Talk about ordinary people doing it for themselves, taking things into their own hands and pulling themselves from the jaws of poverty. Happy Shongwe is one such person. Having lived for a greater part of her life under difficult circumstances, Happy has shown an impressive will to uplift herself and her family.
In a space of less than a decade, Happy has transformed her life from lack into a well-established award-winning farmer and agro-business woman. She is a clear example of what one can do if they apply themselves to a vision wholeheartedly. Happy now owns a productive farm, and seed business in Swaziland. She also co-ordinates women from her community in a bid to empower them to be self-sufficient as well. Being a rural African woman, Happy is typically hardworking, she was raised that way. She is also very community-focused and wants her community to rise from poverty to comfort.
Notably, this kind of story is quite typical in African villages. These qualities of our people should be celebrated and upheld. Unfortunately most of these stories are hardly ever reported. Thanks to FANRPAN, Happy is able to tell her story to the world and inspire other woman and communities around the continent. Maybe this is the catalyst that we need to loosen our dependence on food aid on a continent which has such natural potential to feed itself. Fancy working up each morning to the daily paper leading with a new story of such inspirational persons. Imagine the effect it could have.
I had the opportunity to meet yet another example of this hardworking, resourceful African woman in Lydia Sasu of Ghanan (in Video). Yet another typical African mother if I ever saw one. Hardworking, caring and very humble. And yet her work and mobilisation of local women around farming in Ghanaian villages has earned her worldwide recognition. She is clearly flattered and surprised by all the accolades. She would do it sans awards anyway. This is what she does, this is the life she knows and loves. She wouldn’t do anything else. What a blessing that our young African brothers and sisters are raised and learn from these women.
“A farmer doesn’t rest. He is always trying this or that thing. "Mr Isaiah Sithole defined the typical African farming man in response to the question “Why do you do so many things at once” at the recent side event hosted by FANRPAN at COP17. Sithole is yet another clear example of the self-empowering African. A humble, unassuming and soft spoken man, Sithole has been able to make the best of humble beginnings to become a self-sufficient farmer who deals in crops, poultry and livestock all in one. He is a self-made agro-business man in Swaziland and like Happy was able to tell his story and inspire other African farmers at a FANRPPAN side event at COP17’s Agriculture and Rural Development Day(ARDD).
There are many other such stories out there. Stories of ordinary rural African folk making it happen for themselves and their communities. May they be a shining example of what ordinary people can do for themselves and their communities. Kudos to all those organisations like FANRPAN, CONNECT4CLIMATE and CTA who are trying to bring these stories to the rest of the world!