WATCH: Langa's Airbnb serves up the real deal - Cape-style hospitality

17 March 2017 - 19:23 By Petru Saal
Linda Pona outside her home in Langa.
Linda Pona outside her home in Langa.
Image: Anthony Molyneaux

When you step into the home of Nombulelo Msizi you are transported from the hustle and bustle of Harlem Street in Langa into a tranquil new world.

Singer Brenda Fassie grew up in this very street. And it’s now the address of Skamba Bed and Breakfast – an immaculate Airbnb run by Msizi.

Msizi moved to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape when she was 18 years old. After working at a hospital‚ restaurants and various hotels in the Mother City she took the plunge and opened her bed and breakfast - a lifelong dream.

Her bright green home stands in stark contrast to the neutral colours of her neighbours’ homes.

Training to be an Airbnb host started in December and today Msizi‚ and eight others from Langa‚ graduated from a business development course presented by the Ekhaya Le Langa Community Centre.

What was once a quaint one bedroom house for Msizi and her five children is now a four bedroom home. Two of the rooms are used solely to host guests. The décor is African‚ with images of the big five and reed wall covers.

 

For about R500 a night‚ guests can sleeps in a furnished house‚ have home cooked meals and be taken on tours of Langa‚ the residents of which played a vital role in the resistance against apartheid.

Cape Town is fast becoming a growing market for Airbnb with 17 500 currently listed in the city. In 2016‚ 415 000 people made use of Airbnb. Depending on its location and style‚ a single Airbnb host can make up to R28 400 for just one booking.

Linda Pona also makes use of Airbnb to advertise her bed and breakfast in Langa. This is her primary source of income and it allows her to build her dream home brick by brick.

Guests are particularly fond of her husband‚ who is wheelchair bound. He entertains guests with struggle stories and how he marched with thousands of others to call for an end to the regime.

In both homes guests are treated to traditional meals such as steamed bread‚ vetkoek and samp and beans. Pona said this is what visitors prefer because they want to get the complete cultural experience.

Tony Elvin‚ founder of the Ekhaya Le Langa Community Centre‚ has been vital in striking up the partnership between the Langa women and Airbnb. He said “people of Langa have endured so much but are the friendliest and hospitable people”. Co-founder of Airbnb Brian Chesky surprised the ladies at their graduation. He started the company nine years ago with a roommate in the United States after they opened their home to conference when hotels were fully booked.

The Airbnb name came about because Chesky did not have real beds but air mattresses for their guests. The global hospitality company has donated 3 computers to the Langa community centre and the women will be able to check bookings for their homes.