The wonderful countryside beyond the Kei River, denuded as it has become over the centuries of all trees, is nonetheless blessed with deep dark fertile soil and could in fact feed the whole of South Africa – if the people themselves were geared for agricultural activity, which they are not – they are pastoralists – and if local, i.e. traditional cultural politics would not stand in the way. Millions of Rands have been invested in the development of agricultural schemes in the region where conglomerates of farmers were formed to make the undertaking feasible but with disappointing results. Driving through the rolling hills of Transkei, you see overgrown terraces and small patches where mealies are grown but no major agricultural activity. Money was spent alright – on posh motor cars for sure – and on seeds and all that, but the yields were not even covering the expenses. People here have been pastoralists for hundreds of years with only small scale farming for their own needs but never on a commercial scale.
Nonetheless, the countryside is beautiful, new schools are built by the dozen, freshly painted houses glow colourfully in the sun and there is an air of promise about the land.
With love from
Colleen & Walter
Mount Edgecombe, north of Durban
Friday, June 17, 2011