Not in My Name International partners with Thulani Ndlovu Foundation

Not in My Name International has recently launched anurban-township farming initiative together with the ThulaniNdlovu Foundation. The initiative has the mandate to push-start a farming project in the Pretoria-East Township of Mooiplas situated between Mamelodi and suburban Silverlakes. The area is a newly developed informal settlement which caters for a majority unemployed community with very little skills. The project is propelled by deepening hunger levels that the organisations are exposed to in the work they do in community outreaches, including in Mooiplas. The Not In My Name Int food parcel and soup drive has indicated that hunger has become the order of the day in many townships and urban areas, sabotagingproductivity and efforts to escape poverty. An enthusiastic Thulani , founder of the Thulani Ndlovu Foundation,  says : “#ThulaniNdlovuFoundation truly believes that our food garden initiative will be a direct boost and a blessing to our feeding scheme programme (TNFNutrition20 ™) in 3 ways – growing our own organic vegetables that would provide nutrients to our beneficiaries, it will boost us during some dry season of donations to assure a meal a day for each child and lastly it is a skill transfer project in the agricultural sector forour volunteers”.

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Urban-township farming is a concept of space and rethinking the use of different spaces.  The history of townshipsdesignates the township as labourer’s camps – whose mainpurpose in the economy is to offer mere labour with very little opportunity to emerge and participate in any other level of the food chain. Given the deepening levels of unemployment – it means that the labourer who is dumped in a township – has very little skill or means to maintain adequate well-being. People are now stuck in townships with architecture that has no imagination of productivity or stimulating means of income and sustainability. What presents as the only chance out of hunger and unproductivity, is the land around them. Urban-township farming reimagines who, where and why we can farm. What is previously known as a white man’s turf,assumes the face of a black women – who is confronted daily with being the primary caregiver and provider. What is previously reserved for large spaces of land acquired through racist-patriarchal institutionalization, can now take place in spaces which were meant to emphasis our position as acolonized people with no dignity and very little bread.  Whatcapitalism exploits for profit maximization is now imagined as a symbol of food security for the marginalized.

What would be a mere urban dweller, given the surge of urban poverty, can now be a productive citizen who exists in a communal set-up that brings the community together for common good because urban farming counters the alienationculture which sparks a depression and anxiety stricken society that has no awareness on how inequality and poverty are hardly personal problems, rather than societal. The program aims to dismiss a backward idea that the urban space is exclusive to those who have means, elaborate architecture, infrastructure and class association. It deconstructs the relationship that people have with space. While the urban areais often related to what we can offer it – the program presents an opportunity wherein the space can be as giving to those who labour it and make it what it is. It also enforces the existence of those who are previously deliberately excluded from spaces that they work and spaces that belong to them to. The coping-mechanism that comes with urban-farming speakto substantial measures that we can incorporate in long-term measures against land-apartheid, wherein we imagine the land being beneficial for all who live in – particularly the native who continue to be a marginalized majority. In the long run we imagine that the program can speak to the preparation towards land expropriation, for an inclusive agricultural sector, given that the program also encompasses an element ofskills training in agriculture and small-business management wherein goods are farmed enough to sell for income.

Lulama Sanyaka who is the head of programs for Nimniasserts that “the lesson derived from our food parcel and soup kitchen drives has consistently been the fact that we are providing  temporary solutions to a looming matter. Many of the communities that we have assisted need sustainable solutions. Education and training regarding food security is needed within these communities. People need to be educated about sustainable, self-sufficient food generating methods”. The sentiments cement the National Development Plan of 2030 which states “Expanding commercial agriculture has the potential to create 250 000 direct jobs and a further 130 000indirect jobs. This can be achieved by supporting agricultural subsectors with potential for long-term, sustainable expansion in production and value- adding processes. Expansion is driven not only by higher levels of productivity, but also by domestic/local demand.”

As we struggle through the Covid-19 pandemic, we must recognize poverty as a pandemic threatening the lives of many people due to the commodification of food and other basic needs. Herman Zikhali, NIMNI activists, warns that “what they all have in common is that people are hungry and poverty has taken its toll on everyone. Help is needed. And what we giving is temporary. Most of our people are unemployed and they all depend on any form of donations.“


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