Commercial interests in South Africa continue to view rural people as problems to be removed to the peripheries while their plight remains invisible in the public eye.
Near the South African borders with Swaziland and Mozambique rests gorgeous, pristine land. Communities here often find themselves residing inside of nature reserves - with or without consent and consultation. The plethora of nature reserves in the region is testament to the environmental stewardship of local communities.
One community organiser relayed to me that, while growing up, "we would swim in the rivers and grandmothers would warn us that if we killed snails, frogs or snakes, we would switch genders". Such fables continue to be passed along to instil an ethic of connectivity and respect for the environment; to damage the environment is to permanently alter one's self.
In this context of natural beauty, cultural and economic devastation is ever-present - continued attempts are being made to dispossess rural people of their ancestral lands and livelihoods. Here I spoke to two men, one 44, the other 35. Both recall growing up and coming of age in vibrant, autonomous communities. Living on lands formally administered by Ingonyama Trust - an institutional vestige of apartheid...