Tourism Update caught up with Boithumelo Joy Phirisi, Owner Director of Native Minds, at Africa’s Travel Indaba 2018, who is transforming local history into tourism.

Based in Galeshewe township, Kimberley, Northern Cape, Native Minds consists of a team of 13 and specialises in oral history documentation, which, in turn, promotes tourism, heritage practices, tourist guiding and tours.

Phirisi describes himself as a local Tourist Guide, Cultural Activist, as well as a Heritage Practioner. “Combining all those, I have seen the necessity of telling our own stories and, through that, knowing that our history has been so falsified, I came up with the concept of Native Minds,” he comments.

Phirisi says the purpose of Native Minds is to document the oral history of previously disadvantaged communities and promote this history through active tourist guiding activities, while transforming the region into a cultural tourism destination.

Native Minds conducts guided tours of the township, including the city, while telling a native story. Guided bicycle tours are also on offer and Phirisi says he has an open bus that he converted for day tours.

“Native Minds wants to unearth the history that has been so hidden and try to promote it to the world,” says Phirisi.

Since its beginning in 2006, the company has grown steadily and, in its growth, Phirisi says he has managed to buy a property, which Native Minds has transformed into a native gallery, where local artists’ works are displayed, including the creations of Phirisi, an artist himself.

In addition, puppet shows are on offer, story-telling, comedy shows, and live band performances at the gallery. There is also a restaurant on the property, where local African cuisine and African delicacies are on offer.

In 2010, Native Minds was commissioned by the Sol Plaatje local municipality to document the oral history of one of South Africa’s oldest surviving locations, namely Galeshewe, in an effort to promote and market its history, while promoting the destination for tourism purposes.

Looking to the future, Phirisi says he wants to see Native Minds become one of the most prominent brands in the promotion of South Africa’s history and cultural heritage.

Sharing his insight with those wishing to start out in the industry, Phirisi says: “If you are thinking of starting your own business, follow your dreams and never give up.”