“Saving your own seed is so important and so is sharing knowledge with others.” said Ntombenhle Mtambo in her address to participants in the first ever SEEDS izimBewu Film Festival held in Howick last weekend. She added, “We need to help old people in their gardens because we can learn so much from them and we can pass this knowledge to the children.” The Mpophomeni Conservation Group (MCG) were one of the sponsors of a long weekend featuring international and local thought-provoking films, talks about seeds, rivers and family farming. All intended to inspire positive changes in society and in our relationship to the natural environment and to each other. Groups from Venda, Pondoland and the ‘Berg participated in a seed exchange during the opening session titled Seeds of Freedom, to symbolise the important role seeds play in our lives. Sandy Wright contributed ugati gati – traditional coloured maize which she has grown in the Karkloof with the MCG and other participants. Penz Malinga “This seed exchange was the best thing and I really enjoyed the showcasing of indigenous knowledge.” Tutu Zuma, who already saves her own seed, is inspired to start a seed bank of traditional varieties – she is particularly looking for a big white bean which she knows as ‘Bom Bom’. Singegugu Zukhulu of Pondoland talked about traditional methods of food growing, storage and preparation from that area and related some of the interesting names which the various coloured maize has. A speckled brown and cream variety is known as “dog’s gums” in Xhosa. Nevhutanda Nkhetheni, a Venda Chief, talked about the sacredness of seeds and the importance of saving heirloom seed. Ntombenhle “I was so impressed with the MaVenda Chief, we spent a lot of time talking to that group. He told us that they teach young and old not to lose their tradition. I agree, it is so important that we save seeds so people will have an easier life. If we support, care, respect and listen each other we will bring back sunshine to every village door.” Tutu thoroughly enjoyed the short film made by Howick residents Keran Ducasse and Bruce Hayes called ‘Grass Eaters’. “It taught me that we must plant food instead of grass. It was great to be part of this experience.” Tutu is keen to start keeping bees after watching Queen of the Sun and listening to Jessica Dreamtime’s presentation on the importance of bees in our world. Sandy Wright (who is an active permaculture farmer) was really pleased to meet the enthusiastic and energetic members of the MCG and looks forward to working with them in future.
The second day of the festival focussed on water as it was World Water Day. The uMngeni River Walk movie, made by Sphiwe Mazibuko was shown for the first time in public. The film tracks the team’s month long journey, featuring some of the joys and horrors they encountered along the way. Penz Malinga was part of that intrepid team who have had such a big impact on river awareness in our province since. “All the films highlighted the environmental crisis we face and emphasised that we should work together towards sustainability for the future of our planet.” said Penz. Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Program Director of the organisation International Rivers attended the premeire. “I really liked the River Walk initiative and in particular the documentary. It makes the issues real and in a simple way explains the impacts of human activity on the rivers. Well done, good work.”
Ayanda Lipheyana concludes: “The festival was wonderful. I meet different people and I learned new things, especially about beekeeping and the underground house (isisele) where food and seeds can be kept. I was amazed at the way the women greet their elders in the Venda tradition. Most of the information I received was new to me. It was a wonderful experience.” www.midlandsconservancies.org.za/memmpop.php www.midlandsconservancies.org.za/resilience.php www.midlandsconservanciesforum.wordpress.com/2013/08/25/green-grant-builds-resilience-in-mpophomeni/