By PRASHALAN GOVENDER
Like many small towns across South Africa, Makhanda has endured turbulent times. Failing infrastructure and a declining economy were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With all the city has been through, Makana Tourism and Rhodes University fourth-year TV students want to remind people, inside and outside the town, of all the city still has to offer. In collaboration with the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, the two parties have created videos, photographs, and audio which explore the town. The current director of Makana Tourism, Prudence Mini, said the content had been produced so that it appeals to locals and tourists. “It beautifully captures many of the local people, their food, cultures, businesses, arts, and crafts,” she said.
The videos are available on YouTube, and the photos and audio are available on an app called Izi Travel.
YouTube is well known, but Izi Travel is less ubiquitous. Izi Travel is a free platform where tours/ information about cities and their attraction is published. The app is available on both IOS and Android smartphones. No matter what letter your generation is associated with, using a new app can be daunting. Thankfully, Izi Travel is not difficult to use. Accessing the tours requires three simple steps.
- Download the application from your app store.
2. Open the app and click on explore guides
3. From there, the app will automatically detect your location and show the tours available at your location.
From here, users can pick a tour that piques their interest and enjoy.
The tours are wide-ranging. Some focus on what specific streets are known for: New Street with its multiple clubs, High Street with many businesses, and Beaufort Street with street vendors selling food and crafts. Others, such as the team behind Bullets to Books, covered buildings with a violent history that have now been repurposed for educational and recreational purposes. The students’ lecturer, Dr Alette Schoon, says that the project was interesting to her as she has an affinity for finding new “ways to represent space” and “making people realize the richness we have (in Makhanda)”.
The tours and their respective videos could be perceived as content for people from out of town looking to acquaint themselves with the city. Still, the extensive content likely has information that a Makhanda resident might find helpful. For example, in the tour/video A Night in Makhanda the creators give audiences insight into the new (Infinity Lounge) and old (Friars and The Rat) clubs and pubs available on New Street.
Such insight would, presumably, help audiences find a place to unwind after a long day at work or for tourists – a long day of site-seeing.
Those looking for some solitude when they leave the house there are tours like Bullets to Books which, in addition to being a tour, serves as a bit of a history lesson. For example, in Bullets to Books, the creators discuss how the 1820 Settlers Monument was once a commemoration of the arrival of English settlers but now celebrates something worthy of being celebrated – graduating from a tertiary education institute (the monument is now used as a venue for Rhodes’ graduation ceremony). On the other hand, the political listener may find the video and its related tour about businesses owned by people of colour particularly interesting.
As we’re emerging from the isolation brought on by the pandemic, this type of content feels like precisely what we need to help us refamiliarize ourselves with our surroundings.