A Mile With… Chapumbo, The Team Leader
Chapumbo Sekin works as a team leader on the grape farms in Aussenkehr, at the banks of the Orange River in the South of Namibia. I passed the farms and the workers’ village next to it on a Saturday, when Sekin and his colleagues had a day off. The grapes grow especially well in this area, Sekin told me, and they ripe long before the grapes farther south in neighboring South Africa. A good part of the harvest, which starts around November, is exported to Europe. Sekin told me to have a good look at the living conditions of the workers there and think about them when eating grapes back home in Germany. He says that a seasonal worker earns about nine Euros per day picking grapes. Union representatives have long called for the farm owners to erect more suitable houses for their workers, but nothing has happened as of yet.
A Mile With… Chris, The Village Council Leader
People leave their villages and go away to live in town. It is an old story – and it is still a big movement. The United Nations say that Africa’s urban population will more than double until 2050. This is also due to high birth rates in cities – and there is a good side to that, as education and public services are more reachable in cities. But for the rural areas that people leave, providing services such as schools, hospitals and roads gets harder.
In Namibia, the latest census shows a growing level of urbanization, too. Chris Murangi doesn’t like that. He is Chief Executive Officer of the Village Council in Witvlei, a settlement of roughly 3000 people in Namibia’s Omaheke region. When I stopped in Witvlei in windy weather, he told me about rural flight and what it means for his village.
A Mile With… Abel, The Trader
Zimbabwe was once considered the bread basket of Southern Africa. It has however been plagued by food deficits as a result of drought, poor planning and failed agricultural policies since the year 2000. This year, Zimbabwe is facing a grain deficit again and has become highly dependent on imports. It has already imported about 120.000 tons of maize from its neighbor Zambia this year, the Zambian Food Reserve Agency says, thus having become its major buyer.
The export of grain and other foodstuffs does not only happen on the large scale. Many small traders try to make a living from crossing the border between the two countries. I met Zambian Abel Chanda Mulenga at the border post close to the town of Victoria Falls where he told me about his business.
Please excuse the rather low picture quality of the video – I used a very small camera for this.
A Mile With… Angelo, The Entrepreneur
Angelo Kuleni Mondaka is a young entrepreneur from Lusaka. He started his business six months ago, creating the first Zambian company to sell and operate vending machines. Mondoka has already hired six employees and hopes to expand further. I met him while he was servicing coffee vending machines at the office of one of his customers.
A Mile With… Kondwani, The Malawian Journalist
One day can change a lot! I had planned to put this video about Kondwani Munthali, a reporter at Malawi’s biggest newspaper “The Nation”, on the blog today. When I visited him in the paper’s newsroom in Lilongwe, he told me about the decline of press freedom he has experienced in his country. He said that the authorities started intimidating journalists after last year’s anti-government riots that left at least 18 people dead. Munthali was very outspoken in his criticism of President Bingu wa Mutharika who he says was harming the country by chasing away donors from abroad.
Now, Malawi’s president Bingu wa Mutharika is dead. I just spoke to Munthali on the phone and he told me that he is full of hope again that his country will get back on track to press freedom and economic development. “As shocking as the president’s death is for our nation,” he told me, “I believe that this is a new beginning for Malawi. Politicians here have now learned their lesson that arrogance and intimidation won’t work.”
You can find Munthali’s personal blog here.