Tanda Tula discusses the impact of SONA regarding tourism and education

South Africa’s “New Dawn”, Tourism the “Sunrise Industry”, and Education’s role in our Success

Don Scott, the owner of Tanda Tula, shares his own personal take on South Africa’s exciting changes, our new president’s SONA speech and how education is the only way forward. This post can originally be found on the Tanda Tula blog page.

The last few months have been rather exciting for South Africans. We've watched, with a healthy mixture of anticipation and trepidation, the theatre of change in our country’s executive. I am sure we all shared a collective sigh of relief when the announcement came that Jacob Zuma was stepping down as the President of South Africa. Admit it, you had to have felt a little victory for South Africa when you witnessed that moment!


So, it was with particular interest that I decided to watch the inaugural State of the Nation Address delivered by our new president. I have to say that this is the first State of the Nation Address that I have ever sat through from start to finish. I truly found it refreshing and interesting to listen to a speech delivered by someone who clearly understood what he is talking about, and who genuinely seems to have the interests of his country and its people front and centre.

Whilst Cyril Ramaphosa did not shy away from the challenges facing us as a nation, he certainly made an earnest effort to highlight the need for unity and involvement by all of us in the changes now required to transform our country. The promise of a “new dawn” is certainly something South Africans should all be excited about. And as part of this new dawn, President Ramaphosa highlighted Tourism as one of South Africa’s “sunrise” industries.

Yes, we are a sunrise industry. We are an industry that offers enormous potential for growth, GDP contribution, job creation and human capital development. We are also an industry that seeks to enhance “Brand South Africa” on a global scale by sharing the unrivalled beauty of our country through the warm hospitality that is uniquely South African.


As the owner of Tanda Tula, with our tented safari camps in the Timbavati, I have to ask myself: how do we as tourism businesses realize the full potential of our industry, without committing to transforming ourselves from within? We were reminded by our President that it is imperative that we all commit to a transformation in our industry. Particularly transformation that focuses on developing the talents of black people, especially young black people. As a company, Tanda Tula truly shares his belief that this is the only way for our businesses to be sustainable. If we are thinking about the ‘long game’ here, we must be thinking of succession planning, and that succession planning must be inclusive and representative of the country’s demographics.


One of the keys to this long-term approach is access to high quality education for our children. This is why the Tanda Tula Scholarship program was developed, and why for us it is so vital. Although a relatively small and boutique safari camp operation, we have found ways to make our childrens’ education a priority. We have started by selecting five of our staff’s children who are all of primary-school age. These children have been awarded the Tanda Tula full scholarship to attend Southern Cross Schools. Southern Cross Schools is one of South Africa’s leading private schools. They offer world class education to girls and boys from pre-primary through to the 12th grade - www.southerncrossschools.co.za

As a business owner, I believe that all tourism-based businesses can find ways to support high-quality education of children. We are providing our industry with it’s future employees, leaders and business owners. I have personally witnessed the dramatic growth and unlocking of potential of a few of our local children, when provided with the opportunity of a high-quality school education through the Tanda Tula scholarship program.

Nelson Mandela said : “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world".  And I couldn’t agree more. Our on-going adult literacy program at Tanda Tula provides a basic education platform for all our staff. It has been running for a couple of years with remarkable and uplifting results. It has been such a successful project that we have consequently built a dedicated classroom at Tanda Tula for adult learners. (To read more about this inspiring space click here)

A new dawn

I felt inspired by the words and the message from President Ramaphosa. As a result, I feel that we all have a part to play in contributing to a growing Tourism industry. We also have an opportunity to be a powerful change agent in South Africa. We have the ability to help turn around some of the regress of our recent past. This is done by being there to lend a hand to our youth in achieving their aspirations. And quality education is a cornerstone of those aspirations. As President Ramaphosa so eloquently quoted the late great Hugh Masekela : “I want to be there when the people start to turn it around…. I want to lend a hand…. Send Me!”. We are being called to action. Let’s be there, let’s lend a hand, send us!