Herbanisation. Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation.
by Andrew Reid
The Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation
The Herbanisation planting event in July 2014 brought together a wide group of herbalists, Rastas, conservation professionals, environmental activists and local residents in a collaborative effort to build a lasting positive impact with respect to local nature. Regardless of their individual motives for attending the day – to grow more herbs for markets, plant indigenous species or create green spaces in otherwise neglected urban landscapes; the project was able to initiative important and potentially lasting linkages between these worlds. Through such linkages the ongoing processes of conserving unique biodiversity and fostering cultural and economic needs can be addressed. The project serves as a pilot, but equally demonstrated to many participants for the first time that their interests have more in common than they initially thought. For Neville and the Khoi-Rastas this has meant, for the first time, that their voices have been considered and that their story as (little considered) indigenous people can be brought to the light of day. For Rasta individuals such as Benji who trade with medicinal plants every day, it was a chance to see the perspectives of others and gain better understanding of a country that commonly views their practices and behaviour to be at best, eccentric, and at worst criminal. Conversely the day revealed to conservation officials the true nature of the identity and life of the Khoi-Rastas, and how their cultural outlook is a positive impact compared to the rife social decay and criminality that surrounds their communities, and that they share a love for nature that runs deeper than many had previously considered. Neville has since met with many conservation groups including Cape Nature and City of Cape Town Conservation – organisations that have traditionally avoided such interactions. He has given presentations, taken tour groups around the garden and instructed university students on aspects of Khoi life and herbalism from a unique and genuine perspective. Herbanisation has taken a powerful voice in the Khoi Commmunity and given it reach into mainstream Cape Town, which brings about the kinds of changes necessary for building an inclusive South Africa and sows the seeds of genuine efforts towards sustainable development.