Thembanani Magazi - A man of note

Field guide, environmental educationist, bird authority and Skipper - Thembanani Magazi - has been an integral part of Century City, and in particular Intaka Island, since 2003.

< Back to Blogs
Date 01 September 2017
Author Tatum Sieni
Contact Email info@centurycity.co.za
Contact Telephone +27 21 552 6889

Born in Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, Thembanani came to Cape Town after he matriculated. He resides with his wife, Phakama, and 8-month-old son, Alunamda, in Kwezi Park, Khayelitsha. Their two older children – Liyema (eight years) and Alungile (12) – are schooled in the Eastern Cape but return home in the holidays. 

His first job was as a security guard on Intaka Island but after two years he joined the CCPOA and he and two others – Bennett Friedman and Sikhumbuzo Mbewu -  were made responsible for access control to the wetlands reserve. In those days they worked out of a wendy house and, unlike now where visitor numbers to Intaka exceed 30 000 a year, there were only a handful of guests.

Bored beyond tears, they approached the  CCPOA  management who bought them some books on birds and they began teaching themselves in their down time. They were also assisted by Gerald Windgate, the former chairman of the Tygerburg Bird Club, who took them to different bird reserves around the Peninsula to learn how to identify birds.

In 2006, Sikhumbuzo  and Bennett did a bird course through Bird Life South Africa and two years later Thembanani was sent on a 10 week course to learn about birds at Nature College in Riversdale on the Garden Route.

“That was truly a life changer for me,” says Thembanani.

He followed this up with a Skippers Course in 2008 which enabled him to be able to take visitors for scenic rides on the canals around Century City.

In 2013, he resumed his studies when the CCPOA sponsored him to do a 30-month National Certificate Course on Environmental Education, a leanership programme organised via the City of Cape Town and WESSA.

Then in 2015 he achieved his fourth certificate – this time for a Cape Peninsula Tourist Guide course – which was also sponsored by the CCPOA.

All these new skills and qualifications he puts to good use as part of the Intaka Island Eco-Centre’s environmental education programme.

On any given day, Thembanani can be seen educating groups of school children – from Grade R to matric –  about the environment and the flora and fauna of Intaka Island or taking groups by boat around Century City enthralling them with the history of the area and entertaining anecdotes about  some of the buildings and people living and working in the precinct. His easy going nature and warm personality coupled with his passionate commitment to his work, has groups of all ages spell bound.

Thembanai’s thirst for knowledge knows no bounds and he is currently doing a three month Supervisors’ Course. Where to from here?

“Only God knows,’’ he quips.