Help get food to vulnerable communities this Mandela Day
Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July is a day that South Africans get to feel proud of the moral giant who was once at the helm. But more than that it is a day dedicated to driving change and making a difference in communities across South Africa. At Henley Africa, this day is especially important. Since the business school’s mission is to build the people, who build the businesses, that build Africa, it’s another opportunity for us to live out our values.
This year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is urging South Africans to “do what you can, with what you have, where you are” with a special focus on creating awareness of the intersections between food security and climate change. This is a cause that is close to Henley Africa’s heart.
A staggering 10 million adults and nearly three million children are estimated to have experienced hunger in South Africa in 2021. And while food insecurity reached new heights during the COVID-19 pandemic, since then the troubles have just been piling on, taking a further bit out of food security, from the seismic unrest of last July to catastrophic KZN floods that were almost certainly as a result of the changing climate.
To unlock human potential, we need a holistic approach
It’s become a bit of a cliché to say that a hungry child can’t learn, but it’s no less true because of that. As Henley Africa Dean and Director Jon Foster Pedley says, “Africa is full of capable people, though too many are under-educated, excluded or trapped in poverty.”
As a business school, Henley believes passionately in the upskilling and education of Africans because unless they rise, African economies will not rise.
“The engine of prosperity is business,” says Foster Pedley. “Good businesses, driven by capable, confident, and proactive people, that provide value to other businesses and society – to build opportunity and grow economies. None of this is possible if people are disempowered, unhealthy or undernourished.”
This is why in 2020 Henley partnered with the Mark Fish Foundation to reach out to and uplift farm workers through sport and has designed a Foundation for Farm Management short course in collaboration with AgriSA to build skills in this critical area.
The issue of food security is also inextricably linked to another burning issue in South Africa: land redistribution.
“This is a festering sore left unresolved since the imposition of the hated Native Land Act of 1913,” comments Foster Pedley, “but its handmaid is food security. There is no reason why we cannot radically transform both ownership and the food production and agricultural supply chain – but to do so, we have to create a framework of education and support to ensure this is both successful and sustainable and avoid the roadblocks that have derailed the process in other countries and created food insecurity there.”
Doing what we can with what we have
Henley is committed to the goal of creating a thriving, prosperous and sustainable world and its endeavours in this regard are centralised under the banner of Henley EARTH (Environmental Activism through Research & Training), an initiative that seeks to transform business education and encourage people to think bigger about business and about changing the world.
As part of its visible commitment to Henley EARTH – and in an effort to bring nature into the city – the business school is also beginning a process of rewilding its Johannesburg campus by creating an indigenous pool and planting indigenous trees throughout. Plans are also afoot to bring in beehives and to plant indigenous, insect-friendly flowers and shrubs.
This year in seeking to live out Madiba’s legacy, Henley Africa is additionally aligning itself with some more heroes and giants who are at work in South Africa’s cities every day and share Henley’s values and is encouraging everyone in its community to consider supporting them or another organisation of their choice this Mandela Day:
Founded in 2010, GreenPop is an award-winning registered non-profit organisation that is on a mission to restore ecosystems and empower environmental stewards through forest restoration, urban greening, food gardening, and environmental awareness projects across sub-Saharan Africa. There are many ways to get involved to help them in their work wherever you are:
- Make a once-off donation or sign up to become a monthly donor
- Sponsor a tree as a gift
- Fundraise for GreenPop by registering for or hosting an event
- Join the annual Festival of Action to learn, connect, give back and – plant trees!
- Get your hands dirty. Sign up for regular or ad-hoc volunteering
Courtesy of Greenpop, photographed by Ashleigh De Villiers
Straight from the Ground
Based in Johannesburg, Straight from the Ground is working to share the rewards and the risk of farming by building relationships between communities and their farmers. Their hope is to improve food security in a broken food system by cultivating local, decentralized food production based on organic principles and fairness, and supporting ecological remediation of soil and water through innovation (including compost making processes). This Mandela Day you can show your support by:
The Nelson Mandela Foundation
The Nelson Mandela Foundation works tirelessly – not just on Mandela Day – to build a better South Africa that is inspired by the legacy of Mandela. Help to support the work they do now: