By Wandisile Sebezo: Kwano has a new lifestyle venue, it’s called Voorhuise – an Afrikaans word meaning ‘lounge’, but this is not your typical lounge.
Right now, it’s an outdoor chill spot and it operates only on Sundays. Plett Tourism’s Wandisile ‘Afrika’ Sebezo spoke to the man behind the concept, Bandile Ntukantu, to find out what inspired him to start his venture, and to learn a thing or two about the man himself.
Bandile is not your regular Joe, by his own admission, he is the ‘first professional soccer player’ to hail from Kwano. Born in Port Elizabeth, his mother is trained as a medical nurse, and in search of greener pastures, she came to Plett in the early ‘90s and quickly settled the family into their new home further down the Garden Route.
He contends he is not one to have regrets, but wishes he had siblings given that he is his mother’s only child. This perhaps explains a lot about Bandile. He comes across as shy, an attribute he himself doesn’t deny, but I am not willing to bet on it as I get a sense there is much more to this man.
Having received a scholarship to study at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), he attended the UWC Provincial Academy, but it went belly-up and became defunct, meaning that he subsequently lost the scholarship and was then forced to continue with his academic qualification at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
Through great perseverance as a soccer player and focused discipline as a student, this 31-year-old was not to be dismayed. He was eventually signed by FC Cape Town football club and had to juggle his burgeoning soccer career with his demanding academic life which he managed successfully.
With an entrepreneurial streak and the desire to succeed, it was only natural that Bandile decided to start his own business. At the age of 32, Bandile is passionate about his community and his drive to succeed.
“I want to contribute to our local economy, and by so doing I believe the more opportunities we present will result in reduced crime and the evolution of our community as a tourist friendly township,” he says. “Voorhuise can become a tourist attraction space that also seeks to create a platform for local emerging artists in Plettenberg Bay and its diverse communities.”
His comments are with the view held by many – that in fostering a township tourism route in Kwano, we need more sustainable tourist attractions and “Voorhuise can be one of those few we have”. Voorhuise is situated inside Kwano, adjacent to Kwanokuthula Primary School in an area known as Phase 2. “The site used to be a dairy farm back in the day, it’s an integral part of the history of not only Kwanokuthula but also of Plett as a whole,” says Bandile.
The project started operating earlier this year, and with the assisted vision of Plett Tourism and Chairman Peter Wallington, Bandile hopes for it to develop into a restaurant and entertainment centre, a fitness centre and even a radio station. The highlight of this lifestyle venue so far is the successful hosting of a Plett Tourism sponsored ‘Garden Route Heritage Celebration’ where the nationally acclaimed hip hop artist Nasty C wowed a packed crowd of more than 3000 during Heritage Weekend this past September.
Being a Kwano resident myself, Bandile’s concept is a fantastic initiative as Kwano did not have an outdoor chill spot, especially for Sundays. Most folks in this ‘neck of the woods’ are used to indoor chilling at places like Skhulu’z Lounge or N2 Lounge. Voorhuise fills the gap for those who’d rather see the stars while supping their cold ones.
When asked why the name “Voorhuise”, an Afrikaans word in a predominantly African suburb, Bandile told me the idea was to “encourage and accommodate the colored and white communities of the town to the township.” He also adds that the name “signifies the original dwellers” of Plett.
With projects like these booming up in Kwano and elsewhere, Plett’s township economy certainly has great potential, and with the township tourism route set there, the “One Plett Economy” envisioned by Plett Tourism will soon be a vision fulfilled. As a people of Plett, we really should say kudos to Bandile for letting the Plett feeling be even stronger.