There were scenes of joy at Mvezo, the mountainous birthplace of Nelson Mandela and the court of the area’s chiefs, when 10 cows were slaughtered as part of the Islamic Eid ul-Adha festival. The festival remembers Abraham’s sacrifice when his son was replaced by a ram. Called Qurbani, the meat is distributed to the poor. Hundreds from the Mvezo community queued up to be given the sacrificial meat under the watchful eye of Inkosi (Chief) Zwelivelile Mandla Mandela.
The cows were donated to the local community of Mvezo, a rural district 40 kms south of Mthatha, by the NGO Awqaf South Africa and the Turkish Diyanet Vakfi as part of their # Share the Care Qurbani programme.
Speaking to tribal elders, guests and community members, Mandela said that the Transkei had a precious resource – its land – and massive potential. There were 3.2 million cows, 6 million sheep and 7 million goats in the region, and local farmers needed to be empowered in animal husbandry.
“An ox, for example, is bought for R2, 000 by a white farmer, fattened for 60 days and then resold for R17, 000. We need to break this cycle. We need to educate our farmers to benefit directly from their own resources,” he said.
Mandela also said that aloes, which grew on the hillsides, were an untapped natural resource. Environmentally sustainable methods of harvesting had to be explored.
At the Mvezo Great Place, community members and Chief Mandela made calls for the hunger for Islam in South Africa’s rural areas to be addressed by establishing madrasahs and mosques. Mandela also announced that Mthatha would be getting its first mosque, which would be funded by the Turkish government.
He has also called on the government to support development on their land. This is the way out of poverty. Locals have the means, but they need education to become self-sufficient.
On a tour of the Mandela School of Science and Technology, built in 2013 in Mvezo, Mandela said that education had to be a focus of the country’s neglected rural areas.
He said that there were still villages without running water. The villagers had to use donkeys to haul water from the Mbashe River.
After the Qurbani, Awqaf announced that it would embark on three upliftment programmes: animal husbandry, a study on the viability of harvesting aloes and teacher training.
“The heart of poverty lies in the rural areas, but the untapped potential in these regions is the key to the eradication of poverty,” said Haroon Kalla, Awqaf Chairperson of Trustees.