“Some people think rural life means you are poor. We are not poor. We are dependent on ourselves here, we don’t want to become a basket case and depend on the government to take care of us. As long as we have our land we can look after ourselves,” – Nokwakha Mboyisa, Nyavini Village resident.
The Amadiba people are one of a few rural peasant communities in South Africa that have never been uprooted from their land and continue to farm successfully according to traditional methods of agriculture. Large tracts of land are utilized as grazing for cattle and provide sufficient manure to fertilize fields and gardens. Farmers save their seeds. Homesteads enjoy a higher degree of food security than many other areas in South Africa, despite this municipality being categorised as one of the poorest in the country.
The residents of the Amadiba coastal villages are proud and passionate farmers who defy being labelled poor. In the words of local resident Nonhle Mbuthuma: “We fish and farm. We raise chickens and grow lots of vegetables. We have cattle for weddings and traditional rituals. We are not among the quoted one out of four South Africans who go hungry to bed.”
The threat of losing their land to mining has intensified the commitment of many farmers to intensify their farming efforts and has resulted in higher yields of staple crops which are sold as surplus.
Climate change projections suggest that Eastern Mpondoland is one of the areas in South Africa that will still receive adequate rainfall into the future, and this valuable arable land needs to be kept in the protective custody of the resilient farming families that have occupied their land for centuries.
“This field is my bank for university fees. White people go to banks in buildings but, for us, our land is our bank. With the money I make from selling sweet potatoes in Durban, I will be able to pay for my son’s university fees.” Malombo Dlamini, Amadiba farmer and sweet potato trader.