Monday, August 29, 2011

Baziya Cooperatives

With the new motto of “shut up and get in the car”, the call from Sis Ghana on Monday morning that we were going to Mthatha and that I should probably pack an overnight bag meant that I just said “sounds good!”. 
After a community meeting at the Centre for Rural Development and an evening assisting Prof Luswazi, Sis Ghana and I shared a bed at Prof’s home which is itself a historical site (the former ministerial home of the leaders of the Transkei homeland).  The next day, we woke early and met with the Ntinga Development Agency which does development work in the O.R. Tambo Municipality.  O.R. Tambo Municipality has the the lowest Human Development Index rating and highest poverty gap in the province (and I believe I read that it also has the highest birth rate in the country).  Mr. Filtane invited us to an indaba (community meeting) as well as the opportunity for a site visit to Baziya to view some the cooperatives and surrounding areas where Sis Ghana, Andrew, Karin, and I will be assisting on some research into whether the cooperatives training and growth has been successful.
We drove past Mthatha for about 50 kilometres and nearly got lost before finding our way to the meeting.  As usual, men and women were sitting on separate sides of the circle and Sis Ghana and I were introduced to the community so our faces would not cause too much of a stir when we returned to conduct the research.  We continued on further into Baziya to visit the sewing, baking, poultry, and agriculture cooperatives and meet the members.
After our site visits, we continued on our way back to East London through Ngcobo, Walter Sisulu’s birthplace.  The air was considerably cooler on our route as we were at the foot of the Drakensberg mountains and I now understand how they get the snow in the Eastern Cape inland.  Then finally back to East London for plans on developing our plans and itinerary for the work with Ntinga and Baziya.  It was very interesting to see another part of the Eastern Cape and watch members of the community in action and proud of their enterprises!

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