It is unusual to find young people in our community who appreciate soil and the benefits of gardening, but there are some unique individuals. Meet Thembelani Teeza Jili – a well-known, multi-talented young man who has been working for African Conservation Trust in partnership with Mpophomeni Conservation Group in their mission to make school gardens awesome, and to establish gardens in hundreds of homesteads in Mpophomeni.
Thembelani’s love for gardening has been lifelong and is motivated by his love for beautiful and colourful flowers. He realised sadly that he could not make money selling flowers in our community because people don’t eat flowers. “I love food gardening because there is wealth in the soil, and nourishment in whatever comes from that soil and I love good food,” he says, adding “with veggie gardening you can make that little bit of money for airtime and other food because you cannot eat all the food you produce. I sell some to whoever is willing to buy”.
Thembelani is a member of the Hip Hop dance group called Guns and Roses which he started with his lifelong friend Philani Ngubane. He is also a fashion designer of a unique style that he calls Hip Hop Italian Swag and an actor who has performed in many stages in KwaZulu Natal. Thembelani is one of the founders of the weekly poetry sessions, where Mpophomeni artists meet, are given a platform to share their craft and are inspired to grow their talents.
He has just been handed a piece of land below the Bethel Ministries tent. His vision is to work with the youth and plant seasonal vegetables to sell to big supermarkets. He will not be doing this only for himself, he just wants to make sure everyone has food.