Maverick Citizen


Lindi Nzwane — a farmer and climate activist planting the seeds to empower women

Lindi Nzwane — a farmer and climate activist planting the seeds to empower women
Climate activist Lindi Nzwane. (Photo: Thom Pierce)

It started with a need to feed her family through farming. Now, Lindi Nzwane’s life is now dedicated to climate activism.

Lindi Nzwane is a 49-year-old mother of two boys. She is also a farmer, climate activist, campaigner and community builder. She has dedicated her life to environmental action, so much so that she has even opened up her home in Evaton West, south of Johannesburg, as a show home to promote socially owned renewable energy. 

It all started in 2009 when Lindi was recruited into the Young Agriculture Ambassadors programme. There was little in the way of work to go around and she realised that she could no longer sit back and do nothing. She needed to support herself and her family so she turned to farming in order to put food on the table. 

In those early years, she met Earth Life Africa who were empowering and educating people on climate change and environmental issues. 

“As farmers, we saw a decrease in our produce, unusual seasons, unusual rainfall, and our crops weren’t doing well. We thought it was the end of the world. Earth Life Africa taught us about climate change, how it affects us as farmers, and the changing seasons for planting.”

From Monday to Friday Lindi runs a community garden project on a plot of land at a primary school in Evaton, a 45-minute walk from her home. From there she teaches other women in the community about organic farming practices through the growing of cabbages, green beans, onions, peppers and spinach to sell to residents. She hopes the women will not only make some money to support themselves but also take the knowledge, teach others and start gardens of their own at home. 

Although the garden project itself is a full-time endeavour, Lindi is also very involved with two climate action groups: Grassroots for Climate Action and the Women Energy and Climate Change Forum. Through these she engages in developments in the just transition, renewable energy and food security, and relays them back to other concerned citizens in her community. 

“It isn’t just talking about energy but also the food that we eat. Informing small-scale farmers about how to plant their crops. On the ground, we are teaching people to farm organically, how to save seeds and how to manage pests using organic pesticides. We are also teaching people in the community about environmental conservation by not littering and burning tyres as it also contributes towards pollution. Instead, we teach them about recycling.”

The Women’s Forum itself was formed by Earth Life Africa out of a need to educate women about the gendered effects of climate change, how it specifically affects women and how they can adapt to it. 

“It is important for women to get involved in all policy decisions, to have a voice and to be influential, as it is women who are most affected by climate change. We fetch the wood, collect the water, and farm the land. When people are sick it is women who take care of them. We need to be capacitated and empowered. We cannot have men deciding on women’s issues. The Woman’s Forum helps us to be part of it.”

Lindi’s life is now dedicated to climate activism, she sees the need for it in everything she does. Through another project called “the socially owned programme”, facilitated by Earth Life Africa, she has opened her home up to the community, allowing them to charge their devices through her solar power. The idea is to bring people in, teach them how it works and educate them about renewable energy and how to lobby the government for socially owned solutions.  

“My passion is to make a change through educating people and engaging communities. I am not an expert, I am just a community member who is trying to influence the decisions that are made for us. They shouldn’t make decisions on our behalf; we have voices, and we should be able to say what kind of energy sources and seeds we want.” DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: The Actionists

This story is one of a series of articles produced by The Actionists in collaboration with the Heinrich Boell Foundation’s Cape Town office to highlight the incredible work of organisations and activists across South Africa in their pursuit of justice and equal rights for all.

The Actionists was launched in early 2023 by photographer Thom Pierce. It consists of on-the-ground problem solvers, community activists, climate campaigners and human rights defenders who engage in direct action. They are people anyone can turn to in difficult circumstances: a growing community of people who care about the future of South Africa. Through a series of photographic stories, Pierce profiles these people. Through a website, discussion forum and social media, the aim is to provide ways for people to get involved.

Nominate Actionists in your circle at or email [email protected].

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.


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