A common joke in South Africa that is in essence far more practical than it is funny, is the ‘laugh’ that in order to survive the frightening food price hikes, we’ll all have to become avid vegetable gardeners.
Recent reports from the latest Household Affordability Index as per the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group suggest that in April for the month-on-month analysis, a household food basket has increased by almost R100 from March. For the year-on-year numbers, household food basket costs in SA have risen from R4 198.93 last year to R4542.93 in 2022.
For some South Africans, the news is frustrating. To most, it’s devastating.
That’s why stories of those who are attempting to uplift communities during times of strife become all-important. And, when these stories come from people attempting to turn their lives around, there is an added sense of the wheel turning.
One such case is that of the ‘Ghetto Gardener’ as Ludwe Qamata is affectionately known.
Qamata is embracing his passion for vegetable gardening and using his skills to teach elderly people in his community, helping them flourish in skills that aren’t only wholesome but also needed in current times.
Working at the Sinovuyo Senior Club in Khayelitsha’s Ilitha Park, Qamata helps the seniors grow in gardening knowledge and skills.
However, before doing agricultural courses, Qamata actually grew his gardening skills whilst he was a prisoner, as GroundUp reports.
“He is a remarkable young man; gentle, soft spoken and passionate. Like so many young men of colour in SA, his life has not and is not an easy one, but despite the limitations he shines like a bright light of hope and inspiration, especially to other young men who are looking for role models,” says Uthando who have worked with him.
Qamata spent 3 years in prison according to Uthando, and it was when he was doing parole, cleaning the Nyanga Police Station, that in a queue for soup he noticed a struggling garden.
After nurturing the garden, others took the opportunity to ask for his skills on their own household gardens – something that would ultimately lend to the good work he’s now commited to with the Ghetto Gardener movement.
Qamata has been passionate about farming from his youth in the Eastern Cape where he’d assist his grandmother in the art of planting. Now, he hopes to help not only senior citizens, but also the youth in the future.