What's happening on the Wild Coast?
I've tried my utmost to avoid jeapordizing our tourism potential (e.g. talk about shark attacks or occasional petty crime issues), but rather just posted the concerns we experience as permanent residents in the area. Hence my reticence in posting anything (controversial) at all. But one of my fondest wishes is for businesses along the Wild Coast to realize that www.wildcoast.co.za is probably the most well indexed Wild Coast site on ALL search engines, and therefore a free web advertising portal with the highest probable rate of penetration; with approximately 8000 unique visitors a month. The 'funniest' irony is I see several operations registered on Google Adwords who are coming up on the site's Google ads, and are therefore (potentially) paying Google (oh, and me!) for what is actually an entirely free service. (I've even contacted them directly and asked them to register. Heh!)Anyway...There has been a long standing problem with land tenure here, and a further inability for the local populace to enjoy normal commercial opportunities because of the Coastal Decree of 1993 which prohibits any development (or movement) within 1000m of the high-water mark. I'm not going to debate the relative merits of conservation over development in this case, except to say that there are potential areas which should be developed as community owned ventures. Specifically community owned backpacker and volunteer operations which would have a low environmental footprint, yet bring young and interesting travelers to this very special part of the world.So here's what's happening:Firstly, we have received 5 sponsored school computer labs through Uniforum/NetDay in the area, and a further R20,000 from Rotary International to link up all the schools between Hole in the Wall and Coffeee Bay with a WiFi network. The Police Radio Services have kindly allowed the use of their radio tower between the 2 villages to link them up, and I've been slowly assembling the network in my free time. Theoretically it's about a week away from completion; and at that point the schools will all be linked to a CSIR / Meraka Institute "Digital Doorway" - complete with everything from Wikipedia to King James' Bible - and from there to the Internet. Even if with just an Edge connected modem initially; although the plan is to get a VSAT connection application in as soon as the network is operational.Then the "vision" is to start a "volunteer programme" to get interested people to spend between 2 and 6 months teaching the kids basic stuff, helping to create an informal framework, and to get them to blog about the (WESSA) Eco-Schools projects which each school is involved with. (There's a lot more work and development that needs to happen here, so I really hope that some bright souls come along and provide input and help develop the potential.) IMHO I really don't want kids to learn "programming", word-processing, databases or spreadsheets until there is a formal curriculum, or personal direction for those who are interested. I think the potential exists to spark interest amongst high aptitude kids, and let them experience email, IRC, and the capabilities of Web2.0 applications (including Drupal and Moodle, which I've already set up) and let them explore online, collaborative (constructivist) TECHNOLOGY.Long road from here to there, but God willing and time allowing, the plan should fall together soon. (Time may allow, but resources could be a problem. *sigh* ; )Secondly; my hope is that instead of corrupt ward councilors and government administrators giving away large tracts of priceless land here on the Wild Coast to offshore developers with $$ eyes, is that we can rather form community trusts and NPO's which will allow for the development of COMMUNITY owned backpacker and volunteer lodges along the coast and possibly recreate the entire original "Transkei Hiking Trail". God knows that government departments spent millions on so-called tourism developments/attractions, like a "shrine" at Winnie Madikizela's place of birth, without ever conceiving a clear path to community owned enterprises; and they owe these people SRPP (Social Responsibility Policy and Projects) funding, derived from EPWP (Expanded Public Works Program) which takes 1% from all commercial enterprizes.There are a lot of reasons for my bitterness (if it could be so called), not the least of which is the fact that due to the changes in ministeries there is no clear or immediate route to the necessary funding for these proposed ventures. And the reason that the government has a responsibility to these communities is because they are held in paralysis by the new Communal Land Reform Act (CLaRA) and are unable to use their God given heritage (land) for anything apart from informal dwellings. Our hands are tied behind our backs; and while there may be a legitimate argument for environmental conservation, there is also a huge potential for eco-tourism.We here in the Transkei and along the Wild Coast should have the same land rights as anyone in South Africa. From Jeffrey's Bay, to Cape St Francis, Hermanus, or Cape Town; but a curious convergence of historical factors (namely the Zulu Mfecane from the north coinciding with the colonialist thrust from the south) placed the Xhosa people into a peculiar and perilous statelesness. (Read "The House of Phalo" by Prof. Jeff Peires for some insight into the paradoxical situation.)More anon.