The Story of an amazing young leader: Nkukuleko Shelembe, Soweto Tour Guide

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The Story of an amazing young leader: Nkukuleko Shelembe, Soweto Tour Guide

Nkukuleko Shelembe, known as NK – Soweto Tour Guide

NK is a Soweto Tour Guide, Born in Durban and left behind at an early age by a young sick mother and an absent father, NK was rescued in Johannesburg by Ouma, a local Mother Teresa who, at the age of 26, opened a care center for street children called “Little Rose”.

 NK grew up in Little Rose surrounded by caring people, receiving shelter, sustenance and the love he needed to grow into a young adult. The idea behind Little Rose is to educate these young adults to take ownership and responsibility of Little Rose, thereby offering to the next generation of children what they themselves have received. NK has therefore naturally taken on this commitment towards younger street children and has become one of Little Rose’s “Role Models”. He studied Tourism at WITS University and worked as a guide for the “Soweto Bicycle Tour”.

 Upon meeting him during one such guided tour, we immediately realized that NK represents the type of young leader that will shape Africa’s future; he is engaged in his community, committed, hard-working, and resourceful. We wanted this incredible young leader to experience Up with People and have the opportunity to travel the world with 100 young people from 20 different countries. Up with People mixes theoretical studies with practical application in area of leadership, intercultural communication, service learning and the performing arts.

Having worked hard for 9 months to supplement the scholarship Up with People offered him, NK left South Africa for the first time in his life, spent 6 months traveling around the United States, Mexico, Sweden, Germany and Belgium. He is the first South African to join the international organization and proudly represented South Africa’s colors in the Up with People show ‘Voices’. Being part of this program was an incredible opportunity for him to grow and develop. He returned to his community with even more determination to show the way, act and help his country. Up with People has also enabled him to establish a vast network of relationships around the world.

Exposure to the world is the key to South Africa’s youth. Seeing, understanding, meeting, learning, and observing other ways of doing and thinking… NK returned more determined than ever to help his team get by, see further, dream higher rather than just thinking about daily survival.  A small example: NK now takes the children of Little Rose Centre to the library every Saturday morning. This enables the kids to read and expand their horizons.

 One might wonder why we would send a local boy from the townships to discover the world with Up with People… Meet him and you will get the answer: he brought back many interesting ideas, he learned how humanitarian aid works around the world, and he has enhanced his leadership skills to become an even more influential role model in his community. In addition, when he goes to see local authorities on behalf of the Little Rose Center, they encounter a young man full of experience and maturity, able to professionally communicate and share what he observed elsewhere.

NK spends a lot of time promoting Little Rose and connecting with people or associations able to help the Center. Thanks to his efforts, Little Rose is now supported by a Belgian NGO called “Shamalindi” that will contribute to a development project for the Centre, scheduled to begin in 2015.

NK, an outstanding guide By Quentin and Nathalie Schots

Since his return from Up with People in January 2014, NK decided to launch his own business in the field of tourism. He received the official papers (graduation from his Tourism studies had already given him official guide status) and his communication skills make him a poised, knowledgeable guide that people truly enjoy listening to.

It has now been a year and half since NK returned from Up with People. He splits his time between his work on a voluntary basis for Little Rose and the promotion of his tourism business. We live in Johannesburg and NK has taken us on dozens of guided tours. We send all our visitors and friends to him, and each time, our contacts share the same enthusiasm: NK is knowledgeable, speaks clearly and shares the story of his country with great passion!

In addition to his professionalism as a tour guide, he has great ease building a relationship with tourists, particularly because he has travelled to many parts of the world himself! Imagine an American family realizing that NK once had dinner at their favorite restaurant in their Colorado home town; Or a European hearing that this young guy walked on the paved streets of the Grand Place in Brussels… This creates an immediate and special connection between NK and his customers, thereby richly enhancing their experience!


Email for your Soweto Tour enquiries

nkuli soweto tour winnie mandela houseNkulitours examples:


driving in the inner city / Newtown precinct / Museum Africa / top of africa / the Apartheid Museum.  learn more about SA’s history when you visit the Apartheid Museum with a guided tour.


Soweto tour:

Pass by Vilakazi Street,

Hector Pieterson Memorial, and other historical places /local shebeen (bar) /and enjoy the vibrant culture of Soweto /visit Community project The Shalk.





Bicycle tours in soweto



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