BBL PARTICIPANT: Ramogohlo Concilliah Masweneng, Limpopo Aka Mama Melbourne
In a Nutshell
Through her participation in SocioTech’s Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) strategies to stimulate personal economic activity, Ramogohlo Masweneng has built her horticultural knowledge and practice.
She sells vegetable from her garden gate, and also has a side hustle selling sweets and ice creams to school children.
My real name is Ramogohlo, Concilliah Masweneng but everyone calls me ‘Mama Melbourne’ because my son’s name is Melbourne.
We have a tradition of geographical names in our family. It all started with my husband’s father who was very interested in world travel - he didn’t do very much actual travelling but he was interested in the idea of it – so he called his son (my husband) Mexico and his daughter (my husband’s sister) Philadelphia. My husband continued the tradition. Our first born is Nairobi and my last born is Melbourne.
The place where I live is called ‘Masanteng’. No one really knows why or how it got this name but we think maybe it is because the soil is very sandy here. This makes food gardening complicated but not impossible. When Ntate Damba from SocioTech first came here in 2019 he showed us how to create garden trenches and then build healthy soil in those trenches. After that our gardens went much better.
It is not just the sandy soil that makes food gardening difficult in this region. A lot of the time we also have a problem with water. We only get water once a week from the council. They say it is because in our part of town the pipes were built for fewer people than live here now but they are still building houses!
"Every little bit adds up."
Even with those problems I still manage to successfully grow and sell spinach and maize and tomatoes. In addition to my food gardening I have a soft spot for pretty flowers. When there used to be more water you should have seen how beautiful my garden was then. Even now I manage to create beauty with my topiary hedges – I have cut a hibiscus plant so it is growing in the shape of a basket (it even has a handle going over the top). I also have a small side hustle selling amazimba chips, sweets and ice creams to local school children. Every little bit adds up.
My young grandson, Ntsako is one year and nine months old. Ntsako means happiness and he is very happy in the garden playing with the soil. He is too young to help with the plants yet, but maybe when he is older. At the moment my main gardening partner is Calfonia Moswathupa. She is a good friend - whenever we have problems we solve them together.
She is not afraid of hard work. We are in the same WhatsApp group in terms of our outlook on life.