Abandoned Swaziland’s Bulembu revived

2012-03-23 08:59
Bulembu - In reviving Bulembu, a Swazi town abandoned a decade ago when its asbestos mine closed, the new town fathers are helping hundreds of orphans and building their own utopia in the process.

Bulembu is a private town, owned by a Canadian evangelical Christian charity - called Bulembu Ministries - and stretching over 1 700 hectares. Only the police station and the road leading to South Africa remain public land.

Their goal is to survive self-sufficiently, like a "Christian kolkhoz" in the mountains of this tiny kingdom. They run a sawmill, a dairy, a bakery, crafts and even bee-keeping.

The goal of self-sufficiency is as important as helping the orphans, said Andrew Le Roux, who runs the charity.

The dirt road connecting Bulembu to the rest of Swaziland is so bad that the postal service doesn't even bother trying. South Africa is 2km away, on a paved but winding road.

And that route requires a border crossing, which doesn't handle merchandise and closes at 16:00.

Once 10 000 people lived in the mining town, which boasted a cinema, sports grounds, a supermarket, several grocers, a bank, a post office, golf, bars, a brewery and two churches.

Now the town's 1 400 residents have just one small grocery store selling essential goods, and a community bakery. They can choose from seven churches.

There's no alcohol, either at the guesthouse or on the grocery store shelves. The bars never re-opened in this town, whose official motto is "serving Jesus Christ by restoring hope to the people of Swaziland".

Unemployment, at 40% in Swaziland, is almost non-existent in Bulembu, where anyone with a job is given a house.

The sawmill or dairy workers don't necessarily subscribe to the same ideals, but desperate for work, they accept their pious surroundings. And sometimes they sip from their own homemade beer.

The children receive a religious education at the Christian Academy of Bulembu.

In a nation ravaged by Aids, the youth are taught abstinence. Sex is banned for as long as children live at the orphanage, but they're still told about condoms, the teachers say.

Read more on:    swaziland  |  southern africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy

Miley's new dog is too adorable.



13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher
The unusual pets of Instagram
Bertie sets a new world record!

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The Leo moon adds an element of drama and entertainment. A significant person that you may consult or confide in may play an...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.