I created a blog because I wanted to share with the world the experiences to be had in my beautiful home, Victoria Falls. However, these last three years I have built a second home in this world, in the equally special town of Grahamstown. This cosy corner of the Eastern Cape is reminiscent of the supportive community I was raised in, and the small business that thrive here deserve some recognition too.
Grahamstown is home to an array of homespun, serene local business. There is nothing quite like a Red Café milkshake on a steaming hot day, or a Zonke Bonke breakfast deal from Delezzia on a relaxed Sunday morning. However, the introduction of large, multinational franchises pose a serious threat to these unique local stores.
Large franchises lack the individualistic, homely touch of our charming local businesses. MacDonald’s cannot compete with a piping hot, mouth-watering boerewors roll, courtesy of Mama Pam after a night on the town. The frozen yogurts in Wakaberry are incomparable to the tantalising assortment of full cream, full flavour ice creams in Delezzia. The devilish treats within home industries are of a quality that mass produced baked goods will never accomplish. There is no better wakeup call than a freshly brewed mug of coffee from Provost, and the “Upside Down Marshmallow Frozen Hot Chocolate” from Mugg and Bean will never convince me otherwise.
Grahamstown may be lacking in the modern, mainstream outlets that are littered all over the world, but our traditional stores have made our community more cohesive, as local enterprises offer one of a kind deals, and in return, students lend them their support.
A recent visit to Thailand left me speechless at the number of Burger Kings and Starbucks that loomed over traditional, picturesque restaurants. A few streets had become as anonymous as a duty free airport shop. However, Grahamstown is bursting with innovative and self-sufficient entrepreneurs such as Eric Oware and Yaw Sarpong, two self-employed brother that tirelessly mend shoes on High Street. Sarah Cohen runs an online jewellery store to supplement her income, and Mama Pam fries her famous boerewors rolls that are eagerly anticipated by hungry students. These entrepreneurs illustrate the creative ways in which unemployment can be tackled on a community level, while retaining the culture and creativity that Grahamstown is revered for.
I may not be able to walk with cheetahs or fling myself off bridges here, but it has a special place in my heart, and it is exciting and exhilarating place to be in its own right.