Serapeng Sa Basadi is a Co-Operative of women that is involve with and promotes food production by employing indigenous farming methods of inter-crop planting (companion planting). Their indigenous methods of farming are advantageous in that with inter-cropping they have no need for artificial pesticides as with the relevant know-how one can, say, plant tomatoes with sweet basil to repel insects and also in so doing the tomato because of cross pollination absorbs the sweetness of the basil and is thus more nutritious and distinct from tomatoes farmed with the western method of monoculture. Other examples include onion with spinach, grains with groundnuts, etc. There is also nasturtium, which they highly recommend, which is a natural pest attracter that if planted with other vegetation will attract the insects to it and in the process leaving the other vegetation to thrive – nasturtium is edible and is known for treating tonsillitis and sinusitis.
Serapeng Sa Basadi discourages the use of artificial fertilizers as an aid in growing ones food and they recommend natural fertilizers like water from fish ponds because of the high nutrient content from the waste of the fish. There are other means of fertilizing plants such as the use of worm waste, and a variety of other species’ waste.
The food they grow is organic from organic methods. They are a group of three women that promote the culture of growing one’s food for one’s needs and they encourage people to develop spaces in their homes for food cultivation purposes. In a country that sees black people (the indigenous people), which is a majority of the population, mostly without land, they had the ‘privilege’ of having had their Co-Operative inherit about 2.5 ha of land bought from white settlers by their parents; an act that should never occur because we, as the indigenous people, cannot be paying white settlers who dispossessed us of that very land (how does that work?). The Co-Operative has, however, put the land to good use as they produce fresh food for the public using indigenous methods. And their success ought to rouse the interest of many indigenous people in seeking their land to put it to use as they see fit.
Land is the basis of culture, without which a people become vassals and vessels that harbour the culture of the dispossessors. There are exceptional cases like these women who still can cultivate the land, around urban areas at that, with the methods that were developed by our ancestors and preserved and passed on to be refined by us according to our needs.
Serapeng Sa Basadi is also housed under the Green House Project where they constantly engage with the public teaching individuals and groups from different walks of life; from school pupils to university students and other members of the community interested in farming.
Serapeng strongly believes in healthy means of growing food, as food that is grown in a healthy manner is a great source of physical and mental health. They do, as well, teach the public about what type of foods heal certain ailments but strongly advocate that healthy eating is the best form of preventing ailments. Good Wholesome food is a source of great health, and great health is a source of a greater life experience.
Serapeng Sa Basadi doesn’t just stop at cultivating the land, they also process their produce creating in the process items like organic skin-care, hair-care and health-care products. They call their line of products Mosikare which means protector or shield-er – an apt name given the fact that their products protect the skin (skincare range), hair (haircare range) and health (healthcare range); as well as our communities by producing in the first place products by black people that can be consumed by black people. The Co-Operative has a great relationship with Megatong Nursery (whom we have featured on their beekeeping enterprise) whence they source the beeswax they use as an ingredient in their products – beeswax is renowned for its healthy properties, so it’s good health all round; an organic affair.
They even cook their products with a technology that uses green energy. The inputs to the technology they use include cow dung as well as a variety of vegetation. It therefore emits no harmful by-products to the atmosphere. See picture below.
They manufacture cooking bags that they call Smanga bags that when you have already put you pot to the boil you can then remove it and seal it inside these Smanga bags and the bags will seal in the heat at same temperature for up to 8 hours so that whatever is inside the pot continues to cook saving you energy. Once you’ve sealed the bag you shouldn’t open it until the cooking is done, it is therefore advisable to cook foods like rice and samp that do not need stirring during the cooking process. They are used as well for baby bottles. They can be used to keep cool items at the same temperature as well. The bags are made of polysterene.
Serapeng proclaims that theirs is to retain to the ways of our ancestors and promote that culture so that it may be practised by many others and those yet to come. One ought not to read this as implying arrested development or being stuck on yesteryears as the work that Serapeng is doing shows that one can go back for the purpose of advancing to a better tomorrow. It is growing from that spirit that is of great importance. Izimbokodo! Ba tshwara thipa ka bohaleng.
By Themba Ka Mhlanga