HE COULD still be behind his desk “growing” money in Cape Town, but instead he is sizzling a chop on the grid of his brand new tshisanyama. Bongani Mabusela, 29, left the lucrative world of an investment career behind to plough back into Motherwell.
“I knew something was missing and took the decision to resign and improve the area I come from. In fact, in my letter of resignation I mentioned a scripture in John in the Bible where Jesus called his disciples to become fishers of men. I resigned in August 2009 and in January 2010 registered my business,” Mabusela said.
Ibhayi Concept and Entertainment was born and Mabusela was involved in setting up entertainment areas around the fanparks of Nelson Mandela Bay during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Another massive project his company was involved in, was the Cape Town Jazz Festival, where he was originally part of the hospitality team and later site manager.
“In the space of just two days, hundreds of millions of rands is made for the Western Cape economy. I was also involved with hosting the George Benson concert in Port Elizabeth, which attracted more than 20000 people,” Mabusela said.
Other than working for Transnet on several of their corporate social investment projects, Mabusela this year also planned and opened Ibhayi Tshisanyama in Motherwell. The official launch of the African cuisine and braai restaurant is still to take place later this year, but he said due to popular demand, he was forced to open and have a month’s trial run.
“If these past two weeks are anything to go by, it should be a success. A ‘tshisanyama’ is a place where you buy meat, and then chill while it is being cooked for you. We serve pap and chakalaka with it,” Mabusela said.
Busy securing a liquor licence, he said he prefers no alcohol to be served at the tshisanyama because he believes alcohol abuse “only adds to the moral decay of Motherwell”, a suburb that already has about 100 licensed taverns.
However, once a licence is obtained for his restaurant, alcohol will be served in restaurant quantities while people enjoy or wait for their food.
“The meat prices are within people’s reach and we want to also cater for tourists – both domestic and international. We live in an emerging market and have the Big Five and blue seas on our doorstep. Tourists should take a short left on their way back from Addo into Motherwell where I will offer them something they do not see everyday,” Mabusela said.
He also plans to offer conferencing and entertainment facilities at the tshisanyama, which he said he would like to franchise to other parts of the city where the menus would be reflected by the specific suburb. As the former regional chairman of Nafcoc Youth in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2011 and last year, Mabusela’s long-term vision is to expand his African braai restaurant business to include tours and B&B facilities to promote township tourism.
Having worked as an investment consultant for five years in Cape Town after completing his financial management studies there, Mabusela said he does not regret making the move to come back to his hometown. “This city has a lot to offer. If we can link its tourism assets with entertainment programmes, we can add to the GDP and improve the standard of living. I wish I started as an entrepreneur a lot sooner.”