African Women Organize to Reclaim Agriculture Against Corporate Takeover

Farmer and activist Mphatheleini Makaulele on reviving African agricultural values

Mphatheleini Makaulele is an award-winning indigenous leader, farmer, and activist, and Director of Dzomo la Mupo, a community organization in rural South Africa. 


Dzomo la Mupo means the Voice of Earth and was founded by Makaulele in 2008. It exists alongside the Mupo Foundation as a group of community members protecting sacred sites, ecosystems and traditional agricultural practices. They have led several campaigns to protect their environment, including campaigns against the Australian mining company Coal of Africa, and registering sacred forests as protected areas under the South African Heritage Resources Agency.


Mphatheleini Makaulele says, 'Commercial farming has dominated traditional farming and food sovereignty, too. It looks only at money as the end product. The seeds depend on chemicals and don't grow following the ecological, natural flow. Chemical seeds and fertilizers make the soil dry like a crust, like plywood. Our soil is damaged and dry. Our natural seeds that germinated on their own no longer grow in that soil. And this problem is causing the loss of natural foods and traditional farming systems, making our food sovereignty vanish.[...]


Women are the alternative. We need to revive our technical methods [of farming] through permaculture or agroecology. Even though the soil has been damaged by chemical fertilizers and chemical seeds, there is opportunity to rebuild, harvest, compost, and work the soil to become alive again.


The women of Dzomo la Mupo are bringing food sovereignty to their families. In our home gardens, called muse, and our fields called tsimu, we teach children that food comes from soil, not the market shelves.'


Makaulele is also part of the African Biodiversity Network that is also looking at the issues facing Africa, women, and traditional agricultural practice.


Beverly Bell and Simone Adler conducted an interview with Mphatheleini Makaulele: 



IWE Berlin, 11.01.2016



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