Three young people from Matole basin in the Amathole District Municipality of the Eastern Cape Province are on a mission to mobilise other youths in their village to produce their own food and incomes from the land. For them, charity begins at home. They have their own flourishing garden; “we are growing carrot, beetroot, cabbage, onions spring onions, herbs, potatoes and mielies”, aimed at selling off to supermarkets to generate income. The garden is borrowed from their parents. The youths believe that going to school, getting a career, and exposure to the world of professional work, city and township life made them realise the value of having access to productive land and working it. They confess that farming is not easy work. Living in urban/township settings for a long time, they had forgotten the skills and practices of working the land and rural life. Despite this, they believe in working for themselves and shun dependency. They observed that “the youths are entitled to things. It’s the thinking that if you want something then someone has to give it to you”.

These youths got out of this trap through self-reflection and mentoring by caring older mentors doing successful farming in their village. They describe their mentor as “what you would call inter-generational, like someone who understands older people and who also understands my age. It’s easy to have that relationship like talk with her… we don’t struggle to joke. She is that person you can learn from without intimidation”. This inspiring story is one of many, however we do need a growth in respect for agriculture from young people in our country.

By Tichaona Pesanayi