12 November, 2018 12 November, 2018

Day 3-5: The East Coast Contrast ft. Mdumbi Backpackers and Jonginenge

The Corona Coastal Cleanup moves on to JBay, following an epic 2-day retreat in the beautiful and idyllic Transkei, one of SA’s many surfing treasures. Trading sharks for cattle, Frank Solomon and the crew parked the bus and kicked their shoes off in Mdumbi. To get a better feel for the environment behind the atmosphere of the location conversations were exchanged over Coronas and sustainably sourced seafood, with two of the shareholders Johan and Sibongile. 

The Mdumbi Backpackers is an award-winning company promoting community involvement and sustainable eco-tourism. Sporting panoramic Wild Coast views, nestled in the heart of the Kei the energy was electric, infused with the spirit of the amaXhosa. The Transkei, is one of the last remaining areas in South Africa where chiefs are the authority, livestock the currency and deep-rooted myths the philosophy of the people who populate the houses that scatter the rolling hills. 

As a community-driven incentive, the backpackers strives to promote involvement in sustainable eco-tourism. A unique ownership model sees the local employees, community association, and TransCape (Mdumbi’s affiliated NPO) holding shares in the business.  


Mdumbi Backpackers is closely involved with the community and helped to establish TransCape, a nonprofit that aims to tackle the significant education, health and socio-economic problems in the community. Transcape’s mission is to provide access to the resources, support, and knowledge necessary for communities to initiate the process of change towards a better quality of life.

For a community that is so closely connected with the natural world around them, the state of the environment is critical to their way of life. Whether it be for commercial or subsistence-based needs, the ocean provides a bounty for us all, as long as it is respected and protected. Even here the scourge of plastic infiltrates the seemingly pristine landscape, littering the shore and surrounding communities. After roaming the shoreline, gathering oysters Frank removed a huge ‘ghost net’ from the rocks as well as an assortment of siff plastic.  

After what felt like a minute, and with the next stop calling, the Corona Coastal Cleanup Tour hit the road toward East London, with Nahoon Point Nature Reserve the destination. On arrival, Frank met up with Dean Knox, the founder of Jonginenge on a trek through the dunes, before paddling out at Eastern Beach in the heart of East London           

Nahoon Point Nature Reserve is a community project, that has restored the area after the discovery of a 120 000-year-old footprint. The Reserve is uniquely located in the centre of East London. The 12 km stretch of footpaths and boardwalks supports a large ecological diversity including marine, coastal dune forest, estuary and inter-tidal systems. This makes it an ideal spot for outdoor activities and environmental education. Alien vegetation was removed from about 340 ha of the reserve, estuary, Nahoon river and adjoining areas.

Dubbed one of the most aesthetically pleasing coastal reserves in the country, Nahoon Point is a South African gem with paleoanthropological significance. In fact, it has long been held as a very important prehistorical landmark and enjoys its status as a protected area as a result. Operating out of the area Dean and his crew from Jonginenge combine educational initiatives with the landscape to inspire the youth to take action where the environment is concerned. A grassroots programme helping to instill a sense of responsibility toward being stewards for the ocean.  

The Indian Ocean laps the shores of Nahoon and continues to be popular amongst locals and water sports enthusiasts or simply those who want to lie back and savour the cool ebb and flow of the sea. However, with the good comes the bad, the ugly and the downright dirty. Tucked away along the hard to access coastline, a sinister hand lifts the vale exposing a petrochemical fueled mess. These rocky and isolated beaches play host to huge amounts of plastic that wash ashore as they drift by.

Following a rocky, sharp and scenic trap to Bats Cave with the Jonginenge crew, Dean took Frank deeper into ‘Slummies’ to paddle out at Eastern Beach. On arrival, the juxtaposition between the two spots was glaringly obvious, as plastic carried by the East London wind drifted by, void of a final resting place. Plastic waste lined the shoreline, from the car park to backline, the vibe amongst the team dropping from a Nahoon reserve natural high to an anthropogenic induced depression.            

Whilst Dean and Frank pulled plastic from the sand they discussed the direction the community needed to head toward. One of the first steps toward the end goal, being the simple introduction of more disposal bins along the streets. Along a 3km stretch of plastic lined streets, only one bin made itself available to the 2000+ people enjoying their Sunday drinking in the car park. Service delivery is often a problem around the country, exacerbating the pollution issue, further stressing an already pressured ecosystem. 

Dean explained that there was a certain level of responsibility that the large corporations responsible for a huge amount of the waste needed to adopt. Cleanups should be organised and carried out by the most guilty parties, with startegies to address the issue at the source. Along with this, Dean stressed that the government needs to come to the party in efforts to bring about an air of environmentally appropriate behaviour through education and awareness. A message that rings true to any environmentally conscious citizen. 

The Corona Coastal Cleanup Tour:






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