Written by: Christina Vestey
We really need to reconnect with our roots to nature and listen to the elders around the world. I call them living libraries because they actually know most of the things that we don’t know. They have this knowledge, but they don’t know who to share this knowledge with. It’s because we are not asking them about these things. It’s something that I’m trying to spark with my business. To say, ask your grandmother about this, ask your grandfather about this, ask your elder about this and let there be a bit of information sharing. My grandmother would share her stories around fruits. For example, the wild sour plum. Those are the things she would talk about. I feel that knowledge like hers should be preserved somehow.
People don’t go into the wild as much as they used to. There’s a lot of activities to do now. There’s a TV in every home. There’s PlayStations, there’s Twitter, Facebook and so on. For us, when we wanted to play, we would go foraging and people are no longer interested in foraging. And if people are not interested in something, it loses its value.
I got introduced to foraging by my grandmother. I grew up in the Northwest, in a village called Seolong. We would go foraging with my grandmother and also with friends. It was actually fun to do it. I think it was a great, formative period. It’s a part of who I am. It’s a part of my identity and culture. I believe right now we are losing this knowledge which forms a great part of who we are.
The impact that starting my business had on me is that I really had to connect with my childhood again. Not only that but it’s also taught me that challenges in life are seasonal like the items we would forage. I appreciate nature more. I get to impact other people’s lives because when I go foraging, now, I go with a group of young people. They teach me about these fruits because some of them have been doing this their whole lives. Now they are paid for that knowledge and skill and they get to be paid through me. I get to put food on somebody’s table. It has impacted me that I’m doing good. I’m sharing my gift with other people. I’ve learnt to really listen to the ingredients and just go with the flow. It has shown me a different Mpho.
At Indigenous Delights, we produce luxury food, such as jams and chutneys, made out of indigenous, raw products. We exclusively source our raw material from women and youth in the villages in the Limpopo province. We do this to ensure that we provide a way of earning income for women and youth, and also to ensure that the materials we get are indigenous to that area and are collected sustainably.
I wanted to make something that I grew up loving, indigenous delights, into modern food. There’s a certain stigma that comes with some indigenous fruits that I grew up eating. I ate that a lot when I was young because we had nothing else to eat. So, some of the foods are seen as poverty foods. We’re trying to break through that stigma.
Evolving to me means growth. It means pushing boundaries. Knowing that fear is there, but saying to the fear, ‘I acknowledge you, fear, but I’m not gonna let you paralyze me’. Evolving means chasing your dreams the only way you know how. Evolving is also growth in terms of knowing yourself and making things happen for yourself and for those that are around you. It’s about opening the door for those who come after you.