The Impossible is only Impossible until its done

In the year 2018 the Dreamcatcher Kamammas and Nelson Mandela live on….

Kamamma Evelyn Swartbooi – Kayamandi, Stellenbosch – CookUp with Kamamma. Sharing her passion for traditional Xhosa cuisine with her guests

This year we mourn the passing and celebrate the lives of 3 of our founding Kamammas. Those who dared to cross the divide with me to intentionally challenge and break the mould of what constituted the South African experience for decades.  We also salute our “Madiba” Nelson Mandela whose 100th year of birth we celebrate.  While we do so, it is our duty to reflect, and confront ourselves wisely and honestly with important questions. We also owe it to the many international visitors and donors, without whose support the Kamammas would be no more, and our recent global recognition as one of the top social innovators in the world, an unfulfilled dream.

So, have there been the significant changes Nelson Mandela and those who struggled for and dreamed of, in the tourism industry in South Africa? It has been 25 years and counting after all. How has this benefitted our “born free” generation who are now young adults? And if so is it adequate? Finally, were the Dreamcatcher Kamammas, whom we laid to rest, better off when they left us than when they started out?

As Dreamcatcher proudly celebrates 32 years pioneering a new tourism way and we celebrate the survival of Dreamcatcher Kamammas tourism services, we reflect collectively on days gone by, when our Dreamcatcher “Go truly Local’ community based experiences were laughed off and suffered rejection. We also celebrate our collective vision, to empower community based tourist experiences which took visitors into the heart of the township communities. To innovate new tourism destinations in the communities, which we were told would never work.

Now as  2018 draws to a close,  with another year come and gone, one thing we do know: Dreamcatcher is concretely addressing 11 of UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals!  Our mission, forged in little rooms, with few amenities but big dreams, was to provide visitors with the chance to meet the people and engage meaningfully, enabling intra-cultural ties and harmony in diversity, on a truly equal, fair and inclusive access basis. Furthermore, we have pioneered new South African experiences benefitting local communities in regions beyond the mainstream travel routes. Dreamcatcher Kamammas have come a long way. Those who left us, have left their Kamamma legacy to families to continue to pursue.

Kamamma Annie Saayman – Melkhoutfontein – Stilbaai – Dreamcatcher Board Member – Working hard for access to basic medical resources and food in her community.

Our dream was not to take away from but to add to what is South Africa. There is just so much more! Forging enabling partnerships to disperse visitors around South Africa with the chance of inclusive involvement of everyone, not least the chance for entrepreneurship and job creation in services which enable visitors to get down among the people. It was the route we chose to travel. We believed in the relevance and potential which tourism and travel around South Africa could play to enable entrepreneurship across South Africa. We have walked the talking.

As we find ourselves inundated with requests from visitors who want to come to South Africa to experience exactly to engage on their travels with us, we stand proud and salute our Homestay – and CookUp with Kamammas, our Crafters and our Local guides offering a proudly owned services as entrepreneurs. We don’t want it to be all about one experience. We believe as we take stock,  that this classic monistic approach should innovate towards a more pluralistic approach where the greater good of society is a key consideration in every decision made,  if it is indeed our goal to grow sustainable tourism entrepreneurs and welcome more visitors.  South Africa is truly an amazing diverse country. We find ourselves in the position, as travel route developers, that we are passing good business onto mainstream tourism services. We need to ensure visitors, both international and domestic, get to experience the wonder.

The ‘Kamammas and Boetis’ report they are more than they were before they started. That they have made a difference in their lives and that of their community through tourism and feel more relevant than ever today than when they started out. As one Kamamma recently put it:

“What being a Kamamma has meant to me and my family, is that today I am somebody not nobody”

Recently said to be ’25 years before our time’ by the now National Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom,  we reach out to partners and share our expertise with departments and organisations in South Africa to pioneer and innovate socio-economic growth models, innovate interesting people engaged destinations, and share our expertise on how tourism and travel can work.

Kamamma Magda Kick – Knysna – Through our sustainable home farming and composting project – growing food for her family and visitors.

We rally to the call of both the Minister of Tourism and our State Present Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, to raise the bar of tourism delivery to benefit and grow jobs inclusively. In pride and humility, we send our Kamammas off into eternity, their memories and example of resilience, strength and service above all,  endorses the future “the Dreamcatcher pluralistic way’.

We salute you Kamammas  Magda, Annie and Evelyn. You got it right all those years ago, when in spite of the struggle ahead to be heard and recognised, you dumped your servant’s apron and donned a service one 🙂

We will continue to live the dream we dared to dream: To  empower proud tourism business entrepreneurs; to expand into new exciting travel routes and flipping amazing destinations – to show what South Africa is really like; to service tourists and earn money to improve local lives, sustainably by developing a pluralistic approach to tourism growth.  What a beautiful legacy.

We thank the many tourists, donors and volunteers, who found us before -and on their travels across South Africa, discovering our true land and its people, they never knew existed. And they gladly contributed their skills and brought their humanity with them and merged with ours in the communities.  Our reviews tell their stories. The Kamammas were proud, loved meeting their clients and being of service to them in true local style.

Collectively we have all made Nelson Mandela’s dream for a “better life”, work.

That’s good isn’t it?


Dreamcatcher Founder Anthea, Kamammas, Boetis and Dreamcatcher Kids

September 2018