Mike came to Knysna for a 3 day visit in 2009. He never left:) He realized that falling in love with the town’s beauty also meant committing to it with positive action.
The largest responsibility he’d carried was as a liason to 72 offices in South Africa which he visited every monthly, passing on helpful info to offices in need, assessing complaints and catching stock thieves. Those trips extended to Namibia, Uganda, Egypy, Kenya, Swaziland and Lesotho. He sought a more meaningful and alternative life which garnered a decade’s experience in the rock ‘n roll music industry as an event organizer, band promoter, booking agent, DJ and CD compiler.
He initiated the GRUM (Garden Route Ubuntu Music) project which sought to add the joy of music to the local community as well as train event organizers from disadvantaged backgrounds. With the assistance of Knysna Tourism, he’s held 2 successful Eventing Workshops and run a meeting with leaders to discover what eventing challenges their communities face as well as what they want. Mike is 100% opposed to workshops that are BEE window dressing without practical usage. Consequently, when Knysna Tourism’s then CEO, Shaun van Eck, failed to keep his promise that the workshops would lead to using the best students in the field during events such as the Pick ‘n Pay Oyster Festival, Mike began asking questions about budgets and the then white-only Knysna Tourism Board. When he was stonewalled by Tourism and the new DA, he launched The KEEP (or Knysna Keep as it’s come to be known) as a search for truth. Shaun van Eck has since been disgraced and dismissed.
Trips into the township (he prefers the word “community”) made him realize that he needed to work with a broader vision.
THE KEEP was initiated to take on the tough challenges whilst Love Knysna! represents the beauty of the town. Knysna Schools is a directory providing more information about local schools. Knysna Website Design aims to get Knysna online through low cost yet professional looking websites. Knysna Crime Watch keeps an eye on local crime and police corruption. Love Knysna Projects is the newest and closest to his heart. It seeks multi-cultural understanding and the growth of the spirit in Knysna children. The goal is that these projects eventually unite into a single, non-profit charity.
Most call him Wicked Mike, a nickname that, he laughs, “Isn’t evil but one that i earned a long time ago for being a straight talker.”
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One of the most dismaying facts about Knysna is those who complain loudly behind closed doors but then act totally untrue when in public. Worse is the amount of people who will compromise their morals in the hope that they will get money from Knysna Tourism or the Knysna Municipality somewhere down the line. Present action is far more important than hope that may never deliver.
Knysna is in a misnamed “recession” that will be with us for a long time. There is no recovery to life as we knew it. The property boom was a false market. We need to adjust to reality. We need to fill the many empty holiday homes that we have whilst seeking to attract new business. By “new”, i mean that which does not conflict with that which we already have. No more building of holiday homes. No more malls etc.
If you are brave enough and believe that you can make a contribution to The KEEP, please contact me. Lawyers and accountants would undoubtedly be handy down the line but a simple desire to help your community “altruistically” is all that it takes. You can assist with transporting kids, providing information, venues, prizes, encouraging discussion etc.