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World brought to Lenyenye

A community centre in the township of Lenyenye in the Greater Tzaneen Municipality in Limpopo has become an information hub for residents, especially drawing young schoolchildren.

14 January 2013

A mobile library is located within the internet cafeA mobile library is located within the internet cafe

Ithuseng Community Centre is opposite the former home of academic and activist Dr Mamphele Ramphele. It houses an internet café, and mobile book and toy libraries. The centre is the brainchild of Ramphele and will soon be renamed Dr Mamphela Ramphele Community Empowerment Centre.

The internet café in Lenyenye, a rural township about 25 kilometres from Tzaneen, was set up with the support of the Greater Tzaneen Development Agency (Gteda) and offers email, scanning and photocopying services, according to the agency's chief executive, Kwena Maphoto.

Gteda was established in March 2007 by the Industrial Development Corporation and Greater Tzaneen Municipality to encourage local economic development in the region. The internet café provides vital communication and information services in a community that lacks technological resources, and where most people rely on informal businesses for survival.

"The café started operating two months ago and has already become popular with schoolchildren who want to do their research on the internet and do assignments. The community at large also uses the photocopying machine quite a lot," explains Maphoto.

It is managed by Elijah Molele, a young local who has "some computer background". Molele says the café has eight computers, a photocopier and a scanner. "It is the only internet cafe operating in the township," he adds.

Besides the internet café, the community centre also houses a mobile library, a partnership between Gteda and the Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy's Community Literacy Project. The library has four wheelie wagon units, each holding about 400 books. It is popular with pupils from the township.

"We have a wide range of books including language and literature, social science, geography, history and general knowledge. The library is mostly used by children from around who come and borrow books," says Maphoto, as two young girls pore over books at one of the tables.

It is managed by volunteers who have been trained in the basics of library management.

A toy library is also housed in the community centre. It lends out toys, puzzles and games for free to five crèches in the township. The toy library provides children with new toys every week, saving crèches money and keeping children from getting bored, according to Maphoto.

An empty room in the community centre has been earmarked for a cellphone repair shop, or any other activity that will generate income for the youth in the township, he explains. "We want this to be a model centre for provision of services," he says.

In the grounds of the community centre, two women turn the wet soil, preparing to plant some maize, pumpkin and spinach. "As you can see, the centre also provides food for the community. The women will sell their crop when it is ready to harvest. This piece of land we gave to local community members to keep them busy and at the same time make some cents."

There are plans to turn Dr Ramphele's old house into a museum. The museum will "recognise Dr Mamphele Ramphele and other influential people", according to Maphoto. "We have many projects within Greater Tzaneen that have not taken off the ground. But as soon as we get sponsorship there will be more to showcase."


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