“We believe exploring the world is something everyone should experience”
Travel Noba, founded by Singatha Hlazo, and Zulu Nomad, founded by Phaka Dludla, are two different travel suppliers that operate together. Working together as a team allows for Travel Noba and Zulu Nomad to get individual focus from their respective founders while allowing the two travel agencies to work under the same umbrella with the same goals. Their tag team mission is to encourage more young Black South Africans to make traveling a part of their lifestyle as well as to create travel experiences that provide an affirmative narrative for our continent.
Both Phaka and Singatha expressed how disheartening it is to board a plane with very few Black South Africans. They identified the issues here being that many people do not realize that they can afford to travel, and so have never tried, as well as the fact that people are scared to travel internationally on their own. “Added to this is the fact that the black community is expected to spend a certain way. We all see how certain advertising is targeted at different race groups based on perceived interests and spending patterns. We want to break this trend apart,” they explained.
Travel Noba started off as a travel information platform aimed at inspiring Black Africans, more specifically, Black South Africans, to travel more; to explore the world. “What we noticed is that all travel marketing and advertising had no black representation, meaning these ads, and on a larger scale, travelling as a whole was directed at the people represented in the advertising. It felt like an exclusion of sorts,” explains Singatha. Noting the exclusionary nature of these advertisements and the travel experiences offered, combined with the passion for travelling and understanding how travelling opens up your mind and world, Travel Noba came to life with September 2016 seeing its evolution into a complete travel agency.
Zulu Nomad’s journey began through Phaka living in Shanghai and sharing the experience on her personal IG account. On her return to SA she continued to travel and frequently received comments related to finding the time and money to travel. At this point she realized that there is a gap in the travel market for young people, specifically with the kinds of experiences that were available. Phaka describes Zulu Nomad as a “group travel experience movement” with the aim of inspiring young South Africans and challenging the way in which we think about travel – specifically the idea that travel is only available for a select few. “Historically, travelling was a privilege which the majority of us did not grow up with, our parents could never have afforded to take us on trips around the world. Even as we grow ourselves, start making an income, traveling is the last thing on our minds because we have been socialized to aspire to material items to show off wealth,” explains Phaka. Zulu Nomad is trying to work against this by encouraging young people to be open to new adventures as well as to provide a platform that allows them to see that we can afford to travel.
While they have both experienced challenges in starting and growing their agencies, including financial responsibilities (‘black tax’) and access to funding, they have remained positive and continue to work with what they have made available. Building a solid foundation and getting all the details right is important to them both to ensure that their customers enjoy each destination to its fullest. “Our experiences are about putting yourself out there, challenging yourself and your worldview…it’s about scuba diving with the whale sharks in Tofo, paragliding over the Turkish Riviera in Fethiye, sailing on a boat on the Mediterranean”.
In thinking about travel in Africa, Phaka and Singatha mentioned how we have been socialized into thinking that we live on the “dark continent”, and through their travel experiences and vision for the future they are wanting to work against this narrative. The Zulu Nomad Afrika Experiences are about changing our own perceptions of what and who is Africa, one country at a time. “The most beautiful moment of our recent Zulu Nomad Malawi Experience was not captured on film, it was in the warm spirit of Malawi, in the people – this is how we rebuild”. Singatha envisions Travel Noba as becoming the largest travel portal in Africa, providing travel services to everyone on the continent and making it easier for inter-Africa travel. Presenting the beauty of Africa and changing the way in which traveling as a whole is portrayed. “We want to show that black people do travel, that we do explore the world”.
To the travel options they have available and to keep up with how they make waves in the travel experience industry, check out the Travel Noba website and the soon to be launched Zulu Nomad website. You can also check out their Facebook pages Travel Noba and Zulu Nomad and IG accounts (@travelnoba and @zulunomadsa).