BBL PARTICIPANT: Petrus Msimango, Machipe, Mpumalanga

In a Nutshell

Through his participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Petrus Msimango from Machipe added to his food gardening skills in ways that have made him better able to cope with a severe water shortage. He is convinced that it is eating fresh fruit and vegetables every day that keeps him happy and healthy.

He says…

Petrus Masimango

I have skills from way back. I learnt how to plough and look after livestock when I was so young that I didn’t even know I was learning. I helped my family grow food before I went to school. It has always been both a duty and a joy in my life.

I like the feeling of seeing something through from start to finish. I feel satisfied when I have done a garden task properly. In fact, I don’t like it if people try and help me in my garden. This is my space. I want to do it all myself so that I can be sure it is done right. I dig every hole for every plant. My wife goes into the garden and takes vegetables to cook for us to eat, but the actual garden work is down to me. That is my area.

That same attitude is how I act in all areas of my life. When I start a task, I am determined to do it correctly and see it through to the very end successfully. This house you see here. Money from the provident fund put in the foundations and I didn’t know where the next money would come from, but I had faith. I said to myself when I die, my body mustn’t come out of a shack and through God’s grace this lovely house has been built. I think my success has had an influence on other people in the community, because I am visibly disabled and if I can do it, anyone can.


"That same attitude is how I act in all areas of my life."

Water has been a big problem this year. Sometimes we have water. Sometimes not. You can’t grow vegetables that way. I have maize, spinach, green peppers, chilies, onions in the ground and they are surviving through my hard work, but it is dry, dry, dry. Through doing MyFood training with SocioTech I learnt the trench bed system and that has improved the soil quality. I think that is part of why my crops are still surviving, but it has been hard. I don’t yet have a net, so the sun beats down hard on these plants.

I persevere because I believe that I owe my health and happiness to the vegetables I grow. Every day I must eat at least one thing from my garden. Even if it’s something small. Like yesterday it was a tomato and onion gravy. If I don’t get that one thing, I feel uncomfortable. I must have at least one thing.

They say apple a day keeps doctor a way. I am living proof of that. When I left my job at the mines the doctors there gave me a long list of all the pills I would need. They said that my hands were crippled, and I would have pains, but I don’t drink any medicine. I am self-doctoring by living a healthy life.

When I retired, they said I had maybe 2 years of life but that was 2004 and now almost 20 years later I am still healthy, afraid of nothing. I have a 100% full life.  I say 100% but there is one thing I would still want. I would like to add a few goats to my homestead. I have cleared a space and I am saving towards that goal.




Petrus Masimango 2
Petrus Masimango 1