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Stay committed to the path and work on it endlessly

Follow your calling and blessings will follow

Jay Jay Farm employees getting the land ready to prepare for planting.
Jay Jay Farm employees getting the land ready to prepare for planting.
Image: Supplied

 I believe in calling-based professions – I am nearly certain that I have shared these utterances before. 

“Surprise! Surprise! A sangoma who believes in following your calling”, you must be thinking. I implore you to indulge me a little.  

But first an anecdote! A while ago I caught up, over lunch, with a childhood friend of mine Mihle (or fondly, Miza) in my hometown, Mthatha, Eastern Cape. In true fashion we spoke about work and she expressed how she always knew that I would venture off into writing in some way or the other. I laughed it off, and for a second, I considered how deeply intimately she must know me to know my intrinsic love for literature.  

I asked her about her work – now before I carry on I must say I have always found her career passions very unusual – especially in consideration of the kind of girly girl I know her to be. She exists in, and is profoundly passionate about, the agricultural field.  

She explained to me that her role as a mentor is to assist farmers transition from subsistence to commercial farming. She advises and guides them through the journey of planting, harvesting and the intricacies of yielding maximum crop. I joked about all that sun exposure, and she assured me that over the years, she has found ways to preserve and protect her skin.  

She piqued my interest when she told me about a pair of youth farmers from Baziya, Eastern Cape, who were concluding their maize harvest. It was intriguing to me because it was bit early for the conclusion of harvest – it was around June Youth Day weekend. I listened tentatively as she explained that the organisation employed about 20 local youths and they handled 30 hectors of land.  

This interested me the most because I was raised by a subsistence farmer. To this, my maternal grandmother uMadlamini mostly feeds us veggies grown in her garden when we are home. When I was at Rhodes University I would return to varsity – after my holidays – with umleqwa (hard body chicken), veggies and eggs because of course she had chickens too – I digress! 

I was fully invested in the extent of Miza’s work, particularly these young farmers and I proceeded to ask: “I don’t know much about farming but this sounds great. How did they manage to pull that off hey?”

She joked and said “well, sometimes they have good mentors. I don’t know the details but I can get you in contact with someone.”  

We concluded our lunch and I went home. In true Miza fashion, as one who always does what she says she will, she sent me the details of one of the farmers – Mzimasi Jalisa, 29. I took this as a sign to follow up on the burning questions in my mind... how did they get this early harvest? Is there a secret they can share? Are there black women employed in his organisation (you know... feminism)? What other crops are they farming etc... you know for interests’ sake.

One of the young emerging farmers, Mzamasi Jalisa (29) in cabbage farm
One of the young emerging farmers, Mzamasi Jalisa (29) in cabbage farm
Image: Supplied

Mzimasi was kind enough to make time to answer my somewhat juvenile questions, detailing his journey in agriculture. He quickly explained that he and his business partner Siphe Joyi, 31, believe that God and ancestors were ever in their favour because they planted in the second week of December, which is apparently late. He explained: “Eish, yazi sisi wam (my sister) when you work with young people – December is challenging. People go missing and don’t report for work.”  

He further explained that this year they had a strategy towards avoiding incidences of employee absenteeism by planting earlier. Having harvested a whopping 5 tons this past season, he expressed dissatisfaction because the 2021-2022 season yielded 6 tons. He attributed the discrepancy to the harsh rains.  

I overtly asked him again if they have women in his organisation. He laughed and said: “Well, we have a right-hand woman who is an agricultural sciences graduate, like me. Her name is Aphelele. Siphe on the other hand contributes with her extensive experience passion and commitment to commercial farming.”

He expanded: “We employ people who we share our business model with because we hope that they too can farm on their ancestral land, because here in the Eastern Cape it tends to be vast. We hope they can replicate and become independent.”

“Hmm. Powerful!” I thought as I made note concluding my conversation with Mzi and thanking him for his time.  

Retrospectively, to say I marvelled at their sheer passion tenacity as Mzimasi spoke about their farming project would be an understatement. His words echo in my mind as he detailed their resilience and luck in winning government fundings, surviving Covid-19 expanding into cattle farming: “I think bukhona ubunyanga esinabo (we must be magically inclined) because yes, we have worked hard but there are specific instances where luck was in our favour.”  

Interpretatively, I think Mzimasi (and partner) are gifted and wise enough to follow their calling and in turn God and the ancestors will continue to be in their favour. I think it is even more remarkable that they empower youth while working the very land that connects each one of us to our ancestors. This interaction reminded me of the power of following your calling and staying true to it no matter what.  

I encourage you as well, reader, to follow your calling and stay true to it. Stay committed to the path and work on it endlessly. You will also be blessed abundantly for as long as you too seek to empower and not hurt people using your calling and gift.  

That’s all from me, and remember... follow your calling.

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