About Coffee Bay

Coffee Bay is part of the O.R Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. The municipality stretches along the Wild Coast for some 160km from Kei Mouth in the south to Port Edward in the north – and inland for almost 100km. The region, including Coffee Bay, boasts beautiful indigenous fauna and flora, and is home to many unique endemic species in the (as yet) unspoilt greenfields.

The municipality also encompasses most of the former “Republic of Transkei”, once an ‘independent’ homeland during the apartheid years. As one of two territories set aside for the Xhosa people, the Transkei was little more than a puppet state controlled by the apartheid government. The area suffered from a lack of economic and social investment resulting in a lack of opportunities, poor infrastructure and other social and environmental problems associated with poverty.

The Transkei (as it was then, and is still known as) was the birthplace of prominent leaders of the apartheid liberation movement of South Africa, including Nelson Mandela and Oliver Reginald Tambo.

Coffee Bay is a small community of about 600 people, 60km from Mthatha, the region’s biggest town. Coffee Bay falls within the King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) district of the O.R Tambo District Municipality.

More about the area

While stats are rarely descriptive, the stats of the region to which Coffee Bay belongs tells a tragic story in which communities’ lives are dominated by poverty, hardhsip and ill health.

Within O. R Tambo municipality:

  • 91% have no access to electricity
  • 77% are unemployed
  • 75% have no access to running water
  • 64.6% live in poverty
  • 57.8% are illiterate
  • 29% are living with HIV

Within KSD district:

  • 93.3% have no formal sanitation services
  • 88% live below the poverty line
  • 78.3% have no access to standard water supply
  • 71.5% of the economically active population is unemployed

Challenges identified by the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development:

  • Food security – malnutrition
  • High unemployment levels
  • Infrastructure backlogs
  • Housing shortage
  • Low levels of education
  • Low levels of health facilities
  • Environmental degradation

Other issues observed within the community:

  • Reliant on social grants
  • Young males leave the area to work in the mines – the recession is affecting this employment and therefore money coming to families in the area
  • Reliance on odd jobs
  • Wood and paraffin lamps are predominantly used for cooking and light
  • No refuse disposal
  • Deliberate policy of under investment during apartheid which continues to have economic, health and social ramifications at every level
  • Global “credit crunch” recession affecting charity donations and tourism numbers
  • Expectations of existing government schools in the area are very low and many adults in the community are illiterate impacting on the after school help children get from their parents
  • High AIDS prevalence resulting in increasing numbers of orphans
  • Poor infrastructure resulting in water shortages, sporadic and unpredictable electricity supply, poor driving conditions into Coffee Bay, loss of cell network coverage and limited internet access
  • Apart from tourism outlets and businesses, the village of Coffee Bay is not yet connected to the electricity supply impacting on the ability of children and adults to study in the home

The traditional Xhosa lifestyle in Coffee Bay is one of the aspects that draw tourists to the area. However collecting water, wood and cooking on open fires traditionally undertaken by women and children of the household creates a lot of time consuming and heavy work, again impacting on the time children can spend learning in the home.

5 thoughts on “About Coffee Bay

  1. Hi Dawn! Niall and I are coming to Coffee Bay From the 9th to the 19th of September. I would like to have a meeting with Dr Ebyee , the community leaders and the chief of the area . As i would like to open a Primary Health Clinic and Basic Health education in the area .
    We would also like to teach the community basic subsistance framing and better life conditions in helping scholers with after school projects. ie wood work, sewing, needlework, gardening, bead work .
    My dream is to help the people in the area to follow there dreams to a better future for all .

    Not sure when Wil is arriving in Coffee Bay as I would like to meet him as well. Could you please let me know if these dates are suitable for
    all the meetings .

    Awaiting your reply.

    Olga and Niall

  2. Hi Dawn! Niall and I are going to arrive on the 10th September in the afternoon, we will be staying in the caravan park in Coffee Bay. Could you please confirm meetings. We would like to bring Fruit trees for Mapuzi Per-Primary School. Could you please let me know how many fruit trees we can plant in the School.

    Regards Olga
    niallolga@vodamail.co.za or 0796947333

  3. It’s shame that we can’t be proud about our Coffee Bay:
    -We don’t have electricity
    -We don’t have proper access road
    -We don’t houses
    -Majority of people is unemployed
    -Few people who are educated abandoned their homes and went to suburbs.
    -Political leader are taking control of everything and everything that is supposed to benefit community.

    I humble myself to all those who can assist to assist to rescue this beautiful place. We ask investors to come and assist to develop the economy of this area!

  4. I feel painful to see other places developing while COFFEE BAY is still a worst poorest place in the KSD MUNICIPALITY, it’s a place along the coast where tourists use to be but has no infrastructure.

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