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SMALL TOUR OPERATOR BRINGS CATO MANOR’S HISTORY TO LIFE FOR INTERNATIONAL TOURISTS

Exploring KwaZulu-Natal and experiencing its diverse culture and history first hand is how tour operator and entrepreneur Gcinokuhle Kenneth Dube sums up his business Loxtion Tours.

Born out of the rich tapestry of experiences and struggles that define rapidly growing township tourism, his business was launched in 2017 both to satisfy his passion for tourism and to provide a fascinating peek into the authentic history of KZN.

After dipping his toes into the far bigger sea of worldwide travel at the Africa Travel Indaba for two years running, Dube headed for Cape Town. During his first visit to the Mother City, he accompanied Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (TKZN) to World Tourism Market Africa, an event that is attended by leading international travel trade professionals.

He admits that he discovered a totally different market as he encountered businesses that knew very little about his home province and enjoyed building relationships that would stand him in good stead both as a service provider and an ambassador for KZN.

“At least 90% of those I spoke to knew the Cape Town market but nothing about what KZN offers. I decided it was time to broaden my horizons. I was no longer limited to selling a single experience but found myself speaking on behalf of the whole province,” he says.

Introducing Cato Manor to the World

Dube was born and raised in Cato Manor, a segment of modern-day Durban with a turbulent history filled with forced removals, riots and even assassinations. He describes it as Durban’s version of District Six in Cape Town and Sophiatown in Gauteng.

“Our focus is on Umkhumbane where you get to experience both the Zulu and Indian cultures. We started out offering tours on the west side of Durban, providing a township experience that is rich in culture and heritage,” he explains.

As a youngster growing up in Cato Manor, Dube admits that he was fascinated by radio and wished to pursue a career in media. However, towards the end of his school years, he switched to tourism. The tourism business that resulted combines his story telling talents and business acumen.

“I started with nothing, but I quickly discovered that the tourism industry is interlinked. I realised that, to grow, I really need to rely on other role players who have been there before me and provide car hire, shuttle services and accommodation,” he observes.

He started out by linking his business with the local tourism association and becoming an accredited tour guide. Then he applied for inclusion on both the Durban and provincial tourism supplier data bases. Although he started out conducting educational tours for schools and for conference delegates, he now not only works for large tourism service providers like MSC Cruises but books tours directly with a host of travel agencies.

In addition to Cato Manor, he now also provides fun tours to the likes of uShaka Marine World, Phezulu Safari Park, Tala Game Reserve or Giba Gorge should visitors request require these.

Exploring Cato Manor

Dube’s signature day long tour of Cato Manor, just 7km from Durban’s city centre, begins at the iconic uMkhumbane Cultural and Heritage Museum which sits alongside the crypt of Queen Thomozile Jezangani kaNdwandwe, mother to the late King Goodwill Zwelithini.

This, explains Dube, charts the history of the area and provides the perfect background for visitors.

Cato Manor was named after Durban’s first Mayor in 1914 who, owned the and subdivided his land which he sold to prominent Indian residents. However, things did not according to plan. Over the next 50 years the area filled with informal settlers seeking work as industrialisation boomed in Durban, leading to friction between settlers and authorities and ultimately forced removals

“When I tell the story of Cato Manor, I don’t make it political but tell it in such a way that a tourist would enjoy,” Dube says.

The next stop-off is Heroes Acre, a cemetery that is the resting place of slain professional footballer and Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa as well as anti-apartheid journalist Nat Nakasa and internationally acclaimed playwright, composer, director and singer Dr Mbongeni Ngema.

Then it is on to one of the oldest Catholic Churches in Durban, which Dube says played an important role during the struggle years, and a visit to a local community leader who prepares Zulu maidens for the annual Reed Dance.

A stop off at the Pavilion, the province’s second largest regional mall, is in stark contrast to what follows – a visit to a local healer who provides insight into traditional medicine and a sangoma who is happy to throw bones for tourists. “There are amazing stories of how White, Indian, Coloured, Black tourists have been helped,” Dube notes.

Visits to Indian heritage sites in Cato Manor follow with tourists not only visiting peaceful temples but introduced to beautiful religious artefacts and the Indian lifestyle.

“When the tour is over, we go to a place called Mojo’s Carwash where you get to taste both Indian food and shisanyama, braaied meat for which Durban is famous. You not only get to learn about the history of South Africa and what happened in Cato Manor, but you get to taste the food and dance with the locals. It’s a beautiful tour that anyone would want to experience,” he says.

Loxtion Tours will be among many SMME’s that will be punting their businesses to local and international buyers at Africa’s Travel Indaba 2024 to be hosted at the Durban ICC from 14 to 16 May 2024

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