When I visited the Ncwane residence in the beautiful village of Umlalazi last month, it was a joyous occasion. Zinhle Ncwane (39) approached to open the gate with a big smile on her face. She has been a member of a savings group called Asifukulane since it started in 2015, when SaveAct was first introduced in Eshowe, and she is the chairperson of her group. “You couldn’t have come at a better time,” Zinhle said as she opened for me. “MaChili has given birth to twins.”
Who is this MaChili, you might wonder? Zinhle has a passion for farming and one of her goals has been to grow vegetables and breed goats, to supply neighbours and large markets. At the time she was regularly saving five shares per month, each worth R50, and in the share-out in February 2016 she received a total of R3720. She used R1350 to buy her first goat and some seedlings. The goat, which was pregnant when she was purchased, was named maChili and soon gave birth to two lambs, a male and a female. In December 2016, with the help of a loan from her saving’s group, Zinhle bought another goat and named her Mlungu (because of her white fur), giving her a total of four goats acquired in just one year.
Five months ago Zinhle took maChili to mate with the neighbour’s goats, and she has now given birth to another two lambs. Zinhle said the reason for her excitement about their birth was that, according to superstition, a goat never gives birth to twins consecutively, and so this was a very big deal and she felt really blessed.
She said before joining SaveAct she would never have believed that she could have six goats in the space of just a year and a half. I was very curious about the naming of the goats, and asked her why she does this. “If you love your animals and treat them with love, they love you back by multiplying and staying healthy,” she explained, saying that naming them was one of her ways of expressing her love towards them.
Zinhle also showed me her garden, which looked amazing. She’s currently only growing for household consumption and helping neighbours and the local crèche where her children go. Her challenge is space, and she has started a co-operative with some of her group members. They’re planning get permission to use some community lands to expand and grow for big markets.
Nosipho Ndlela is a SaveAct field officer