The WILDTRUST, in collaboration with the Tembe Traditional Authority, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, has built a community resource hub, located in the north of KwaZulu-Natal. On 25th May, the community of eNkovukeni celebrated the grand opening of their new Centre.
“This hub is intended to be a valuable resource Centre for the community to provide support for key
initiatives such as building ocean awareness, training, micro-enterprise development, employment
opportunities for youth, support for community involvement in conservation activities and tourism as
well as facilitating access to amenities,” commented WILDTRUST Senior Project Manager, Nozi
This hub forms part of the deliverables of the Oceans Alive iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area (MPA)
Project. This 4-year collaborative project supported by the Blue Action Fund aims to increase the
protection of marine biodiversity and strengthen the management effectiveness of the iSimangaliso
MPA, while delivering tangible benefits to improve the livelihoods of communities living within and
adjacent to the MPA.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority Chief Executive Officer, Sibusiso Bukhosini, addressed the
community saying, “As iSimangaliso Wetland Park we are in full support of this programme and we are
committed to continuing this partnership with the community, it’s leaders, WILDTRUST and Ezemvelo
The initial stages of the construction of the hub involved the recruitment of twelve (12) local trainees to
partake in a construction skills training and work experience programme to assist with the building of the
hub infrastructure. The involvement of local community members in the construction helped to create a
sense of ownership and pride linked to this hub.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife General Manager of Conservation Services, Joe Phadima, encouraged the
community to make full use of the new community resource hub saying, “This hub does not belong to
the WILDTRUST, nor all the partners seated here today, but it belongs to the beautiful community of
eNkovukeni, take full advantage of it.”
The final stages of the construction were focused on the finishing touches to complete the look and feel
of the hub. In this phase, the community members collaborated with graffiti artist, Giffy – and together
they came up with a design that was depicted on the walls to reflect eNkovukeni’s marine life and
Andile Ncontsa, Chairman of the WILDTRUST Board who delivered the keynote address at the launch
event said: “One of the main purposes of this hub is for the youth to gain access to information and be
able to use this knowledge to empower themselves and I am happy to announce that this project will be
extended for a further four years, which will allow us to strengthen our collaborative efforts. Choosing
this community was deliberate, all of you took the journey with us across the lake and up the mountain,
so you are aware how difficult it was, and despite these challenges, we managed to work together to
achieve this feat.”
King Tembe of eNkovukeni addressed the community detailing the history of eNkovukeni and the origins of the Thonga people. He expressed his gratitude about the construction of the hub. “Sometimes you do work unaware that you’re working for the nation. We used to hold meetings underneath a tree and now we have this very beautiful hub which we are very grateful for. We thank all partnerships that made this possible.”
There was ululation, clapping and cheering when the local women who were part of the sewing machine
beneficiary training programme, showcased their garments by hosting a fashion show, and children from
eNkovukeni Primary School were the stars of the show. The traditional dancing group put on an amazing
performance that thoroughly entertained everyone present.
This hub will be a place of hope for all age groups – full of positive energy and opportunities for the
people that live in and around this very special Marine Protected Area.
Photo Credit: Mnqobi Zuma