Innovative Cape Jazz Tourism in Cape Town
An online search of Cape Jazz led me to an interesting conversation with a creative & innovative travel agency in Cape Town, South Africa. After an initial email exchange, a meeting was set in Dunkley Square at the Ikaya Lodge. A relaxed, barefoot gentleman greeted me with an open smile and observant eyes. Sabelo led me to a table from where I had a clear view of Roxy’s, the notorious hip, cool, all day and night yuppie hang-out. Lifting my eyes, I could see Table Mountain under the blue Cape Town sky. I just cannot get enough of our imposing flat table, with or without the cloth. What do you think of Table Mountain? Comment below!
While drinking coffee, Sabelo, with an open Macbook listened with great interest to my story. Dipping his attention to the screen, he asked meaningful clarifying questions. ‘This is not an interview’, he said, to which I politely smiled. A motorbike roared by as Sabelo started to tell how Coffeebeans Routes has nothing to do with coffee but everything to do with stories, people, and conversations.
When the field of tourism becomes crowded, creative, out of the box thinking leads the way to innovative products and experiences. Innovation is often born out of common frustration and from simple conversations while drinking coffee. In Cape Town, there are at least 6 must-sees, must-visit sites. These are 1: Table Mountain, 2: Cape Point, 3: Robben Island, 4: The V&A Waterfront, 5: The Wine Route, and 6: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Be sure not to miss these but be aware that they are well-trodden paths.
Tourism and Stories
Coffeebeans Routes bases tourism on stories not on sites or destinations but on the stories of people who live in real cities. There is no choreography or show with multi-leveled agendas and a one-way money motive. One of the founders says that ‘Coffeebeans Routes splashes stories all over the canvas of tourism. Stories are our currency, the equalizers, our stories shift the balance of power… tourism is our playground to share the stories of South African cities.’
STORYTELLING, HUMAN CAPITAL, SOCIAL JUSTICE.
A few weeks later I met iain at Ikaya lodge. He too was with his Macbook and a coffee, but he did wear shoes. He lives with his wife and kids in an Eco-Village in Stellenbosch which is the 2nd oldest city of Cape Town and well known for its award-winning wines and spirits. The Eco-Village aims to be a microcosm of Desmond Tutu’s vision of a Rainbow Nation. One can easily see conviction and sincerity in iain’s eyes. He dreams of impacting society by breaking down the stereotypes and false assumptions. My 45 minutes with Sabelo and iain deepened my appreciation of the Coffeebeans Routes vision and mission, STORYTELLING, HUMAN CAPITAL AND SOCIAL JUSTICE.
A microcosm of the Rainbow Nation
That day, 3 people from 3 different races in South Africa sat around one table with a common dream, common challenges and a common hope.
Cape Jazz, Gumba, Minstrels
By invitation, I joined in on a few Cape Jazz safaris and other English educational excursions offered by Coffeebeans Routes. Arriving for a Jazz Safari, I found Sabelo with a guest at a notice board of more than 50 pictures of change-makers. Within minutes I concluded that Sabelo has a large place in his head to store information with a very fast processor for on-demand access. That night we took an American and a Canadian couple to Hilton Schilder’s home in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. On the way, Sabelo introduced Cape Jazz, its history, and key players. He talked about Gumba, Minstrels, Dollar Brand and the emergence of Jazz amidst Apartheid’s oppression as we wound our way south with District Six as a stark reminder of those dark days in South Africa.
Long black hair & an old piano
With his long black hair and gentle manner, Hilton invited us into his home while background jazz music drew us into the mood. A delicious aroma of Cape curry wafted from the kitchen as his wife appeared to welcome us. Before dinner was served Hilton introduced himself and played a tune on what looked like a bow of a bow and arrow. Dinner was served that led us into a delightful evening of storytelling, jazz music, great food and a memorable ambiance. Hilton touched his old piano with tenderness as he told of their years together. ‘How many tourists get to experience this?’, I wondered as Hilton connected with the guests on Facebook and exchanged email addresses.
Behind the tourism curtain
Our North American guests could not stop talking about the experience. They went behind the tourism curtain that night. Artists like Hilton normally come out to the tourists, but this is an example of Coffeebeans Routes’ innovation; bringing tourists to the artists, to the real people in real settings for an uninterrupted, intimate encounter. This is what makes tourism memorable.
After 4 hours on a Jazz Safari, I arrived home after 11pm with a new appreciation for conversations over coffee, for stories and for deep, creative thinking.
Confirm your seat
Book a Jazz Safari that includes transport, food, knowledge sharing, and storytelling. Meet great local musicians right in their homes. Contact me at [email protected] to secure your seat!