The community of Mpophomeni had identified an opportunity for economic development, which would benefit the entire community. Unemployment in the township alone was standing at 82% at that stage. The global growth of special interest tourism had been reflected in the experience of the community when hosting guests from Germany, Norway and Belgium who stayed with the township families in preference to hotels. Such was the satisfaction of these guests that the community realized that there was considerable further development potential in B&B and cultural township tours. Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience was conceived and formed in 1998.
Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience (ZMTE) is an award winning, a not for profit organization drawing its members from broad segments of the Mpophomeni Township and surrounding rural areas. It has a steady growing number of international and local tourists. It offers visitors a great opportunity to experience the authentic Zulu culture and explore unspoiled township life. It is the vision of ZMTE to be the best locally and internationally recognized, sustainable and growing, independent cultural tourism organization providing top class branded Township and Zulu Cultural experiences from value based partnerships with all our stakeholders; including current members, prospective members as well as other tourism organizations and government structures. Ultimately ZMTE’s success is measured by the success of the community we serve. Members of ZMTE come from a variety of women owned and managed Crafts Co-operatives, privately owned B&B operators as well as involving youth, traditional leadership structures, story tellers, traditional healers, crafters, artists, and guides.
Township B&B Homestays:
We began with one family house that has been hosting visitors during the late 1990's and now, we have six fully operating bed and breakfast establishments that are privately owned by different families. The rooms they offer ranges from one to four per family. They are spread all over the sections of Mpophomeni to ensure inclusivity. Since the beginning these families have been very welcoming and open to take the risk of hosting different people from different countries.
Township and rural tours:
We have successfully introduced township and rural tours to complement the B&B's project so that tourists can stay longer. The tours give visitors a glimpse of the rich history of this community. Tours are conducted by trained site guides and include visits to Sangomas where they consult with the ancestors. A visit to the Sangoma will also include explanations of different herbs that are used as medicines for curing the sick and you may even learn more about yourself and what your future holds.
We encourage and motivate each other especially those gifted and talented in art and craft through capacity building programmes to improve their skills and be more creative in terms of producing unique craftwork for the area.
Visitors are also able to relax in the popular shebeens where you can share a drink and exchange news, laughter with the locals while enjoying the lively music or playing a game of pool.
Traditional African Church:
Visitis to the Shembe Nazareth Baptist Church where visitors hear how Zulus practice their rituals. The Church was established in 1910 by Prophet Isaiah Shembe.
ZMTE is also engaged in environmental issues aimed at capacitating the community to manage their biodiversity resources. ZMTE is currently piloting a community-driven wetland conservation project (known as the Employment Creation and Biodiversity Management Project sponsored directly by National Development Agency, Department of Water Affairs, DANIDA, EKZN Wildlife and Destination Travel and indirectly by uMngeni Municipality and others) with significant potential for eco-tourism development in the Mpophomeni Township of KwaZulu-Natal.
At present ZMTE is rolling out community environmental programmes such as a greening programme that is aimed at encouraging community to adopt sections of the township to plant trees, have small vegetable gardens, and keep their yards clean. In addition they are arranging clean-up campaigns along the wetland in partnership with Midlands Meander Eco-schools.
- Star of Afrkaitourism Award by Engen Petroleum Ltd (2001);
- Two prestigious awards: Best Community Based Tourism Project 2004 and Most Innovative Tourism Project 2008;
- Runner up Community Builder of the Year 2008; and
- Imvelo Awards (Best Practice - Economic Impact in 2009.