Thembi Koli

Tourism is who I am

Meet Thembi Koli, Kayamandi’s own diva tour guide, this beautiful and passionate lady has not just lived in Kayamandi all her life but has made her footstep count and changed lives as far as she went. She was born in East London but is now residing in Kayamandi where she has stolen the hearts of many. 

“I came from a big family, like most of us and grew up with my grandmother and grandfather with cousins and siblings, that is why I am such a loud and colourful person. I still remember how my grandmother would teach us to respect each other and taught us that we could do anything that we set our mind to, and I set my mind to tourism and travelling.”

After high school, Thembi volunteered her time in her community to pass the time and be of help to her fellow peers and elders. She studied in Cape Town, and even though her parents wanted her to become a lawyer, she was adamant to follow her heart into tourism and travel. 

I love what I do

“Tourism is more than just travelling and meeting new people”, Thembi said. I love what I do because, “Tourism helps me teach other people about my culture, my beliefs and what makes my country and heritage so special. Just for that reason, I love what I do, and I love to share that knowledge with the people that escort and meet.”

With excitement in her voice, she proclaims that tourism is not just important to her as an individual. Tourism is essential to many families, women and youth that are working in the industry and that tourism supports many livelihoods and allows us to travel and meet new meet people. Thembi states, “I love that tourism creates jobs for people that are diverse and comes from all walks of life.”

Don’t lose hope

Thembi shares her words of encouragement with the women and people that have been affected by the phrase, “Don’t lose hope, let us stand tall and live complex.” and “Let us embrace the change.”

Furthermore, she encourages women “Do not sit and wait around for something to happen, get up and change your direction; you are the only one that can change your circumstances.” Thembi shares her journey after lockdown and how things went downhill for her, but she will not lose hope and will continue to voice her opinions and be part of the noise to spread awareness and open our borders.


My greatest hopes

“That we will come back stronger from the lockdown and that we will embrace the change”, that is my biggest hopes for after the lockdown lifts and “That we as women will not be scared to voice our opinions as we have the power and confidence to do whatever we set our minds to.”

Thembi concludes her chat with Danielle Taute with, “We will be okay, and we will overcome this pandemic that has brought so much disruption to our lives and the economy of South Africa.”

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“We will be okay, and we will overcome this pandemic that has brought so much disruption to our lives and the economy of South Africa.”

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