Sbu Goqo of Inanda township at Ematikwe is now a successful businessman and owner of the shisa nyama at Sbu’s Lounge.
Sbu Goqo of Inanda township at Ematikwe is now a successful businessman and owner of the shisa nyama at Sbu’s Lounge.

DURBAN: IT HAS a distinct township flavour and vibe; it’s hot, it’s spicy and it draws huge crowds.
Another fired-up edition of the Shisa Nyama Awards and Festival, which has the backing of Durban Tourism and SABC’s Ukhozi FM, is expected at the Eyadini Lounge in uMlazi, south of Durban, next weekend.

Revellers will sample the tasty offerings from five finalists who are all hoping to be named Durban’s Best Shisha Nyama outlet, while they bop to music at the two-day festival.

The five venues vying for bragging rights are: Unique Lounge, uMhlanga; Seaman’s Corner Restaurant and Bar, Hammarsdale; The Joint Beach & Jazz Cafe, South Beach, Durban, Sbu’s Lounge, Inanda, and Cafe Skyzer, Chesterville.

“This event helps to shine a spotlight on the innovation and entrepreneurship happening in the townships.

“Each year we get the opportunity to discover and promote more venues and their owners to a South African audience who love finding out about new shisa nyamas,” said Michelle Lewis, the event’s founder .

She said professional advertising and promotions that attracts further investment from the corporate private sector are some of the spin-offs for the township entrepreneurs.

And the inaugural Shisa Nyama Indaba, which happens on Friday, is a networking event, created especially to introduce black-owned businesses to one another along the supply chain.

“We’ve invited farmers, abattoirs, butchers, shisa nyama venues and caterers.”

Sbu Goqo, 37, the owner of one of Inanda’s best known social hubs, Sbu’s Lounge, is in the running yet again for top prize after placing third in 2016.

The concept has not only furthered his entrepreneurial instincts but it has given him a platform to empower the less fortunate in his community.

Goqo’s is a classic rags to riches story. From being a street kid, he quickly grabbed the opportunities that came his way and turned his life around.

Living in a broken home got the better of Goqo, who took to street life when he was 10. But a Chatsworth businessman, who he knows as Hassan, noticed Goqo was unlike the other kids on Durban’s streets, took him in and gave him a lifeline.

“Hassan got me to help with his vegetable stall at the Montford shopping mall, that’s when I became business minded,” said Goqo.

After three years away from his family, Goqo returned to Inanda and lived with his mother, who was a food vendor at a taxi rank, and his sisters.

He went back to school, but working for his uncle, who was a motor mechanic and a jack of all trades, interested him.

“My uncle never paid me a cent for my work but he promised that what I learnt from him would empower me for life.”

Goqo and a friend started their own car repair business before he ventured on his own.

He opened a motor spares shop on a vacant patch of land in Inanda in 2005. Other streams of revenue sprung up for Goqo from that business, as he added a car wash, tyre repairs and a tuck shop to his operations.

However, there were a persistent calls from his customers to start a shisha nyama outlet, much like uMlazi’s Max Lifestyle Lounge and Shadows in Clermont, which he resisted.

With the Fifa 2010 World Cup in the pipeline, Goqo relented and Sbu’s Lounge was born in 2009. It was a hit and grew in popularity and size. While Sbu’s Lounge is flourishing, Goqo’s next business venture is likely to be a workshop to fix and rebuild cars.

But his long-term goal is to open an orphanage.