The Mandela Legacy

I was watching the news last week when word came that Nelson Mandela had passed away.  A giant of a man and leader he changed the way people think and he changed South Africa.  Once a repressive state ruled by a tyrannical white minority under a system of segregation called Apartheid, Mandela led the African National Congress’ opposition and he spent 27 years as a political prisoner.

Influenced by the non -violent philosophy of Ghandi he successfully led the movement to dismantle Apartheid peacefully and then courageously established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose mission was not to punish or take vengeance.

I’m old enough to remember the movements here for divestiture.  This was a way to put pressure on South Africa by forcing investors, pension plans and endowments to sell their investments in South Africa.  Students on college campuses led sit-ins and demonstrations to convince their Boards of Trustees and others to divest themselves of stock, bonds and other South African related investments.  When legislation was passed in Congress enacting trade sanctions the bill was vetoed by President Reagan and leading American racists like Jesse Helms and Dick Cheney led the fight for the white government of South Africa.

Justice prevailed however and Nelson Mandela was elected President of that nation after it reorganized.  He passed away after a long and very distinguished life having touched souls all around the globe.  Rest well Mandiba, you’ve earned it.

In South Africa, Investing In Urban Farming

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

Soweto in Johannesburg, South Africa is most well known as the scene of massive protests and violence under Apartheid. Today, it is place of contradictions. While many of South Africa’s wealthiest citizens live there, it’s also a community plagued by poverty. Many of the residents live in shacks with tin roofs and don’t have running water or electricity. But like the residents of other cities in Africa, including Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi (See Vertical Farms: Finding Creative Ways to Grow Food in Kibera and Farming on the Urban Fringe), the residents of Soweto are growing foods, including cabbage, kale, spinach, and other vegetables in their yards.

While Johannesburg doesn’t have an official policy supporting urban agriculture, the government in Cape Town, South Africa has invested $5 million rand ($671,670 USD) to help the city’s poorest residents grow vegetables and fruits and raise livestock.

Stay tuned for more on urban agriculture as I travel to other cities in sub-Saharan Africa.