Lovely Beyond Any Singing Of It "There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it. The road climbs seven miles into them, to Carisbrooke; and from there, if there is no mist, you look down on one of the fairest valleys of Africa".
These are the opening lines of the book 'Cry the Beloved Country', written by Alan Paton, which caused Ixopo to became world-famous.
Ubuhlebezwe is well located from a regional perspective within southern KwaZulu-Natal between Pietermaritzburg, Kokstad and the Eastern Cape. Ixopo is located on the cross-roads linking Pietermaritzburg and the Eastern Cape and Highflats and the coastal towns with the Drakensberg. Ixopo is accessible from a good quality Provincial Main Road. The nearest airport is the regional airport at Pietermaritzburg, while international flights operate from DurbanInternationalAirport.
Economy The importance of Ixopo cannot be underestimated in the socio-economic development of the area as a whole. Ixopo's court, magistrates, hospital and banks serve the district. It is a major education and health centre and assists in the diffusion of new ideas and technologies to the rural areas. There is a thriving bus and taxi business serving the rural surrounds and linking with Durban and Pietermaritzburg. The town comprises retail enterprises including supermarkets, petrol outlets, liquor store, post office and motor spares and repair shops.
The Municipality is well endowed with natural and physical resources and has immense potential for the development of agricultural industries, tourism and other commercial enterprises.
Agriculture The dominant agricultural activities in the sub-region are sugar cane production and forestry. Sugar cane production activities are concentrated in the coastal areas to the east of Highflats. Sugar cane produced in these areas is delivered primarily to the new Eston Mill. Forestry is one of the major land-uses in the area.
Citrus has been identified as a major potential agricultural crop in the future. Land adjacent to the UmzimkhuluRiver has been planted and a packaging plant for export and the local market. A multi-million rand scheme has been approved for the empowerment and development of previously disadvantaged farmers. Beef and dairy products are important contributors to agricultural production in the area. Subsistence agriculture, although having a limited potential to impact on future development in the area, is important in the context of sub-regional development. The crops typically grown by subsistence farmers and households are mielies, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and madumbes. A variety of vegetables are also grown in these areas. Cash cropping activities also takes place.
Tourism One of the key challenges is to increase Ubuhlebezwe's role as a tourist destination and to attract an increasing amount of the passing tourist trade. The town of Ixopo serves a one of the key focal points for tourism as it is located in an area which has a lot of history as well as many existing and potential tourist attractions. These include:
The narrow gauge railway;
Conservation & game viewing;
Bed and Breakfast establishments;
A tourism association has been established to promote the region and a tourism route has been established in order to promote the attractions.
Historical and other places of Interest The Alan Paton Valley (Carisbrooke), Mariathal Mission, Alan Paton House, Qunu Falls, Umko White Water Adventures, Mats Art Studio (landscapes, seascapes, wildlife in watercolours, oils and pastels), Tim Quirke Art Studio (portraits in oils and pastels), St. Isidore Mill Museum (antique mill equipment).
Buddhist Retreat Centre The beautiful Buddhist Retreat Centre, which is open to members of all religious faiths holds a variety of weekend retreats on various subjects and is well worth a visit. Nearby are the breeding sites of the rare Blue Swallow of which the Endangered Wildlife Trust has appointed the BRC a custodian. Their presence, together with the BRC's commitment to encouraging the indigenous biodiversity of the area, has led to the Centre being declared a Natural Heritage Site by former President Nelson Mandela.
"To improve the quality of life of all its citizens by providing basic affordable services, a safe and healthy environment, eradication of poverty and maintaining the scenic beauty of this land."
Mission UbuhlebezweMunicipality will strive to deliver an appropriate level of services to all our citizens by the year 2015 and alleviate poverty by promoting sustainable development whilst providing good governance and being transparent and accountable to the public.
Municipal Demarcation Board code KZN434
Location of Head Office: Ixopo is 96 km west of Scottburgh (R612) and 86 km south of Pietermaritzburg (R56)
Municipal Area (km2): 1 627.18
Contributes to: Harry Gwala District Municipality
Towns within the municipal boundaries: Highflats, Ixopo, Vulamehlo.
The name Ixopo is a Zulu word whose meaning is debated and the "x" of which is a click that most English speakers find difficult to pronounce. It is also thought that the word refers to the squelching noise made by cattle as they try to extricate their hooves from the marshy soil or is the Zulu word for 'The beauty of the country'