadvisor rating:
Ranked #1 of 2 Khayelitsha B&B and Inns

By bringing tourists to the area she attracted extra money to her neighbourhood (some of which went to set up or aid other businesses such as a sewing cooperative), she set a strong example of employment and entrepreneurialism and she inspired youngsters to go into the tourism industry.  She also spearheaded a project to build homes for 20 of her neighbours.  She was quite a force.

I am afraid the sad bit comes now: Vicky died in November 2012.  She was stabbed to death in her home, allegedly by a relative.  There is no doubt that this is a huge loss to the community.  I know that the example she has set will live on, and that is why I chose to continue with this story even after reading about Vicky’s untimely death at just 39.  I’ll end with the words of Eugene von Brandis,  Western Cape MP, who said “I ask the community of Khayelitsha to preserve the legacy of a great woman and to follow the example of empowerment she taught us.”


Posted in response to Ailsa’s travel challenge of the week.  To join and to see more entries go and visit Ailsa at Where’s my Backpack.

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