South Africa Volunteers

Wild coast.

The "Wild Coast" is the rugged, remote, fairly unpopulated stretch of South African coastline between East London and Port Edward.

Historical Background of the Area

Located almost equidistant between Durban and East London, the Wild Coast stretches 320km along the eastern tip of South Africa. It is a rocky coast with remote villages, numerous rivers, waterfalls, unspoiled beaches, expansive open space and pristine forests. In the contemporary face of South Africa, this environment is host to Xhosa and Mpondos whom adhere to ancestral traditions.  Many still continue in the sustainable agro-pastoral tradition; keeping livestock and tending to subsistence vegetable gardens.

The area was formerly known as the Transkei Homeland during the period of Apartheid from the early 1950's to its demise in 1994. Apartheid was a racially segregated type of government where the white race was supreme in all aspects of life. The minority white population; whilst simultaneously monitoring the movement of the non-white populations created various Homelands to separate races and ensure the monopolization of resources and economic sectors.

In contrast to the other homelands, the Transkei was given its own government and was a separate country during this time.  There was a military, a president and governing structure expressly for this region. 

Today visitors to the small town of Port St Johns will encounter an eclectic mix of local characters and African flair. The friendly chaos of this bustling coastal community is both inviting and mesmerizing.  Many visitors describe their experiences here as “distinctly African”; striking a balance between the changing face of rural South Africa and traditional recognition of the past.

Regardless, the area to this day is grossly underdeveloped and undereducated; a relic of the Apartheid era in which these consequences were very much premeditated and deliberate.  Access to affordable and adequate education and resources is the main challenge faced today by the youth of the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape Province.  The opportunities, resources and support structures are simply not established as strongly as they are in other parts of the country.

Looked upon as a major focal point for development over the course of the next ten years; the region faces many challenges and hopefully vast improvements as a newly established Democracy. Volunteering in South Africa can be a truly amazing experience.