BBL PARTICIPANT: Josphina Mamacebo Matolo, Tsakane, Gauteng

In a Nutshell

Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Josphina Mamcebo Matolo from Tsakane has regained her health and confidence in the future. She is a great believer in the power of gardening to make boys into good men.

She says…

Josphina Mamacebo

I grew up in Parys. When I was a child, my mother’s garden had pumpkins, beans, mielies, spinach, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes and so much more. I remember loving being in that garden with my mum and my two sisters. While we worked, we would sing gospel songs.

When you have a garden, cooking becomes a pleasure. Vegetables from the shops are okay, but straight from the garden tastes better. My mum used to cook potatoes and morogo bean leaves and a little sprinkle of white pepper together – it is such a simple recipe, but when those vegetables are picked from your own earth just before cooking, it is beautiful.

I came to Gauteng in 2002 and for many years I didn’t garden. I came back to gardening when I was struggling to survive. When you are in the middle of a terrible time, you have no choice but to keep going, so I did keep going, but it was very difficult. I look back now and I wonder how I did it. I was sick and I had small children who needed me. I had no support, and I was pregnant. I started to garden because I was trying to improve my health. I was living in Brakpan, and I was very thin and unhealthy, so I started growing China spinach which I made into tea. That tea soothed my stomach and put vitamins into my body. That was the first step on my road back to gardening and my road back to health. I am feeling much better these days, but I still drink spinach water. I sometimes mix it with mint too. I dry spinach and other leaves too so that I can make those teas all year round.

"I started a garden because I was trying to improve my health."

"I know that my sons will be better men..."

I came here to Tsakane in 2016. My neighbours told me about SocioTech and the training I got from them helped increase my yields. Good soil is so important and the knowledge of how to make great soil was what I got through my training. My boys are now 12 and 14 so they are a big help. They dig and plant and water the garden with me and when the crops are ready, they walk around the streets selling from a plastic bath. My younger son likes to play, and I can see that he is not so keen, but my 14-year-old says that he wants to be a farmer when he grows up. Who knows what the future will bring.

I got my tunnel in April. It has made a big difference. Sun, rats, hail, birds all those things can attack plants, so having a tunnel to protect against those elements is a big deal. I have planted peach trees and apple trees. The peaches are ready and in summer I like to can the fruit. The apple tree is still small and young, but I see it as an investment in the future.

I cannot properly express how important my garden has been in my life. It has taken me from hunger and allowed me to build the foundations of a better life. Even if you have no money in your purse, so long as there is a garden, you know that there will be something to eat. And while there are crops you can sell, you know you can save money.

I know that my sons will be better men because they have had the experience of working with me in the garden. That work is teaching them to be men. They understand self-sufficiency. They know not to ask for handouts. They know to work for themselves. This means they will never need to feel shame

Josphina Mamacebo
Josphina Mamacebo