Meet the changemakers: Ayanda Cuba and Buntu Matole from ABCD Travel

The young entrepreneurs started ABCD as a means of tackling community issues in Cape Town’s informal settlement of Khayelitsha through immersive running and cycling township tours.

By Annie Brookstone
Published 17 Aug 2019, 15:00 BST, Updated 23 Jul 2021, 11:53 BST
Ayanda Cuba and Buntu Matole
Ayanda Cuba and Buntu Matole

How do your tours at ABCD Travel challenge misconceptions about township life?
We lift the veil. What we — and our peers — are trying to do is change the narrative of how townships are perceived and how our stories are told. The media portrays townships as these impoverished spaces filled with shacks, but we show how developed things really are and how warm and welcoming the community is. Historically, townships were created to segregate people — we showcase them as progressive spaces where people come together, because there’s a lot to do, see and learn.

Your tours are all about inclusivity, collaboration and sustainable growth. How is this realised?
We felt that, in order for us to market Khayelitsha, our tours had to be inclusive, so everyone could get a taste of what the community’s all about. We started with a running experience, but people who don’t run, for whatever reason, were left out. So we ventured into cycling. We invested in a tandem bike and we’re looking to get a sidecar so disabled people can join the tour too.

We want to create a space where anyone can join us, but this isn’t just about us, it’s about the broader community too. That’s where the collaboration came in. We partnered with other people doing interesting things in our communities and through collaboration we’ve been able to see the benefits not just for us but for our community as whole.

How has tourism changed Khayelitsha?
In the last four years, we’ve seen a lot of creative tourism-linked businesses emerging, from coffee shops and restaurants to museums. It’s pushing people to think about what else we can activate in our spaces. Khayelitsha has its own narrative that needs to be. The flipside is that us young people are dreaming beyond the status quo and pushing for new concepts to market our community differently.

Are these guided tours?
We don’t think of ourselves as guides but as hosts, and of tourists as guests. People feel the need to connect and positively impact our spaces because they understand our history based on the way we share it. Some people don’t want to leave — we’ve partied with guys until 5am, we’ve cycled with people that ended up donating to local causes and have built strong relationships with lots of people we’ve met. This is not a zoo, it’s a community — and if you’re a guest in a community, you have to partake and do so without prejudice.

How can travellers become more socially aware?
Our biggest enemies are our minds. For anyone going into any area, go as if you’re a child — with an open mind, a willingness to learn and a desire to engage, throw yourself in the deep end and embrace every moment.

Published in the Earth Collection, distributed with the September 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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