What started off as a small restaurant to feed the locals has since led to a couple of initiatives to empower youth in different communities around Khayelitsha..
The simple menu of kota -a quarter loaf of bread filled with chips, polony, cheese and Russian sausages – and its subsequent success, earned Loyiso Basso the title of Kota King – and he is regarded as one of Khayelitsha’s rising businessmen.
An ambitious and persevering person since childhood, his smile mirrors his personality and character. Since starting KwaMgoli Restaurant in 2017, he has launched a couple of programmes for young people and is currently organising motivational talks for local Grade 12s.
His focus, he says, is on developing and mentoring boys because he feels there are already many programmes targeting girls.
“It all began with a small thought. I am a township man. I have been in and out of jail myself. I know how it is to be poor and hungry.
“But in 2008, I came to my senses and decided to go to church – of course, with an invite from a friend. I decided that it was enough. But it was not easy because I had enemies from my previous behaviour,” he tells Vukani.
He started his restaurant by selling pap and chakalaka. It failed. He tried Umngqusho and Umleqwa but that too failed. He then opted to steam bread and umleqwa and that too failed before he tried amagwinya.
Amagwinya, he said, never fails but he decided to change it to kota. And then the kota business grew into an idea to create job opportunities for youths and to connect the youths with “more educated people”.
“I am happy to make a difference in my area. Besides making money, I am happy that I can put a plate of food on other people’s tables.
“I know when you are not working, it is easy to do drugs. It is easy to stand at the corner of a street and rob people of their belongings. That is the reason I organise sessions for young people and try to help those that I can. Khayelitsha should be a place where people walk freely in the streets. That is my aim. I know it is small but it will, one day, it will spread big,” he said.
Among those he has mentored, is Daluxolo Nkonyana who spoke highly of his boss.
“He took me from nowhere. I used to stand in the corners of streets and rob people. But one day I came to him because I know his story. He made me take out chairs and tables. I did that with distinction.
“He later taught me to peel potatoes until I learned other skills of cooking. I am a chef myself. I now feed my parents. I am no longer doing drugs,” he said.
“This man is doing wonders for this community. He is brave enough to convince us to educate ourselves. He calls young people here to encourage them to do good,” he told Vukani.