South Africa

Maverick Citizen: Generation Green

Spha slowly moves his community to better, cleaner food

Spha Mabaso Photo: Nikki Brighton

Greta Thunberg’s generation is making the most noise about the environment right now. But they are frustrated that they seem powerless to implement the changes they’d like to see. Most of the world’s politicians are old, male, ponderous and conflicted by their relationships with the fossil-fuel industry. But in the meantime, young people all over the world are adapting their lives and business ideas to be the change they want. South Africa is no exception. In this series, Maverick Citizen profiles 20-something South Africans with a higher than average eco-IQ and asks them to share their visions for a greener future.

Slow Food ambassador Spha Mabaso, 27, grows organic enterprise in Mpophomeni

“I’m a young black man trying to do something meaningful with my life while helping shape my community to establish better food systems so they can have clean food.

I try to live my life in a productive manner through practising organic farming. I’m dedicated to building my business and my community so I always find a holistic approach so that every angle is covered.

I have always been aware of the space I live in and I started being concerned with my environment when I noticed it being polluted by plastic. I started hiking near rivers and noticed that the water ecosystem is dead. There is no life within our rivers and some plants that were in abundance are now scarce.

I promote eco-living through my agroecology garden in Mpophomeni Township where we produce fruit and vegetables that are organic, helping people gain access to clean, fair food. I will be advocating for more agroecology establishments to promote eco-conscious living under the Slow Food movement.

Future forecast

My vision for the future is seeing KZN becoming a Slow province, promoting the Slow Food philosophy and helping communities establish their own food system. If we use agroecology practices to establish food forests, these will supply communities and schools with food that is locally produced

People are becoming more conscious about the harm they cause to the environment but I am concerned about the land that is occupied without any environmental impact assessment being done. Grazing fields are getting scarce and medicines are disappearing due to land grabbing. 

2020 Green Vision

I would like to see SA moving towards using green energy. We can use solar energy since we get so much sunlight here in Africa. It would be amazing to see more technology being adopted by small-scale farmers to improve crop production

We have a growing concern about climate change and a lot has to be done in order to help rural communities adapt to climate change. The government must also look at our agricultural practices and how ethical they are. MC

Spha Mabaso is a member of uMngeni youth council where he heads the agri-business portfolio, spokesperson for the Mpophomeni food conservation group and also spokesperson for the indigenous youth of the southern region of Africa, advocating for better food systems.