ATAMELA – EXPERIENCE THE PEOPLE AND CULTURE OF SOUTH AFRICA
Established in 1999, Atamela means to come closer or to come together. The name aims to build a bridge between Africans, white South Africans and visitors alike through cultural tour packages.
My tours are different from other guided tours or sightseeing holidays. These tours will expose you to our beautiful weather, breath-taking views, and historical landmarks. In addition, I will give you the cultural encounter of a lifetime, exposing you to the heart of our diverse culture and its people. The focus of my tours is bringing people together and making it possible for them to learn from each other.
I was born and raised in the Township Soweto in Johannesburg. I am a SATOUR accredited guide and furthered my studies in Germany between 1992 to 1998.
When I decided to study tourism, I was amazed by the fact that there were virtually no Africans participating in this industry. I saw many buses coming into Soweto, but the tourists never got out and walked around and talked to the Soweto residents. They sat in the bus taking pictures. Most of us felt like we were animals in a zoo or game park.
South Africa is one of the most blessed countries in the world – we have the best weather all year round, breath-taking scenic views, a diverse animal world, unusual flora and fauna, and a fascinating collection of tribes with different customs and traditions. This diversity not only fascinates visitors from other countries, but it fascinates us.
Tourism literature did not do justice to us or to our country. I wanted to change this and I thought that, as a Sowetan resident, I have the perspective and the connections to create a unique experience of Johannesburg and Soweto specifically.
After completing my tourism studies in South Africa in 1992, I went to Germany to further my studies in tourism and spent 6 years working in the German tourism industry. In 1998, I returned to South Africa to establish my own tour operating business, and Atamela Tours was born.
South Africa has nine province/states and Gauteng is the smallest but the most important province for the country and continent. This is due to the fact that Johannesburg city is in Gauteng and it is the economic powerhouse not only for South Africa but the continent at large.
Johannesburg is the only city in the country that will give you a feel of a typical African city in every way possible.
Soweto is right next to Johannesburg and was developed to be a “dormitory” to house the working force for Johannesburg.
Like any large city in Southern African, there is crime in Johannesburg, however, it is not as bad as the media makes it out to be. Petty crime does exist in and around the city centre but most of the serious crime reported is outside of the areas where visitors would venture on their own or with a guide accompanying them.
My advice would be, try not to look like a typical tourist with cameras hanging on your shoulder, do not carry too much cash and be alert. If you are unsure which areas are considered unsafe, please ask at your hotel, guesthouse or at a police station. When leaving your car parked out in the street, make sure you do not have objects lying around that may attract thieves. Another tip is also very effective and simple: when you are in a predominately black area, self-driven or on a guided tour, be friendly, greet the people, smile back and show interest. By showing respect to Africans they will immediately notice that you are probably a visitor and will treat you likewise. If you show locals respect, they will repay you in kind and treat you with the same respect.