When award-wining stand-up comedian and celebrity chef Carl Joshua Ncube and his wife Nelsy Ncube first announced their idea to build a mobile home, many tags were cast on them. Some thought it was jest, others called them broke with another group labelling them mentally challenged.
Who can blame people of limited creativity as this was a new concept none had come across in a country where camping is done only for a few days or weeks when one is on holiday, but never as a permanent lifestyle.
After all, Hollywood movies depict trailer parks as homes for the uncultured low lives and the poorest.
The Ncubes only opened their ears for constructive criticism.
They had their eyes set on an adventure; one that is now taking shape and could probably see them rolling in style as they tour South Africa in August.
“When we moved back to Zimbabwe in 2017, we knew economic recovery would take some time so the initial initiative was to move to Victoria Falls because it allowed for me to still be able to do my comedy performances internationally but also be able to perform for an audience with a capacity of earning foreign currency which is helpful for someone constantly on tour like me.
“Moving to Victoria Falls was the first step. Next was to figure out how to live off grid, and that is when we came up with the idea of starting Camp Feel Good, which is a mobile camp.
“The idea is, we own a number of tents and people can come stay with us and we can earn some revenue that way. We thought if we had to sell that concept, we also needed to live it.
“Living in the tent was one of the first ways of living off grid. We then came up with an idea of building a mobile house that we could take around the country or even outside the country. That’s how it all started,” explained Carl.
Camp Feel Good is a concept that will teach the new generation about creativity, conservation and camping.
The camp will teach how to manage, use and make the most of the resources that inhabitants have to share on earth.
In February, through suggestions from friends who had seen them rant about their concept online, the couple approached Wild Horizons, a local tour operator who was getting rid of their old mini-bus.
They were given the bus for free.
“It was basically a shell with no engines but the seats were still there. We started stripping everything; gear-box, ceiling, and the floors; cleaning it out so we could start our built,” he said.
The Ncubes then put a structure that would hold everything they wanted to put in the bus.
“It starts off at the front end where the driver’s seat was, where we have put in a bed.
“The bed is followed by a lounge where we built an L-shaped couch. On the left side we have a stove and counter top. On the right, we have a sink and a fridge, a bit of counter space with overheard cabinets. In the back we will have a shower, toilet and washing machine,” said Carl.
Most of the carpentry and some electrical work has been done.
Once finished, the mobile home will have two solar panels with supporting power generation equipment, two fresh water tanks, a grey water tank (used water that can be re-purposed), a toilet, shower, and gas heater for the water among other necessities.
The couple had to move in early before their mobile home was finished because their tent was destroyed by baboons while they were away for work.
They, however, hope to finish building it by August.
“We should be able to totally live off the grid. We expect this to be a home that we can travel in.
“By August, we are supposed to have wheels on the bus and we are supposed to have a vehicle for the tour. We tour at our own time though there are some gigs along the way,” said Carl.
Ncube has comedy performances in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa in August.
This progress is testament to how with determination, many dreams can be achieved. The couple met challenges along the way.
“There are obviously a lot of challenges when you decide to embark on this off grid lifestyle. Firstly, people think you have run out of money, but it’s quite an expensive undertaking.
“We have had to move into a camp site, the equipment required to build this bus is expensive, the economy has been changing which has not been fortunate to us.
“We know there are a lot of hiccups along the way, but this kind of lifestyle is probably the best one that I would encourage a lot of people to follow.”
“The challenges have been there but the reason why we have done this is because of the challenges that would come being in such a volatile economy like Zimbabwe’s.”
The Ncubes were fortunate to meet partners like Wild Horizons who gave them the bus, Masters Paint and Hardware who gave them material to use on their bus, and Rest Camp who allowed them to build the mobile home within their camp site.
With their story being told on various social media platforms, a lot of interest has been generated.
Many people now approach them to get an understanding of what their concept is about.
“We are framing ourselves as story tellers wanting to tell a positive African story. We want to talk about the positives from Africa. Doing so has resonated with a lot of people on
line, seeing the choices that we have made and why we have made those choices.
“We try to always tell people that this is about living off grid, living sustainably; it’s about not being reliant on the system (paying rent and rates, working nine to five, the rat race).
“If we take a leaf from the book of some of our rural folk you will notice that living off grid is not a bad thing after all,” said Carl.