Report back: Community Engagement Meeting - Mariannhill with Crosby Luhlongwane 10 Jan 2017

Report compiled by Delwyn Pillay

Community Engagement Meeting - Mariannhill with Crosby Luhlongwane ,10 January 2017


The community engagement meeting was a follow up to the "End of Year Gathering: Day of Reconciliation 2017" event held at the Stainbank Nature Reserve were there was a discussion around naming the network (a loose network made up of youthful environmental activist engaged in the various spheres of Civil Society). Delwyn Pillay (member of the network) put forward the suggestion of naming the network, "Terra Viva Collective" linking it with the signing of  the Terra Viva – A people’s pact to protect the planet and each other and using/adapting the Terra Viva Manifesto as a workable framework for future community programmes and projects. Delwyn earmarked the Mariannhill community (Mariannhill is a little suburb near Pinetown in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.) as the first community to start with the engagement work. The community was selected as Delwyn has worked closely with Crosby Luhlongwane (a resident artivist and founder of the Green Thumb Society, a local youth environmental org), on numerous events in the area. The most notably of the events, was the Over Grow the System- 28 April 2017, Mariannhill, Durban event.


"Terra Viva Marianhill"

Crosby signed the Terra Viva Manifesto and will lead the Terra Viva Marianhill movement.


As the Terra Viva Marianhill movement leader Crosby will try and translate the Terra Viva pact into isizulu (Zulu is the language of the Zulu people, with about 10 million speakers, the vast majority of whom live in South Africa. Zulu is the most widely spoken home language in South Africa). Also Crosby will try and get the body corporate of the complex to sign the Terra Viva Manifesto to ensure that the body corporate adopts more environmental safe practices such as discontinuing the use of weed killer and clearing water ways.


Crosby and Delwyn also used the opportunity to do some suburb foraging. They managed to foraged and identify: Wild Madumbes/ elephant ear (Colocasia) - a close relative of the root vegetable most commonly known as taro (Colocasia esculenta), it's also edible though a lot more toxic - Madumbes were brought into KwaZulu-Natal by indentured Indian labourers who arrived in the then-Natal, courtesy of the British Empire to work in the sugar-cane and other fields; Mulberry - introduced species has been widely cultivated in gardens for its fruit, and its leaves are also used to feed silkworms; pink tipped double beans - the seed of which is an Heirloom; grapes - can be eaten fresh as table grapes or they can be used for making wine, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, and grape seed oil; sweet potato; black jack; maize; beans; a type of squash - the locals say it's not edible, the school kids use it as a cricket ball however one can find this type of squash in the Indian markets (mum says that the Hindus use it for prayers); and rocket (Eruca sativa). 


The sweet potato grew from a slip from Delwyn's garden that was planted last year for the Over Grow the System event at the Mariannhill Community Centre which we used for a gardening demo. Was a real surprise to find let alone to see how that tiny slip of sweet potato grew in abundance among the black jack (btw black jack can be cooked as imfino). The Mariannhill Community Centre also runs a feeding scheme - the ladies that run the feeding scheme couldn't believe that we dug up sweet potatoes which was literally a stone throw from where they operate the feeding scheme. Crobsy suspects that the maize and beans grew from the feeding scheme leftover samp and beans.