Pop­u­lar venue at­tracts tourists and lo­cals

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Siya Miti

AN EASTERN CAPE man does not let his dis­abil­ity de­fine him; he plays to his peo­ple-lov­ing per­son­al­ity and in­fuses some kasi spirit.

Mthombo Nkula has built a pop­u­lar tourist at­trac­tion and hos­pi­tal­ity venue from the ground up, de­spite liv­ing with a dis­abil­ity.

The hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try was a nat­u­ral fit for the bub­bly 50-year-old who loves host­ing peo­ple.

“I am a peo­ple’s per­son, so I would let peo­ple come and chill at my house on week­ends. Peo­ple knew I wasn’t sell­ing al­co­hol, but they would buy their own and hang out at my place. The ex­pe­ri­ence en­cour­aged me to re­alise my dreams and I ex­tended my house to in­cor­po­rate a kasi restau­rant.” Mthombo’s Palace and Re­stro Lounge, which Nkula launched on his 48th birth­day on 24 Oc­to­ber 2015, has a restau­rant that of­fers African cui­sine and a mini-butch­ery that sup­ports the grow­ing ‘shisa nyama’ cul­ture of ‘buy and braai’.

Nkula con­fessed that busi­ness was slow at first and he some­times had to give food away. But he pressed on un­til in 2016, MTV-Base gave his busi­ness the boost it needed. “MTV-Base needed a tourist at­trac­tion venue in Mdantsane to host an event and they chose my place. It gave my busi­ness so much good pub­lic­ity. Ukhozi FM also came to host an event here and my busi­ness boomed from there,” said Nkula. Now Mthombo’s Palace has grown into a thriv­ing busi­ness fre­quented by lo­cals as an af­ter-party venue and tourists look­ing for a town­ship ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I was nom­i­nated for Tourism SA’s Lilizela Awards (en­trepreneur­ship cat­e­gory) and came up tops in the prov­ince and third na­tion­ally,” said Nkula.

“I am con­stantly im­prov­ing my place and the tourism de­part­ment of the Eastern Cape [De­part­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs and Tourism] sup­ports me by bring­ing tourists to come and eat here when there are events. I am blessed big time,” said Nkula.

“I started with two peo­ple, now I have six just in the kitchen. I have more than 15 per­ma­nent staff mem­bers.”

Nkula be­came a para­plegic af­ter a firearm ac­ci­dent in 1991. The for­mer teacher bat­tled to find em­ploy­ment as a re­sult and had to find in­no­va­tive, en­trepreneurial ways to put bread on the ta­ble.

The sky is the limit for Mthombo Nkula who has a thriv­ing town­ship tourism busi­ness.

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