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FAST FASHION The price we pay




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ENTREPRENEUR PAR EXCELLENCE African Independent chats to Ntebo Lesetla-Peri, CEO of Jezreel Group, and uncovers the secret to successfully running a diverse company.


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CONNECTING OUR STRUGGLES Artist and activist Haroon Gunn-Salie uses the universal language of art to highlight how South Africa’s troubled past prevails in a present-day context.


Nigerian tech entrepreneur Omotade Odunowo disrupts the fintech industry.



We interview Prudence Lebina, CEO of GAIA Infrastructure Capital.

24 THE ESSENCE OF AFRICAN FASHION Designer and business owner Sarah Diouf draws her inspiration from her mixed heritage.

Cover photograph: Paul Shiakallis


Our annual edition focuses on sustainability and the industry leaders fighting for a greener future.


Nando’s serves up food for thought via their latest ad questioning the increase of ‘Afro-futurism’ on our screens. 3

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editor’s note

Let’s do our part “The time is past when humankind thought it could selfishly draw on exhaustible resources. We know now the world is not a commodity.” – François Hollande Ten years ago, as a young teenager, I travelled to Greenland on a Climate Change Learning Journey, organised by the Tällberg Foundation. I clearly recall the shock I felt, standing on a little fishing boat in the Arctic Ocean, as massive ice sheets crashed into the ocean before my eyes. I learned then that the ice caps were melting at an alarming rate and remember my younger brother’s distress at the realisation that the polar bears and walruses would have nowhere to go. Locals I met were already feeling the effects of these changes on their hunting and living patterns. The situation has only gotten worse since then. According to The Conversation, “Between 2002 and 2016 the [Greenland] ice sheet lost mass at a rate of around 269 gigatons per year. One gigaton is one billion tonnes. One tonne is about the weight of a walrus.” That’s 269 billion walruses! Glaciers are disappearing too. National Geographic recently featured an article claiming that the number of glaciers in Glacier National Park (on the Canada–US border) has decreased from 150 to 30. Events that are meant to happen in geological time are happening within the span of a human lifetime. Closer to home, global warming is affecting crops and livestock across the region, as well as causing natural disasters like droughts and floods. According to the World Bank (2013), by

the 2030s a warming of only 1.5 degrees in subSaharan Africa could lead to about 40% of the present maize-cropping areas becoming unsuitable for current cultivars, and will have significant negative impacts on sorghum. An under-warming of less than 2 degrees by the 2050s could reduce total crop production by 10%. In this edition of African Independent, we look at sustainability and eco-mindfulness and the industry leaders fighting for a greener future. Two eco-warriors who come to mind are Joelle Eyeson, who builds homes with rammed earth (mud), and Adenike Akinsemolu, who empowers young people to become environmental and social change-makers in their communities. My top pick from the green section is Farah’s fascinating piece on ‘fast fashion’ and its effect on the environment and people. Did you know that the fashion industry is the most pollutive in the world, after oil? So far this year the fashion industry has generated approximately $585 million in revenue. But to what end? Water pollution, toxic chemicals and increasing textile waste… It’s clear that we all need to do our part. Live green. Think green. Eat green.

Saarah Survé

What’s your top tip for living sustainably?

Walter Hayward

Assistant Editor ”Simplify your life as much as possible. By making the effort to reduce what you own, you will naturally purchase less and create less waste in the future.”

Farah Khalfe

Writer & Copy Editor ”Try your best to not waste food by distributing leftovers to those in need.”

Elske Joubert

Senior Writer ”Try to minimise your use of plastic. I take a shopper to the grocery store and opt for using either bamboo straws or no straw at all.”


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Paul Modjadji is a dancer, choreographer, writer, author, social developer and entrepreneur.

Africa is open for business We are in the phase of a renaissance – one characterised by a rejection of an incorrect narrative that has come to be widely accepted and sold to Africans about Africa. In this decade, Africans have been unanimous in rewriting the script of Africa as the land of poverty, despair, hunger and suffering. This, I believe, we owe largely to the power of social media. Yes, Africa is not out of the woods yet, and there are some dire situations prevalent on the continent. For example, earlier this year, Boko Haram took 100 Chibok girls hostage from the town of Dapchi, Nigeria. Statistics still show high levels of hunger in Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). UNICEF reports an estimate of 4.5 million internally displaced people – the highest number of any country on the continent. In my last column, I touched on the issue of refugees in Africa – a crisis I consider one of the biggest challenges of our time, a challenge I urge all of us to play a part in finding solutions to. With that being said, I want to take a moment to appreciate the dawn of a new day on our continent, evident through many young African stars

who are noticeably changing the game and setting the path for international trends and dialogue, as well as setting the agenda on a global scale, instead of blindly following trends. They are gifted, relevant, pioneering, innovative and worth every cent they command. To name a few: Trevor Noah who proved the naysayer wrong by taking over one of the biggest satire talk shows with a success track record of 19 years and with little to no acclaim in the US himself, and turned it into an even bigger success. Lupita Nyongo, a decorated starlet with awards many top actresses can only dream of, who’s dedicated her rising star to addressing issues of colourism and harmful standards of beauty in Hollywood, while lending her voice to the #MeToo campaign. This not only proves her strength and wit, but also highlights her fearlessness as a young woman who could easily be side-lined for future roles for standing up to power. Our stars are no longer happy

to have a seat at the table, they are bringing their own self-designed chair to the table. I cannot help but be inspired by Africa’s leading men and women like Virgil Abloh, Jaha Dukereh, Wiz Kid, Maphorisa, Mohamed Salah, Laduma Ngxokolo, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, and Trevor Stuurman; names that resonate with great African leaders before them like Kofi Anan, Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Zakes Mda and Aliko Dangote. Indeed, Africa is not only open for business, Africa is the business. The one thing one can appreciate about the now, is that the next generation will not only have room within which to dream, but more importantly: references and representation. They will know to look to Africa’s very own models of success and excellence. It would be a tad irrational if I was to complete this piece without touching on the importance of Africans investing in Africa’s development, and the urgency that comes with it. I write this column on the breathtaking shoreline of Pwani Mchangani, on the island of Zanzibar, where almost every hotel and guest lodge are owned and managed by Europeans. Observing life on this island serves as a metaphor for an experience I have had far too many times during my travels across some of the hottest tourism spots in Africa. From Cape Town to Mozambique, and all the way to Dakar, the tourism industry has at times left me wondering if I am indeed in Africa. As I prepare to trek back home, I can’t help but pray for an Africa where all of us are committed in our little corners to this new renaissance. I hope for a continent where we all take up the honours for inclusive care for all children, women, refugees, communities, and the economy. I believe that the future of Africa will bear a new dawn that will see Africans take charge of Africa’s development agenda at every level. Our collective efforts will bring about the change we are all so ready for.

Text: Paul Modjadji; Image: Courtesy

Africa without borders


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CALL OUT FOR VISIONARY INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES TO JOIN THE MOVEMENT! Do you have a desire to make a positive impact? Does your company believe in the power of sustainable development? If so, the LuQuLuQu campaign wants you! The LuQuLuQu campaign, launched by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, draws on the African philosophy of “Ubuntu,” “Ujamaa” or “yi bi ma,” the spirit of sharing resources and caring for one another, to help people forced to flee their homes in Africa. We call on individuals and businesses to invest in the lives of people who have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict or persecution. In Africa, that number of people has now risen to over 24 million. By joining the movement, we believe together we can be a part of the solution. We can change the narrative of the African refugee by highlighting their strength and resilience and empower them to rebuild their lives. For more information about the campaign visit To support families forced to flee, visit: or SMS the word “LuQuLuQu” to 42 656 (SMS donations only available in South Africa and charged at R30.00 per message) For partnership opportunities with the campaign, email: Follow us on social media: Twitter: @LuQuLuQuTribe Instagram: @LuQuLuQuTribe

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tech person


AFRICA’S WEALTH Nigerian tech entrepreneur and CEO of Funds and Electronic Transfer Solutions (fets) Omotade Odunowo is disrupting the fintech industry with her innovative mobile money transaction app that provides easy and affordable financial services.

Having served in many areas of finance as an IT professional, including some Fortune 500 companies, Odunowo felt there was always a need for her to excel in the fintech industry. When the opportunity came to join and expand fets in Nigeria’s burgeoning fintech industry, there was no looking back. Can you tell us more about yourself and career background? I am an IT professional and my core areas of expertise are risk analysis and banking. After gaining a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Ilorin in Nigeria, I completed a Masters in Information Systems, with a focus on information security, from Pace University in New York. These qualifications have led to a career in information security, risk management and data protection, spanning 19 years. It has ultimately led me to become the CEO of fets, a position at Nigeria’s leading mobile money provider and a company that truly pushes forward Africa’s fintech agenda. You joined fets in 2012. How did this come about, and what was your motivation to join Nigeria’s nascent fintech sector? I was invited to join fets as chief risk officer. Prior to that I worked in the financial services industry at a number of Fortune


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tech person

87% 76% 49% 190 million total population Have network coverage Own mobile phones Own smartphones

500 companies and in one of Africa’s leading banks. The founders of fets thought my experience would be a perfect fit for this dynamic young startup. Soon after, I was promoted to CEO with an overall responsibility of strategic leadership, direction and guidance for the growth, expansion and diversification of the company. Then there is my personal motivation to work and excel in fintech. It is truly a cutting-edge sector that combines the best of both worlds – IT and finance – in order to fulfil a strong social mission of bringing financial services to those with limited access to banking. Fintech is a sector that improves lives, and makes employment and doing business easier for millions. How did you transform fets from a startup into the integrated business it is today? As soon as I was appointed CEO, the growth of fets across all headings became my number one priority – growth in the range of services that we provide, as well as in the number of users and transaction values. Of course, the chief prerequisite for growth is building a strong team and a strong product. We have taken a route that is slightly different from your average African mobile money startup; rather than import a solution, we have entrusted our team of Nigerian IT experts with building a world-class product. The experience of launching fetswallet, our award-

winning app, has not only helped us to build the best team in the business, but also to understand and answer the needs of our local market. For instance, with fetswallet you can pay bills, transfer money, top up airtime, and pay your employees in any of Nigeria’s five main languages. We are the first mobile money company in Nigeria that offers multilingual functionality. The results speak for themselves: today, more than two million people use fetswallet and that number keeps growing. In fact, if you look at 2017 compared to 2016, we have doubled our growth rate. How lucrative is the fintech industry and how transparent are the processes from a behind-the-scenes perspective? The fintech industry in Nigeria and the continent as a whole has tremendous growth potential. The latest study from Global Findex – the World Bank Group tracking financial inclusion – shows that only 8% of the Nigerian population have used mobile money services. When you consider the lack of banking facilities in many areas, the number of unbanked citizens, or those with bank accounts but without basic banking tools such as debit cards, it is clear that fintech offers a way forward. In the case of fetswallet, we implement security policies in line with world standards – leading to fets being awarded as Africa’s most trusted mobile payment technology company at the 2016 African Brand Leadership Merit Awards. We offer a thoroughly secure and transparent way to send and receive money, as we are licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The transactions carried out on your personal mobile phone are instantaneous and easy to implement. How important is documenting and advancing youth entrepreneurship in Africa? If you start thinking about an archetypical young entrepreneur, or an exciting startup, what comes to mind? Probably a person or an organisation from the United States, or Europe, India or China – places where there is an emphasis on entrepreneurship, creativity, innovation and self-motivation. Why should this be when we have such strong entrepreneurial energy and creativity in Africa? In addition to changing perceptions, we needed to offer practical help to Nigerian entrepreneurs. Documenting and advancing entrepreneurship, in the sense of publicising positive examples, and offering practical help and opportunities, is important to us. What are your thoughts on African Renaissance? I love the concept of the African Renaissance. It signifies the often untold story about our achievements. For instance, it is not universally known that Nigeria has so far commissioned and launched five satellites into orbit, including Africa’s first communication satellite. Closer to Earth, our film industry, Nollywood, follows closely behind the US and India in terms of output.

Text: Sonwabo Macingwana; Image: Courtesy; Figure:



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When technology transforms a continent and unlocks the dreams of its people. That’s Ingenuity for life. There’s an economic renaissance taking place in Africa. When technology is engineered with purpose it drives the economy and enables prosperity. Siemens’ industrial, transportation and energy solutions are transforming Africa’s economies and global competitiveness so that Africans can live better, more rewarding lives. That’s Ingenuity for life.


A valuable

RESOURCE An interview with Prudence Lebina, CEO of GAIA Infrastructure Capital

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Text: Elske Joubert; Image: Courtesy

A qualified chartered accountant by profession, Prudence Lebina serves on a number of boards as a non-executive director. After completing her articles, she worked as a corporate finance specialist at Deutsche Bank where she specialised in JSE-limited listings requirements, mining mergers and acquisition transactions, and Black Economic Empowerment transaction structures. Thereafter, Prudence worked at mining corporates as a business development specialist. In 2016, she became the CEO of GAIA, a leading infrastructure investment holding company. In your opinion, what is the status quo of the renewable energy sector in South Africa? The sector has reduced the country’s reliance on a single source of energy and helps achieve the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030 vision for South Africa’s energy sector. This plan includes amongst others, diversifying the country’s energy mix, lowering the carbon emissions targets and promoting environmental sustainability. It also aims to ensure energy security in an affordable and sustainable manner, promote economic growth and development through investment, and promote social equity through expanded services. The sector still has a critical role to play in South Africa’s energy infrastructure, job creation and as part of efforts to revitalise the economy. Exciting figures from the International Renewable Energy Association show that if South Africa switched from fossil fuels to clean and safe renewable energy, we could create 150 000 new jobs by 2030. The jobs created in the energy sector include those in construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance. The status of South Africa as the ‘springboard’ into Africa for global investors necessitates good road, rail, port, and air infrastructure development. How can we make this a reality?

One of the ways to ensure South Africa has good road, rail, port and air infrastructure is for private investors to partner with government through public-private partnerships (PPPs). To attract such private investment, a strong and transparent regulatory environment is required, which leads to market confidence in infrastructure projects. Reliable transport infrastructure is a necessity for South Africa and the rest of Africa to achieve their full economic potential and to meet the social objectives of addressing unemployment, poverty and inequality. Other infrastructure sectors such as water and sanitation should model the renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) model of effectively using PPPs to attract private sector investment. These are necessary for the overall sociopolitical stability of the country and the economy. Sustainability is a buzzword of late. How is your company aiding in overcoming the energy, water, sanitation and road challenges faced by the country? Reliable, strong and sustainable infrastructure is a basis for any viable economic activity and growth. To provide such infrastructure, significant investment is required, and government can’t meet such needs on its own. GAIA is an infrastructure investment holding company which provides the savings industry an opportunity to match their long-term liabilities with cash income streams through investing in operating large scale infrastructure assets. GAIA’s business focus is the secondary market in infrastructure and our role is an exit mechanism to developers such that they can invest further capital in more energy, water, sanitation and road infrastructure. As a young, black, female CEO, what have been some of your biggest challenges and successes? Some of the challenges include the lack of support from some critical

QUICK - FIRE Q&A What books are you currently reading? My vision: challenges in the race for excellence by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Finding a way to win by Andre Olivier Who or what inspires you? My female friends who, besides the challenges in corporate, continue to strive for excellence and break the barrier for other black females in corporates. My helper, who with limited resources, works hard on a daily basis to provide for her family and ensure her kids get an education. What would you do with an extra hour in your day? Read more to my kids. Go to a pilates class. Complete one more task from my to-do list.

industry players; delayed capital raise required to move GAIA to the next phase of its strategy; frustration from individuals unwilling to embrace transformation in South Africa; insufficient resources in place that would enable me to have key support structures for my role as CEO; and the lack of balance between work and family. My successes include being the CEO of a JSE-listed company and investing in infrastructure as a new asset class; setting up GAIA to operate as a fully fledged investment holding company post-listing as a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC); mentoring young women to recognise that with determination, hard work and positioning, it is possible to achieve great levels in any profession; and being surrounded by my great sponsors and a firm support structure that constantly try to multiply me. 15

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PASSIONATE In an exclusive interview, African Independent chats to Ntebo Lesetla-Peri, CEO of Jezreel Group, and uncovers the secret to successfully running a diverse company.

As a founding director of the Jezreel Group, Ntebo ensures that the vision and mission of the business is achieved. She ensures that the Jezreel Group’s leadership are aware of both internal and external competitive landscapes, opportunities for expansion, their customer base, markets, new industry developments and high standard of service. She provides a framework for the functionality of all business brands and operations by creating a plan that integrates the strategic direction of the company. Do you think an entrepreneur needs to follow the status quo of their industry to reach success? I believe an entrepreneur can choose the direction of a company right from the get-go and doesn’t need to follow the rules dictated by the status quo. Challenging the status quo can be its own challenge but can also be rewarding. There is no reason to do what others do. Using strategies to break the mould and create something innovative captures the true spirit of entrepreneurship. Can you comment on the evolution of women’s roles, not only in the marketing industry, but society as a whole? It is not a linear progression for women. Women are not a homogeneous group. There are many different types of women who have different issues relating to race, class and sexual orientation. I think women are underrepresented at all levels. Over the last century, societal expectations of women 17

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have changed dramatically, however, the evolution of women’s roles in society has been long and slow. Equality is closer now than before. You are passionate about gender roles, women’s issues and female empowerment. How do you ensure Jezreel aids in this? I employ more women in my business. Gender equality has always been my passion – from the ‘newsroom’ days when I was still a broadcast journalist. Through my foundation, I make sure that girls are given more support and priority with their needs. Even though I’m a proud mother of four boys, and one girl, girls are always closer to my heart because I have seen how vulnerable they can become. In your opinion, how far have we come, as a country and continent, in terms of gender parity? To further promote gender equality in Africa, there needs to be increased education for women, improvements in public health, more child care facilities, and availing women an equal voice in cultural, social, economic and political spheres of public life. Without equal representation of women’s voices in policy-making and institutions, decisions are often more advantageous for men and therefore inefficient to the nation as a whole. The remedy would have to emanate from the cultural tradition of citizenry; accordingly, the collaboration of local communities, institutions, national authorities and international bodies is essential in influencing change and promoting the value of women. They all must act in concert with respect to communication, education, leadership, cultural norms and traditional values in order to shift the attitude and mind-set of the population in favour of gender equality. What makes a good leader? All good leaders require a number of soft skills to help them positively interact with employees, team members and customers. Leadership is one of those nebulous terms – you hear it all the time but it has various definitions. The traits that make up a good leader can vary depending on the organisation, team, manager and work environment. Leadership varies in style. I believe that great leaders are aware of their own style and make the effort to learn how their style comes across to their team. I always make sure I flex my leadership style to individual team members so that they communicate and behave in ways that motivate and inspire. My leadership qualities are: Honesty. Always do the honest thing. It makes employees feel like they know where they stand with you at all times. Focus. Know where you’re going and have a strong

stated mission to lead people. If you’re not sure, how can your people be sure? You have to have strong focus and stay the course. Passion. Whatever it is, you must have passion for what you’re doing. Live, breathe, eat and sleep your mission. Respect. Not playing favourites with people and treating all people – no matter what station in life, what class or what rank in the org chart – the same. Excellent persuasion abilities. People have to believe in you and your credibility. Image is everything and the belief people have in you, your product, your mission, your facts or your reputation are key to being a great leader. You have to persuade people of this – it doesn’t just happen. Confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. I hear leaders worrying that if they show too much confidence, others will think they’re arrogant. The reality is people want to know what you know for sure – and what you don’t. Having the confidence to say “I don’t know” is a powerful skill. Clarity. The only way you can gain confidence is by becoming clear about who you are and what is most important to you. New leaders fail when they try to become all things to all people, or try to do too much out of their area of excellence. Clarity helps you say “yes” to the right things – and “no” to others. Care. The strongest, most effective leaders I’ve met care not just about the business, but about the people in it and the people impacted by it. I try my best to apply this principle. Plus, to show I care through my words and actions, even proving how I care for myself, and my family by taking unplugged vacations and continuing my own professional development. Integrity. I find in general due to all of the economic difficulties, employees prioritise and seek leaders and organisations that are honest and meet their commitments. Of course I cannot meet every expectation of my employees, but I commit to what I promise. Compassion. Talented people want to work for leaders and organisations that truly care about their employees and the communities in which they operate. Do you think being a woman in a leadership role comes with its own set of challenges? Absolutely. The number of women in top business leadership roles still lags behind compared to that of men. Great strides have been made in business, government and in the workplace, however, we still have a long way to go. While there’s no single recipe for success, women who do well tend to share some of the same traits. These characteristics allow female leaders to see all sides of a situation and read co-workers more accurately. Women leaders don’t reach success by accident. They do so because they set concrete goals and work hard to reach them. Instead of being side-tracked by their personal lives


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“Women leaders are used to having to fight the system to get ahead, so they’re not afraid to think outside the box and question the status quo.” 19

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or other responsibilities, they find creative ways to balance work and family time. An added benefit to this laser-like focus is that it makes these individuals appear more confident to their coworkers and team members. These female leaders know what they want – and how to get it. Female leaders excel at fostering personal relationships that develop strong teams. This requires the ability to sense internal conflict and take action to resolve it before the situation creates distrust and discord. While these women are likely to encounter the same obstacles as others, they face roadblocks head-on, with poise and confidence. Rather than second-guess themselves, they stand by their decisions and convictions. Women leaders are used to having to fight the system to get ahead, so they’re not afraid to think outside the box and question the status quo. They don’t shy away from questioning corporate procedures and company structures. Plus, they push back against habit and find innovative solutions to workplace issues – even if it means taking the road less travelled. As a woman, and especially a woman of colour, what advice do you have for other women aspiring to leadership roles? In terms of gender diversity, one of the key findings is that we (Africa) are doing well compared to the rest of the world. Organisations with a greater share of women on their boards tend to have higher operating margins, return on equity, and total return to shareholders. More diversity allows for robust decision making, the benefits of diversity influence risk management, decision making and board dynamics which all impact financial performance. While closing the gender gap still has a long way to go, being a good leader takes some knack, and for women in these leadership roles, the position may be even more daunting. You have to prove yourself a bit more than your male counterparts and work harder to gain the respect of your peers. One thing is for certain: Some of the best and most powerful leaders are African women. The business world is a highly unpredictable and stressful environment. It’s all up to specific individuals and their ability to learn and reach their goals despite the uncertainty around them. I have learned to face these biases. Today’s business world is filled with uncertainty. And uncertainty creates distractions, stress, and obstacles. Having the ‘grittiness’ to thrive in the face of adversity is necessary to be successful in the long-term. Your biggest challenges? Government is one of the worst offenders when it comes to discriminating against women with regards to awarding business contracts. Women business owners face certain challenges and obstacles that men do not. As a

working mother, I often experience more demands on time, energy and resources. But women are not less successful than men, in fact, statistics show that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of men. Women are resourceful, and able to succeed, despite many challenges.  I have seen that one of the most effective tools in overcoming challenges as the CEO is making sure I have quality time with my kids and the best way to do it when I travel for long periods, is to plan my business travels during school holidays. Another big challenge I have faced is finding funding.

“Every inspiring leader is abundantly passionate – not about the product itself, but what the product means to their customers.” How do you see the role of women in Africa? If you look at households in Africa, I would be confident to say the majority of them are ruled by women. Even today, with both parents working, the woman still runs the home. She is the organiser, cooker, cleaner and childminder. A quote by Lawrence H Summers comes to mind: “A society that does not establish pathways to leadership for all of its citizens is a society that is denying itself a possibility of excellence.” It seems that closing the leadership gap between men and women has been a challenge over the last 50 years. Many times women play into this label that we are not natural leaders. Generally we are softer spoken, more sensitive, more emotional and more of a helper. Quite often we tend to stay in the background, out of the limelight so as to not attract attention. The competitiveness in today’s society is so intense in this day and age. It would be nice to see more people and businesses support and nurture the differences of people rather than force them to comply.


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There are many challenges for African women in leadership roles. Women need to be confident in their abilities. Know who you are as a person and express that. Demand and expect the right to be treated fairly. Society needs to start accepting women as capable. Success should not be dependent on what gender you are. Keep a positive attitude and explore all avenues out there.

Text: Saarah Survé; Photography: Paul Shiakallis

What legacy do you, as a woman, ultimately want to leave behind? Women tend to be great at networking, and they possess inherent skills for negotiating. They own the ability to multitask. Single mothers are often good at delegating and budgeting, skills that they rely on to manage their families. The legacy I would like to leave for young women globally is to ensure they build on these skills to empower others. I’m building a ladder of womenowned businesses in Africa. How do you make the most out of your day? What helps you stay productive? I’m frequently asked about productivity. My clients are often desperate to be more self-disciplined, less “lazy” (their word, not mine), and want to know how to get more work done in less time. As a business owner or entrepreneur, you wear so many hats and have so many things to do, it often seems overwhelming. As a result, some just give up, while others work non-stop, perpetually feeling as though they’re drowning. Often, we are our own harshest critics, and this kind of thought process can lead to some substantial, mind-set-related roadblocks to success. In fact, judging yourself harshly can impact your confidence and self-esteem, which are factors that heavily influence the likelihood that you will succeed in your business. The first thing I recommend is to stop judging yourself so harshly and give yourself a break. It is important to check what things you are spending time on that you can eliminate. And what things can you do more often. At least I try to ensure that they should be income-generating, and I try to do less of the things that don’t bring in money. I also eliminate time clutter – when your time gets cluttered with personal tasks that are irrelevant to your work, sucking productivity out of you. What tasks are you avoiding that really need to get done? This is a good time to start incorporating systems and tools to help increase your productivity. Whenever possible, I do my toughest task first, and then the rest of my day is a breeze. My point is that there are many, many systems, and none is one-size-fits-all.

a priority. Although I’m still a work in progress when it comes to the art of relaxation, being intentional about a few basic life changes helped me unlock greater contentment, creativity, and calmness in my professional space. I also exercise which helps in improving mental health, boosts my mood, and increases my strength. I unwind by listening to gospel music. There is power in simplifying to only your auditory sense and allowing music to take you to a peaceful or spiritual place. It helps me achieve a more relaxed state. Who or what inspires you? Game-changing people everywhere – people who will stop at nothing to make a positive difference to other people’s lives. I am fortunate to come across quite a few of these game-changing people, and the desire to help (and keep up with them!) is what drives me. If you are creative, then inspiration can come from anywhere. Creators are never fully satisfied. They can always be better. I once interviewed South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe. He shared the secret behind his success: “You cannot inspire,” he said, “unless you’re inspired yourself.” He was speaking about passion. Every inspiring leader is abundantly passionate – not about the product itself, but what the product means to their customers.

How do you unwind? As the CEO, I make sure that timeout (mostly with my family) becomes

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Billy Seitshiro is a presenter, actor, producer, and entrepreneur.

Sustainable entertainment Creative people all over the world are obsessed with finding solutions that make the world better. This work is urgent. What measures are the entertainment industry taking to create content sustainably?

Working on film projects is a labour of love. This spring, shooting near the crystal clear mountain streams in the pristine Golden Gate Highlands National Park, had me thinking about how we can protect our natural environment. Recent United Nations reports predict that by 2025, two-thirds of the global population could be living under water-stressed conditions.

Africa, with its growing urbanisation, will be hit the hardest, and many of our wetlands will disappear. Storytelling through television, film and the visual arts can be a powerful motivator to raise awareness of sustainability issues to change our relationship with nature.  Years of Living Dangerously, an Emmy award winning documentary about the deterioration

of nature and the severe effects of climate change, explores the problems and solutions around global warming and protecting the environment. Watching it again from a different perspective triggered a new question: how should content producers respond to the sustainability challenge beyond storytelling? In 2017, Adidas sold over a million pairs of shoes made with


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Text: Billy Seitshiro; Image: Courtesy

guest column

recycled ocean plastic. Adidas has successfully integrated sustainability into their product portfolio without compromising on design, brand desirability and performance. Suitably inspired, I set about developing a checklist to reinvent my production company’s operations to include green practices from the outset. Film and television productions have an immediate economic impact on local communities and there are opportunities to source local props, extras and catering to ensure that these communities benefit from the production. We can also build social equity in communities by collaborating with local charities to donate leftover food, clothing and furniture to local people in need. Poorly managed film crew logistics often result in wasteful travel arrangements. Better route planning, ride sharing and the use of public transport can reduce the carbon footprint of a production. We can contribute to recycling efforts by limiting the use of disposable items and sorting waste at its source. I’ve begun overhauling my paperbased production management system and replacing it with a cloud-based online solution to reduce the use of paper and energy, with the upside being my business will be fully mobile, accessible from anywhere, without the constraints of business hours. These are realistic and achievable goals that can be scaled to any business on a sustainability journey. Surprisingly, my checklist has already resulted in reduced production cost estimates. Planning smarter with

sustainability in mind can improve business margins. Green filmmaking is well established in some international film markets, with a flourishing industry of environmental and sustainability consultants offering a range of services such as production carbon calculators, script reviews, sustainability audits and film set recycling. Major film destinations like New York City have production incentives and recognition programmes to encourage green practices. Film New Zealand, a pioneer of green film practice, has published an industry

in greater Mumbai. In every case, preproduction training of all producers and staff yield the best results. To create an industry wide movement to address issues of environmental sustainability, education and awareness are the only guarantee. The World Commission on Environment and Development eloquently describes sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. A 2017 sustainable living brands research study by Unilever points out that up to a third of shoppers made purchase

“To create an industry wide movement to address issues of environmental sustainability, education and awareness are the only guarantee.” sustainability toolkit and the British Film Institute developed a worldfirst standard for sustainable film practices. Hollywood film studios enthusiastically embraced carbon neutral production in the face of the shared threat of climate change.  In the BRICS countries, the director-producer duo of Biswajeet Bora and Maya Kholie have successfully produced the first Indian carbon neutral feature film, Aisa Yeh Jahaan, working with local NGOs to measure the emissions produced during production and offsetting these by planting more than 400 saplings in a  reforestation project

decisions based on sustainability credentials. This trend is accentuated in emerging economies where the negative effects of unsustainable business practices are more keenly felt.  With the sun setting over the red sandstone peaks of the Golden Gate Highlands, I can’t help but wonder whether African filmmakers leave their production locations and local communities better than when they found them. Will audiences someday demand transparency and accountability on green film production and include that in their criteria of what to watch? 23

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The essence of

AFRICAN FASHION Designer and business owner Sarah Diouf may have viewed her African multiculturalism as unconventional in the past but today, her mixed heritage is precisely the source from where she draws her inspiration and functions as a unique selling point for her contemporary clothing brand, Tongoro Studio.

Currently based in Dakar, Senegal, Sarah Diouf’s Tongoro Studio is making a mark on both the African continent and global fashion scene with her ready-towear designs that she describes as light, graphic, bold and timeless – a reflection of the easy-going lifestyle and vibrant culture of her surroundings. With the likes of superstar Beyoncé being a fan of the label (and donning not one, but two Tongoro looks on a recent European

yacht break), the brand has come a long way since its inception two years ago. In addition, Sarah is also the founder of Ifren Media Group, which publishes NOIR magazine, an online fashion and lifestyle platform for women of colour. Born in Paris but raised in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – and with parents of Senegalese, Congolese and central African descent – Sarah credits her mother for instilling her love of fashion 25

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at an early age. “She’s always been a lover of aesthetics and beautiful things. I would go on raids in her closet when she was travelling,” she recalls. But fashion was not her initial venture when starting out in her career. While enrolled in business school, Sarah founded Ghubar magazine, an online cultural publication aimed at promoting the emergence of the Arabic and African art scenes. She then completed stints as a junior media planner and listing assistant manager before joining the Marc Jacobs bookstore as a social media manager in Paris after graduating. Yet, she continued to nurture her creative ambitions by working parttime with photographer Jean Paul Goude’s styling team.“With all those great experiences in publishing, media and fashion, I was able to quit in 2013 to focus exclusively on my projects.” One project that came to fruition was Tongoro Studio. Sarah noticed a gap in the African fashion market that she was eager to fill. “When African fashion was starting to take over a few years ago, I noticed that most of the brands were positioning themselves as luxury, with a price point close to the global luxury powerhouses we know. I wanted to offer something more affordable – to give everyone the chance to own something that’s 100% ‘Made in Africa’. At the same time, she was – and still is – eager to change people’s perception towards locally made African goods by showcasing the sublime talent and exceptional quality, combined with the genuine passion birthed on the continent. Characterised by daring prints, striking silhouettes and light and airy fabrics, Sarah describes the ideal Tongoro woman as a “fearless adventurer”. As a designer, she is inspired by “African dances, music and rhythms” and uses this dynamism to fuel her creative process. “When I

listen to music, I visualise a mood the character I am designing for moves and evolves in. I think creating is a 360-degree process and perspective; you can’t design without considering an environment – it involves space, movement, sound and sight,” she explains. Dakar holds a special place in her heart, too. The location functions as another core component to her designs as well as the overall running of her business. “Dakar is a living cultural celebration, and encompasses a crossroads between tradition and modernism that fascinates me. It is also a very tranquil environment where people can express themselves freely and co-exist peacefully. To me, Dakar is a feeling — and to experience this city is to get the feeling of returning home to yourself.” However, she not only absorbs from the city but also wants to invest in it. “My long-term goal is to contribute to the development of retail production in Western Africa, starting with our first atelier here in Dakar. I aspire to contribute in structuring the profession, which, up until now, has been very artisanal,” she says. Through her business, Sarah trains her tailors to produce quality garments by respecting international standards, which has allowed the few people who work for her to improve their skillset and earn a better income. “I think that is upliftment on all levels,” she adds. While Tongoro aims to portray an authentically African narrative, Sarah believes that culture is a very ‘delicate’ subject matter. On the topic of Western designers adopting the aesthetic as just another passing trend, she says: “Western design houses should preferably work in collaboration with someone who understands [the culture] or who is from it rather than copying and pasting. “There is an essence and feeling

to Africa that only Africans can truly capture and translate well.” Yet she acknowledges that the global creative scene is large and there is enough space for everyone to express themselves: “Everyone has the right to be inspired and translate an aesthetic as long as it’s done rightfully and respectfully,” she says. As the spotlight on Africa as a creative hub grows ever more prevalent, many local designers continue to look abroad for trend forecasts and idea generation, but Sarah’s concerns are less seasonal and more sustainable. “Africa’s time is now and it is about time. We, as African creatives, need to start living our own culture and talent. “I pay attention to what’s happening everywhere, at all times; I believe you have to, but I am not really trying to incorporate trends into my brand. I want to offer pieces that can be worn over time. A beautiful piece remains a beautiful piece but trends can quickly become dated.” As Sarah utilises the digital space as her main business platform, she says she has no plans to expand Tongoro into a traditional brickand-mortar store. “The digital space has been the best tool so far to get people to embark on this journey with me. I’ve been able to reach a global audience and market, and share a story that has brought something new to the table in the spectrum of African fashion,” she notes. However, NOIR has a print publication in the pipeline, which will be released later this year. From her first-ever Fashion Week presentation in Cape Town in March, to working on numerous collaborations, including her very own documentary Building an African Dream that shares her career path so far, 2018 has been a stellar year for the force that is Sarah Diouf. With her business prowess, visionary ambitions and heart on her sleeve, there is no stopping this fashion tour de force.


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Text: Farah Khalfe; Images: Courtesy


“A beautiful piece remains a beautiful piece but trends can quickly become dated.� 27

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Connecting our





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Artist and activist Haroon Gunn-Salie uses the universal language of art to highlight how South Africa’s troubled past prevails in a present-day context.

Cape Town born-and-raised Haroon Gunn-Salie’s journey to becoming the artist and activist he is today, is rooted in an upbringing characterised by a first-hand account of a tempestuous fight for freedom, justice and equality at the height of South Africa’s apartheid struggle. While early memories of this experience are somewhat hazy – such as that of being detained in a military cell alongside his mother until the age of two – Haroon considers it a “conduit of narratives”. The chronicles relayed by his activist parents essentially function as the excerpts used to construct his own recollection of a past he now channels for inspiration. Innately, Haroon considers himself first an activist and then an artist. In fact, he didn’t think he was ever going to be an artist. Rather, the freedom of artistic expression presented itself as a solution, and a medium through which he could transform the fiery and potentially destructive energy of activism into energy that is positive and productive, and ultimately, into a form that can be accessed. From his final-year exhibition for the Michaelis School of Fine Art, entitled Witness, which was a collaborative project with veteran District Six residents in Cape Town and dealt with the pain caused by forced removals, to his first solo exhibition, History After Apartheid, showcased at the Goodman Gallery in 2015, Haroon reveals the core mission that underpins and is ever-present within his craft: “We have a role and a responsibility to make sure that the struggle continues. The best way to do that is to be involved on the ground and actively engage with how we can make South Africa and Africa better,” he explains. His latest work, Senzenina, tackles this head-on by bringing to the fore another unhealed wound of our nation — the Marikana tragedy of 2012. The multisensory, mixed-media installation is comprised of gunshots, the chanting of struggle songs and, arranged in a V-formation, 17 headless figures, crouched on their haunches. The figures represent the striking miners who were shot dead by police during protests at the Lonmin mine in the North West province — an incident, Haroon feels that changed the course of our history forever. The work can be considered a capsule, conjuring the collective pain, trauma and grief that once riveted through the country, but now, suspended in time, lies dormant as the massacre is overlooked as a blunder – a mishap in our democracy that’s buried in neglect. While the context is specific to South Africa, Senzenina has been presented at the New Museum in New York and the Frieze Sculpture exhibit in London, drawing powerful responses from foreign viewers who are able to relate to the trauma by connecting it to other injustices familiar to them. These include the spate of police brutality and racial inequality prevalent in the US as well as a massacre of workers that took place in Ireland. “The ability that the work has to transcend one issue alone and to resonate with so many ongoing struggles 29

“We think we are so divided when actually

our struggles are so connected.”

all over the world, across continents, is something that one could only hope for,” says Haroon. “We think we are so divided when actually our struggles are so connected.” The effects of the exhibit are not only far-reaching but also felt deeply on home soil. Haroon is the winner of this year’s prestigious FNB Joburg Art Fair prize — an accolade that honours artists creating meaningful dialogues and highlighting pertinent issues in society. His father, Cape Times editor Aneez Salie, eloquently summarised the magnitude of Haroon receiving this award: “I am very proud of him indeed. When the boere detained his mother and him in solitary confinement in Caledon, sewage ran through the cell and he got so sick with gastro his mother feared he wouldn’t make it. Out of the blue, a sympathetic female warden brought a district surgeon and Haroon was saved. “So from almost losing him back then, to the opening last night of his award winning exhibition, the most prestigious art prize in Africa is a great victory for him and for the struggle, which truly continues.” Aneez recalls that on Haroon’s


Text: Farah Khalfe; Images: Courtesy


release from detainment, “he recoiled at the sight of a cat, but knew to shake his fist at a cop van”. For the fair, Haroon created a reworked installation, presenting Senzenina from a different perspective. This took the form of a reflection space. Comprised of the three elements, the space enhanced and builton the original work by developing a hyper-realistic surround-sound experience, extended from its original seven minutes to 15 minutes in length. This was accompanied by an enclosed dome-like display reminiscent of the Marikana koppie on which the miners gathered. “It forces you underground. As you walk into that space you realise that because you’re under the koppie, you’re therefore in the mine,” explains Haroon. He elaborates: “The third element is what it does to the viewer and what it does in your mind – what it sparks. This collective safe space for reflection, for engagement, for consolement in some cases, was absolutely incredible. It really is encouraging me to further this work and to continue to put out stories like this – this sort of hyperrealistic forms.” What it sparked, according to

Haroon, is ultimately one of the main goals he aspired towards when creating this work. “My intention was to put this story into a form that is so real, it has the potential to make us, collectively as South Africans, want to do something. Whether it’s about Marikana, whether it’s about land restitution, gender or child abuse, the point is to put this story into such a powerful form that you leave not only shaken by the deep trauma that these people experienced, but also seeing your role and your experience in this democracy, and to continue the fight for a better life.” The real beauty of Senzenina is not in the work itself, he asserts. Instead, it can be found in the way that it provokes people; the way in which they take it on as their own and the immense reflections that are birthed from it. The multitude of elements Haroon combines in his work – from sight and sound to touch and thought – provides a rich and layered experience for the viewer as they are transported through multiple worlds of the past, present and future. This dichotomy of tackling injustices of the past by highlighting their lingering presence in the current

and future trajectory of South Africa, is a key driver that evokes such strong and emotive responses from audiences around the globe. When preparing for a show, Haroon equips himself with information and knowledge by drawing inspiration from current affairs and daily news. He then delves into the notion of ‘past, present and future’ by analysing a situation from different angles and establishing a stance that will move people. The forthcoming months will see Haroon travelling to Brazil, the UK and Sweden, sharing the South African story and continuing the fight for justice through his preferred weapon of choice – art. His next solo exhibition will take place in June 2019, while the Senzenina homecoming exhibition, with all the original sculptures currently in London, will take place next year. Cape Town residents can also look out for special commemorative events Haroon is involved in, honouring struggle stalwart Imam Abdullah Haron, on the 50th anniversary of his killing in apartheid security police custody. Haroon is named in honour of the imam. 31

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Industry leaders talk sustainability and eco-mindfulness 33

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The price we pay for

FAST FASHION With wide scale repercussions for people and the environment, the cumulative cost of fast fashion is worth more than just the shirt on your back – or the boots you bought at a discount.


green fashion With the closing of ‘fashion month’ this September, the forthcoming fashion trends for the spring/summer 2019 season were presented along the runways of New York, London, Paris and Milan, triggering a cycle that sees garments in similar styles and silhouettes being replicated and mass produced for department stores at more affordable prices. This process, known as the trickle-down theory, in which flamboyant haute couture is reconfigured and simplified into ready-to-wear looks for the average consumer, has occurred since the 1800s, but with industrial transformation and technological advancements, has continued to move at an accelerated pace over the years. Today, retail giants such as Zara, H&M and Topshop are characterised by rapid turnaround times in which new collections are able to move in and out of stores – from production to point-of-sale in quick succession. This concept is known as ‘fast fashion’ and, currently at the peak of its prevalence, has ignited a media frenzy and intense backlash for the wide scale ramifications it disperses through its supply chain. In order to fully grasp the effects it has on people and the planet, it is important to understand the nuances, as well as the social and environmental conditions that have amalgamated into what is currently the driving force of this highly lucrative and unregulated industry. According to Patrick Woodyard, co-founder and CEO of ethical and fair trade footwear company Nisolo, fast fashion is an industry that has become “completely defined by a lack of connection between the original producer of our goods and us as the end consumer”. This phenomenon has occurred over several decades, with the onset and expansion of globalisation. As trade barriers began to soften, major brands had the freedom to jump from one country to the next in pursuit of cheaper labour and materials. Driving down the collective cost makes way for more units to be produced, while a reduced selling

price of garments that are stylish and in-season are enticing for the trend-conscious consumer. Thus, corporations achieve fruitful profits through economies of scale, meaning a blueprint of ‘cheaper, faster and higher volume’ has become the tried and tested recipe for success. In fact, the industry today has reached its most profitable moment in history, generating approximately $585 million in revenue in 2018 so far, according to statistics portal Statista. Not surprisingly, apparel forms the largest segment of the market with a volume of $406 million in 2018. But, as posed by director Andrew Morgan in his film The True Cost, the question remains as to who bears the brunt of this success. The answer, it has become evident, are the clothes producers, the consumers and the environment. Labour relations Fast fashion’s consistent demand for cheap labour and high margins means companies frequently outsource their manufacturing processes to labourers in third-world and developing nations to improve their bottom line. Countries such as Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are known for their cheap labour practices, which is often contiguous with the practice of child labour. While governments have the power to enforce fair labour laws, some instead choose to strategically keep minimum wage at a low point in order to attract foreign investors from major apparel companies. According to Business Insider, India has the lowest minimum wage rate amongst large-scale economies, at only R4.05 per hour. However, according to their Minimum Wages Act of 1948, rates vary across industries, occupations and companies – resulting in remuneration that is unregulated and unfair. And that’s if workers even get paid. In many instances, they are cheated out of wages that are due to them. Back in 2017, Spanish retailer Zara came under fire when customers in Istanbul found unusual notes sewn

into their clothes. The notes came from Turkish factory workers claiming they had not been paid for making the merchandise and asking shoppers to support their campaign. “I made this item you are going to wear but I didn’t get paid for it,” one note reportedly read. However, this was not the first time Zara had been embroiled in controversy. The retailer had previously been accused of child and slave labour practices in Brazil and Argentina. According to Argentinian investigators, workers, including children, were allegedly discovered in slave-like conditions in factories producing clothing for Zara. They were reportedly forced to work 13-hour shifts without a break and could not leave the premises without permission. The workers were also believed to have been held against their will and had no official documents, as reported by The Telegraph. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates there are around 170 million children engaged in child labour worldwide. The United Nations defines this term as “work for which the child is either too young, work done under the minimum age, or work which, due to its detrimental nature or conditions, is considered altogether unacceptable for children and is prohibited.” This is a particular issue in the fashion industry as the majority of the supply chain requires lowskilled labour, with some tasks even considered better suited to children than adults. In cotton picking, for example, employers prefer to hire children for their small fingers, which do not damage the crop. The fashion industry supply chain is intricately complex and spread vastly across many countries, making it difficult for retailers to control every stage of production. Sadly, this makes it possible for manufacturers to employ children and labourers in immoral conditions without brands and consumers ever finding out or facing adequate consequences. Environmental impact Fast fashion comes at a grave 35

green fashion expense to the environment. Water pollution, the use of toxic chemicals and increasing textile waste are just some of the negative impacts on the planet, while pressure to produce rising volumes of garments at a reduced cost within tight timeframes, results in environmental corners frequently being cut. Vibrant colours, bold prints, textures and fabric finishes are some of the most appealing features of clothing items, yet these are often achieved through the use of harmful chemicals. Some of the most frequently used chemicals include chlorobenzene for colour dyeing, phthalates used to soften leather and rubber, and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), which are said to interfere with the hormone systems and reproductive development of humans. Despite being banned or strictly regulated in certain countries, the use of these chemicals in textile production continues to fly under the radar. Not only are they carcinogenic but they are bio-accumulative too. This means the substance builds up in an organism faster than the organism can excrete or metabolise it and, through the waste that is discarded, persists in the environment for long periods of time, threatening the health of wildlife and vegetation. Polyester is another manmade, energy-intensive synthetic fibre commonly used in fashion. The material has sparked major controversy for its artificial makeup of micro-plastics, which easily pass through waterways and end up in our oceans. Small creatures such as plankton eat the microfibres, which make their way up the food chain in other fish and sea creatures eaten by humans. Since these micro-fibres do not disintegrate, every piece of polyester that has ever been made is still in existence today, contributing to large mountains of textile waste dumped in landfills across the globe. In addition, other low quality textiles such as nylon and acrylic, as well as genetically-modified cotton, release methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and significant contributor to global


warming, into the atmosphere when decomposing. Their dyes and toxic chemical components infiltrate soil and contaminate both surface and groundwater. Globally, almost two billion kilograms of textile waste are put into landfills each year, while consumers are estimated to throw away approximately 31 kilograms of clothing every year, according to the UK-based Council of Textile Recycling organisation. Through these various elements of soil, sea and air pollution, it comes as no surprise that the fashion industry is the second most pollutive industry in the world, after oil. Game changers As calls for greater transparency and accountability in the fashion industry mounts to a head, and consumers become increasingly educated in the realms of ethical labour practices and purchase decisions, retailers have been pressured into taking cognisance of where, how and the conditions in which their clothing gets made. Fortunately, the calls for corporate consciousness have not fallen on deaf ears, with many introducing sustainable, ethical and ‘green’ initiatives into their overall retail strategy. Swedish brand H&M, one of the most prominent adopters of the fast fashion production cycle in the world, is subsequently leading the way when it comes to transforming their image and business model. For a company that previously kept a list of their manufacturer and supplier names under lock and key in a safe in Sweden, they have come a long way in terms of transparency. Now, all factory names and addresses in each country are readily available on the H&M website, as is their commitment to ensure fair and ethical working conditions. According to Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at H&M, the company aims to put environmental consciousness at the heart of their brand. In doing so, they invest in different strategies and have set

a number of sustainability targets outlined in their annual Sustainability Report – which is made available to the public. In 2017, 35% of materials used to make H&M’s products were recycled or sourced sustainably, and they aim to increase this to 100% by 2030. In addition, the prospects for reducing their carbon footprint is looking positive. Last year, 96% of the group’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, resulting in a 21% reduction of emissions from their own manufacturing operations. Now in its seventh year, the brand’s Conscious Exclusive Collection – a range that champions 100% recycled and raw materials – has grown from strength to strength. Alongside organic cotton, linen and silk, as well as eco-friendly ECONYL fibres and recycled polyester, the Autumn/Winter collection, which debuted in the Northern Hemisphere in September, includes recycled cashmere and velvet made from repurposed polyester. Much of their recycling also stems from their in-store Garment Collecting initiative launched in 2013. Customers are encouraged to hand in unwanted clothing, from any brand and in any condition, all-year round. During 2017, H&M collected approximately 17 771 tons of textiles, which were then reused or recycled into fresh textiles and new products. This way, less garments and textile waste ends up in landfills. Another brand at the forefront of innovation and environmental sustainability is Dutch denim pioneer G-Star RAW. The company adopts as ethos of ‘Raw Responsibility’, encompassing core values of environmental consciousness that filters down into every aspect of the value chain – from eco-friendly operations and a responsible supply chain to a sustainable product that lands in the hands of consumers. G-Star, along with H&M, is one of 17 leading apparel brands that have signed a Transparency Pledge. The pledge was drawn up by coalition of global unions and labour rights groups

Text: Farah Khalfe; Images: Unsplash

advocating for companies in the fashion industry to make information about their manufacturing supply chain accessible to the public. The brand has also incorporated a Fair Wage Project into their supply chain, which continually seeks to ensure workers are paid a living wage. When it comes to garments, G-Star’s advanced techniques and technological processes, which reduce the environmental impact of creating a pair of jeans, as well as their numerous green goals, have been widely publicised. These innovations, such a rotating air-drying system, which reduces energy consumption, and their aim to use only organic cotton in their garments by the year 2020, has cemented them as an industry-leader in ethical and quality denim production. The brand’s RAW for the Oceans capsule collections is one of their most ground-breaking projects to date. The sustainable range transforms plastic collected from the ocean into textiles, which is then used to produce G-Star’s iconic denim designs and other apparel. But it is their recent project, The Most Sustainable Denim Ever, that earned them a Gold-level certification from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. What makes these jeans so sustainable? It starts with the use of organic cotton. This saves 91% of the water used in the conventional water-intensive cotton crop, and eliminates the use of synthetic fertilisers and toxic pesticides. G-Star specifically developed a dye that uses 70% less chemicals too, while even the denim’s washing process during production formed part of a planned grey-water scheme. Replacing zippers and rivets, the denim is fitted with eco-finished metal buttons. Winds of innovation With the apparel industry estimated to grow at a rate of 5.9% per annum over the next three years, and currently worth in excess of $2.4 trillion globally, consumer appetite for disposable fashion is set to accelerate

“A blueprint of cheaper, faster and higher volume has become the tried and tested recipe for success.” exponentially. With the rise of online shopping sites, ‘Instagram boutiques’ and social media stores, the instantaneous and rapid nature of acquiring new fashion in even more accessible ways, forces brands to adopt speedier production processes in order to maintain a competitive advantage. Consequently, the industry’s carbon footprint and environmental impact will rise along with it. While there is nothing we can do to change people’s capitalistic conditioning and desire for new clothes, the behemoth that is fast fashion is one that could be embraced, and most importantly, maintained.

Instead of viewing sustainability as an obstacle to overcome, brands should look at it as a catalyst for innovation. By utilising technology in production processes, uplifting the communities in which their supply chain operates and employing ethical sourcing initiatives, retailers have the power to usher in a new era of responsible and ethical consumer buying behaviour and product standards across the industry. As they say, sometimes a catastrophe is needed to spark change and the whirlwind that is fast fashion is definitely being countered by small gusts of eco-friendly transformation growing stronger by the day. 37

Pushing the boundaries with

BIODESIGN Think: a learning insole that prevents fatigue, a breathing sports shoe that enables personalised ventilation by growing its own air passageways, and a T-shirt that responds to the environment by changing colour and alerting you to the air quality...


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green fashion

Text: Elske Joubert; Images: MIT Design Lab

This is called biodesign – the nascent aesthetic movement where the design process is inspired by living things like bacteria or plants. The company, Biorealize, in collaboration with PUMA and MIT Design Lab, is deploying this process in the manufacturing of its next generation athletic footwear and apparel. The deep learning insole The deep learning insole provides real-time biofeedback to athletes, resulting in increased performance. By using organisms, the sole is able to measure the chemical phenomena that indicate exhaustion and wellness. The secret to the success of the deep learning insoles: bacteria. These single-cell organisms, placed on the top layer of the insole, detect compounds present in sweat and respond accordingly by changing the

conductivity of the insole. The second layer registers these changes and the final layer sends the information to the athlete’s smart device. They can access information about their fatigue and performance levels in real-time. The breathing shoe Home to micro-organisms, this shoe comes with biologically active material that enables personalised ventilation by growing its own air passageways in order to keep feet cool. How does it work? The biologically active material learns a user’s heat patterns and then opens up ventilation based on these very patterns, thus, every athlete will end up with a unique shoe especially tailored to them. Carbon eaters This microbially active T-shirt

changes its appearance when responding to environmental factors. Based on this, the user receives critical information about the quality of the air around them. Adaptive packaging Research has gone beyond wearables to producing what is known as biologically programmable materials. These materials can change their structure and shape, thus becoming alive and biodegradable. Biomaterials can be used to create packaging sleeves, that, in response to heat, can inflate by emitting gasses. The packaging has a built-in lifespan, meaning that it can selfdegrade, leaving no waste. Still in research phase, it is unsure as to when exactly these products will come to market. 39

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Africa fashion



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fashion Authentic African

fashion The denim revolution officially hit the city of Durban when Elppag showcased at The BAT Centre. This self-dubbed jean and leather tonic session celebrated an authentic African brand with a global outlook that left tongues wagging. 41

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Head designer, Dumisane Kweyama, and his team presented raw and edgy designs. Their biker jacket was a hit with the attendees. These sessions prove that, even if someone is not following the fashion industry, they can still enjoy the latest trends. The brand aims to encourage self-sufficiency and wants to work with like-minded people in an effort to grow organically. Kweyama plans to organise more of these sessions in the future: “The event was a testimony to young black creatives that everything is possible if you believe in your craft and work hard.�  Elppag continues to carve a name for itself and has become popular among denim lovers from as far as Germany and Japan, but also those in South Africa looking for bespoke items of clothing. It is no wonder that the brand has created a cult-like following in the fashion industry being known for their raw and unconventional approach to denim and leather design that proves to be timeless and classic. The versatility of the brand aims


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Text: Kgoshi Segagabi; Images: The Denz Lenz

“Their raw and unconventional approach to denim and leather design proves to be timeless and classic.” to cater for every season and aims to offer a range of out-of-the-box clothing, shoes and accessories. Commenting on his inspiration, Kweyama said, ”I saw a gap in the market. So many people wear denim every day, but no designer in South Africa creates custom-made denim that fits different shapes and sizes.” Kweyama is self-taught, however, he spent most of his childhood with his grandfather, helping him with his work. “He was a leather craftsman and at that time I complained that he was making me work when I needed to go and play with friends, not being aware that he was passing his skill on to me. Unfortunately he passed away in 2003 before I could finish leather projects by myself. Nine years after my grandfather passed away, I paid attention to the creative spirit within me. Almost every night I dreamt of making great work, so I started practicing working with leather again.” Elpagg’s work can be seen at Box Shop in Soweto and in Durban at The BAT Centre. 43

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The Art of


Shaping purpose-driven Kenyan women through creativity After the birth of her second child, Idah Gakii was forced to let go of her daytime nanny and invest in a full-time babysitter. Realising that her decision would leave the mother of eight unemployed, sharing a similar fate of so many other women in Kenya, Idah decided to use creativity as a driving force for employment. Kwetu Décor & Designs is a collective formed to not only empower women but to showcase the characteristics of African women through art. This project is rooted in ‘Ubuntu’ – to help and serve those around us. Kwetu strives to empower and bestow livelihood to those who might be unemployed otherwise. How did the high unemployment rate amongst women bring fruition to this project? I decided to use arts and crafts because it is something a lot of women can relate to. African women have always expressed themselves well within art. I designed a few pieces and advertised them on Facebook and as they say, ‘the rest is history’.

Describe the production process – from concept to sale. We buy used tyres from workshops, bring them to our studio and wash them thoroughly. After the tyres are clean, we wrap them in coloured sisal and attach wooden pegs for legs. If we make a table, we add a glass tabletop. The craft is now ready to be sold. How do environmental responsibilities factor into production? We only use sisal products, which are eco-friendly. Our crafts are made from used tyres, so we recycle a rather harsh element in nature to make something beautiful. This also teaches the concept of recycling. We use what is already there to create something new. Take us through the design choices – both the cultural significance of materials and final patterns that dictate the look. In Kenya especially, sisal has been used to weave baskets for a very long time. It’s a product women know and can work with. It was also used to tie firewood and is thus a very


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green art

practical and efficient material that can handle wear and tear. We are using this traditionally raw material to make modern home décor pieces that stand the test of time.

Text: Johann van der Walt; Images: Courtesy

Women have a very important part to play in creative arts. Define the role African women play in this discipline and how you make your mark. Women pay attention to detail. They see patterns and shapes more holistically. They will always give great focus and attention to whatever project they work on to deliver creative and beautiful art. Women are also the backbone of society and they will always give it their best to whatever project they’re working on. I try and pay it forward by changing the chain of unemployment. If I can employ women and give them a goal, ultimately my craft becomes their craft, and those who buy our crafts share in our creative collective. We impact those around us. Can you describe some of the challenges that women face and what your biggest challenges in this venture are? In Kenya and Africa at large, men are twice as likely to receive formal employment. Women are left in large scale to face the challenges of unemployment and are forced to make ends meet with almost nothing. My biggest challenge is access to financial resources to train more women. Accessing bigger formal markets is also a challenge. Bigger companies have more revenue to spend on marketing and brand awareness.   Another logistical challenge is shipping,

especially for export purposes. It is very difficult to maintain a small business and be able to ship to multiple locations. Paying it forward to the community is something you strive towards. How do you see this initiative benefit the community and also your business? We currently employ seven permanent staff members and four casual workers. This venture helps women support their families. Paying it forward means we will eventually have more women employed and happier families. Children will be able to access education through this initiative. Through franchising my business will grow and Kwetu will become global.   What would you like to see happen for African women in the future? I would like to see more African women empowered and uplifting their communities. Our art is a reflection of us as women – beautiful, sophisticated and modern. The more women we get to train and see them hone their skills and making beautiful crafts, the happier I will be. I see the future, and it pivots around African women. Idah believes that collectives like Kwetu have the power to transform communities. When asked what we can do to change the lives of those around us, Idah answers optimistically, “Only if we as Africans come together and work in unison, creating together and helping each other, will we alleviate poverty on this continent.” 45

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From trash to

TREASURE Lizl Naude, the owner of Lilly Loompa, the business that creates hip and upcycled (or ‘hipcycled’, as they’d like to call it) homeware, says lack and necessity are what led her to found her business. “My husband and I are recovering nomads and have lived in and around the Western Cape and Johannesburg. I am a dreamer and a doer. Creativity is my essence and I love finding solutions to everyday problems. My passion is to create products that make people smile.” Lizl has traversed rough terrain on her road to success. After a freak accident in 2004, she found herself bed-ridden, and without work for nearly six weeks. “As a family, we have been through turbulent financial times, especially in the last decade. Losing your belongings has a way of teaching you to live with less. It also instilled the philosophy of ‘use what you have’ in me.” During these times, Lizl found herself hustling to put food on the table. “I prayed for a solution, and found that the solution was waste. I suddenly saw waste material in a totally different light – I saw possibility. Waste is an unused mountain of possibilities,” she says excitedly. Lilly Loompa Hipcycled Homeware, a testament to Lizl’s creativity and resourcefulness, was launched two years ago and has since


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Text: Elske Joubert; Images: Kirsten Naude, Natalia Gabriels Photograaphy

green art

grown in leaps and bounds. “For us, our goal was to make upcycling hip! So we combined the words. We love using the word ‘hipcycle’ as it guides us in developing new products. I tend to focus on restoration and innovation. Keeping up with the trends can be very tiring.” Some of the popular products at Lilly Loompa include the famous ‘toona’ can and the Bell lamp. Lizl says the idea of the ‘toona’ can came to her in the middle of the night. “I was thinking of ways to reuse tin cans and my initial design included a pea/ baked bean can. It proved impractical because of the depth. The tuna can made much more sense, and was the perfect size and weight, especially for tourists. “I would like the ranges to reflect our diverse country and cultures, through colour and fun designs. The rhino design was chosen to create awareness of the senseless poaching problem. Table mountain is a natural choice; I am from the Western Cape and my husband is absolutely obsessed with the mountain. Africa… well what can I say? I am Africa. It is in me and I am in it.” The idea of the Bell lamp came from the fact that Lizl likes her designs to tell a story. “Inspired by

all the slave bell towers around the Western Cape, this design repurposes discarded wood and a tin can to create a beautiful, functional homage to those who built this land from the ground up. The can is adjustable and can move up and down. I try and keep it simple. The tin can is purposefully kept unpainted to symbolise the rawness of the legacy of slavery.” According to Lizl, it is often at times of lack that we are more prone to innovating. “Lack has made us as Africans extremely innovative. We should view this as an advantage. Our neighbourhoods and landfills are filled with waste, but this is partly due to informal settlements not having sufficient services, and a lack of education. This education should start at school level. We should also place more emphasis on households doing their bit by recycling. I think we still have a long way to go, but we have

made huge strides thus far.” Lizl has always had a passion for the environment and sustainability. “I remember as a child, I used to love playing under trees and studying the birds. At that stage I really wanted to make that my career. But when I became an adult, it was a different story. Life required of me to find a job and pay the bills. I would say my consciousness about recycling and the environment started in 2009. I remember sourcing containers to start sorting my recycling. I even supported the local school by donating my recycling to them as they got paid to recycle,” she says. Her top tips for leading a more sustainable life? “Be conscious and aware of your daily choices when it comes to food, packaging and reducing waste. We are long passed just sorting our recycling. We need to up the ante. The times we live in requires a total change of mind and adapting our choices to more natural and sustainable ones. “Switch off the lights when you leave a room, re-use your greywater for your garden, and switch to gas. Also look at alternative building material to build your home. Insulate your home thoroughly so you can save on heating and cooling.” 47

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Leonie Joubert is a South African freelance science writer, author and journalist with a special interest in climate change, biodiversity, natural history, agriculture and energy issues.

Protecting the dwindling ‘diamonds of Bobirwa’ Every summer, in step with the season’s rains, the mopane woodlands of eastern Botswana come alive with caterpillars that people have harvested for centuries. But mopane worm numbers have dwindled here in recent years, as rains come less predictably, and more people lean on it as a source of food and income. How the Botswana government responds to the population crash of this creature can have lessons for other southern African countries, as the region becomes hotter and drier, and people’s livelihoods are threatened. When the summer rains come to the eastern parts of Botswana, people travel to the region from hours away, and head into the mopane woodlands in search of the ‘diamonds of Bobirwa’. The caterpillars of the region’s distinctive emperor butterfly break from their eggs in time with the rains, and explode in a feeding frenzy on the leaves of the mopane trees. That’s when people gather them up by the bucket-load, and take them back home to use as food for themselves, or to sell at the local market. For generations, people have dried the caterpillars, and cooked them into a relish, or ground them into powder which is mixed this into porridge or yoghurt. Some people travel from as far as South Africa, going there when the caterpillars flush to buy the dried insects for use in cattle feed. The powdered mopane worms are mixed into sorghum meal with a bit of salt, which is used to feed their livestock.

It’s an important source of protein and income for the people of Bobirwa. But mopane worm numbers have dwindled in recent years, explains local ecologist Ephias Mugari. This is due to extended periods of drought, but also because of greater pressure on it as a resource from a growing number of people. He recommends that if the Botswana government are to stop the insect population from declining even further, they should consider reviewing the conditions of permitting and monitoring that govern how people harvest the insects each year. Government might even consider closing the harvesting season for two or three years to allow the resource to recover. Mugari, a doctoral researcher at the University of Botswana, has visited the Bobirwa district several times since starting his research there in February 2016. His aim is to gauge

the extent to which the local people depend on various ecosystems for wild sources of food, medicine or fodder for their animals, and understand how rising global temperatures and shifting climate are impacting on the availability of these natural resources. “Botswana is one of the subSaharan countries that is most vulnerable to climate change, for various reasons. I visited this specific area to establish all the important ecosystem services that people in Bobirwa rely on, especially those that are linked with the state of natural vegetation and are therefore responsive to climate,” he explains. “Mopane caterpillars, what we call phane in Botswana, are a key part of these ecosystem services. They’re an important source of protein and income, and the health of the mopane caterpillar population depends on the condition of the mopane woodlands, which are affected by rainfall.”


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Text: Leonie Joubert; Image: Courtesy


Mugari visited ten villages in the sub-district throughout his research. When he returned to the region in February, the rains were late again. The mopane caterpillars usually flush with the rains in December, and again in April. Farmers also time their crop planting with the rains. But even by the height of the summer, Mugari found that many of the farmers in the region had not planted any crops yet, as a result of the lack of rain. Botswana: getting hotter and drier Botswana’s distance from the cooling effects of the nearest oceans or humid tropical forests is one of the reasons it is expected to warm faster than many other countries, as atmospheric carbon dioxide rises. As a landlocked country, it is already vulnerable to climate change, with higher temperatures and longer, more severe drought becoming the ‘new normal’, according to Tiro Nkemelang, a climate scientist at the Botswana Institute of Technology Research and Innovation. “Global temperature warming is already set to exceed 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, but Botswana will cross that threshold much earlier because of its semi-arid climate,” he says. According to a recent climate modelling study done by the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI), based at the University of Cape Town, researchers found that this 1.5°C average increase could occur as early as 2024. “The climate modelling suggests that with a 1.5°C increase in temperature here, Botswana will see greater temperature-related extremes: more heat waves, an increase in warmer days, and fewer cooler days,” says Nkemelang, who conducted some of this modelling while studying at the ACDI. Periods of drought are expected to last longer, with fewer rainfall events breaking them, according to Nkemelang’s modelling, but when the

rains do come, they are likely to be more intense, resulting in flooding. The overall climate trend will be one that is hotter and drier. Because people in semi-desert countries like Botswana are dependent on rain-fed agriculture, longer, more severe droughts with shortened and less predictable rain seasons will have significant impact on crop yields and food availability. Communities like those visited by Mugari in Bobirwa generally have a low asset base, making them highly dependent on the natural environment for resources: food for themselves, fodder for livestock, fuel and building materials, water, and so forth. The case of the mopane woodlands and its caterpillars in eastern Botswana, shows the extent to which populations in semi-desert parts of southern Africa are dependent on healthy ecosystems. “When I questioned the villagers in the Bobirwa district about their experience of harvesting mopane caterpillars over the past decade, most said there had been a significant decrease in the insect’s abundance. They also said that the caterpillars’ flushes were inconsistent, that one season they’d appear near one village but not another.” He said the locals saw a clear link between declining caterpillar numbers and ongoing drought in the region. He also found clear signs that growing demand for the resource was putting unsustainable levels of harvesting pressure on the insects. “If people want to harvest mopane caterpillars in Botswana, they are required to have a permit from the state. The permit only costs two pula — about R2.70 — and there is no monitoring of harvesting. People just travel out into the woodlands and collect whatever they want,” says Mugari. “They’re also digging up the pupae buried in the ground towards the end of the harvesting period.” Even though this food source is

known colloquially as the mopane ‘worm’, it’s not actually a worm, explains Mugari. A worm is a type of animal, like an earthworm. This mopane caterpillar is the juvenile life stage of an emperor butterfly species, the Gonimbrasia belina. In the case of this butterfly species, the adults lay their eggs on the leaves of the mopane trees usually twice during the rainy season. The eggs hatch, leaving caterpillars to feed on the leaves and grow rapidly. Once they’ve completed this part of their life cycle, they crawl down to ground level, bury themselves in the soil where they go into pupae phase, and will stay there for several months, until the next rains come. Emerging as butterflies, and unable to eat, these insects only have about four days in which to mate and lay eggs, before they die. If people dig up the pupae, they’re taking away from next season’s breeding stock, says Mugari. How should the Botswana government respond, to address this population crash? “The state can’t do anything about adverse climate change,” says Mugari, “but it should consider working with traditional leaders and local authorities to monitor and enforce permit conditions more strictly. They might also consider banning mopane caterpillar harvesting for two or three seasons, to allow the population to complete a few breeding seasons, and bounce back.” Key to supporting the communities that depend on the mopanes is to ensure that they have other ways of making a living or surviving off the land. If there aren’t phane to harvest, people need alternative livelihood options to rely on. This article was funded by Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR), a research consortium looking at climate change in semi-arid parts of Africa and India. 49

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Eating green The susta ina


wa yf


rw d ar Primavera pesto pasta


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green eating It has never been more important for South Africans to take a closer look at what they dish up on their plates. Food not only impacts our health, but it also has a tremendous effect on our natural resources, animals and environment. We are in the midst of an environmental catastrophe with the drought taking its toll on our agriculture and everyday lifestyle – and our health isn’t better off either. With the phenomenal benefits that a plant-based diet brings, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of South Africans are opting for plantbased food. Eating plant-based food at least once a week can help reduce the serious health, environmental and animal welfare problems that stem from raising 77 billion land animals and countless aquatic animals for food each year. I run the Green Monday programme in South Africa: a fun, flexible and delicious global movement that has been implemented in six different countries, of which South Africa was the first. The movement encourages South Africans to eat ‘green’ in order to reap the many benefits of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Eating green is great for our health. Obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and high blood pressure are some of the lifethreatening chronic illnesses that South Africans battle against daily. We are undergoing a ‘nutrition transition’ – shifting from a traditional diet to a more Westernised one, with greater fat and sugar intake, and a significant increase in animal products. In just 10 years, our pork intake has increased by 77% and poultry intake rose 63%. We are consuming more beef, eggs and dairy. In South Africa, nearly 30% of men and 56% of women are either overweight or obese, according to the Medical Research Council (MRC) and “growing rates of overweight and obesity worldwide are linked to a rise in chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” the World Health Organisation (WHO) cautions. Most South Africans are unaware

that there is a delicious solution to their health hitches: studies have proven that eating a predominantly plant-based diet can prevent, treat, and in some cases, even reverse chronic diseases. The health of our planet is compromised by our bad food choices. Raising animals for food contributes to dangerous climate change, deforestation, water pollution and water shortages. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has said that the animal agriculture sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global.” Studies show that farm animal production alone accounts for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Producing meat, milk and eggs also contributes to depleting South Africa’s scarce water resources. Whether for growing feed, cleaning housing enclosures, hydrating the animals, disposing of their waste or disinfecting slaughtering equipment, animal agriculture requires huge amounts of water – water we are desperately trying to save.

times as much to produce a kilogram of beef. Another environmental problem that stems from animal agriculture is land degradation. In South Africa we use more land to raise and feed farm animals than for any other single purpose. More than 97% of soy meal and more than 60% of the barley and corn produced globally are fed to farm animals. Farm animal production is responsible for the degradation of approximately one-fifth of global pastures and rangelands. Finally, eating more plant-based food saves millions of animals. More than one billion animals were slaughtered in 2013 in South Africa alone. The majority of chicken, meat and eggs produced in South Africa come from animals intensively confined in factory farms, their lives bearing no resemblance to the way most of us envision farm life. Eating plant-based offers so many benefits, there’s really no reason why we shouldn’t consider adding more ‘green’ meals to our diet. You don’t have to compromise on flavour; plant-based foods taste

“Eating plant-based food at least once a week can help reduce the serious health, environmental and animal welfare problems.” This year, South Africa faced its worst drought yet, forcing citizens to implement extreme measures to save every last drop. According to the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs, the demand for water in South Africa will be outstripped by 2025. Sixty percent of our water supply is used for agricultural use, including animal agriculture. Amazingly, it takes more than 4 000 litres of water to produce a kilogram of chicken meat and four

incredible and there are so many options available – whether you are cooking at home or dining out. With the Green Monday movement, we are trying to make it as easy as possible for South Africans to do so. We’ve implemented green meal options in university residence dining halls, helped restaurants create vegfriendly menus, and worked with government departments to teach communities how to cook nutritious plant-based dishes. 51

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SPINACH AND POTATO HOTPOT Recipe by Leozette Roode



• 1 bunch of fresh spinach • 4 potatoes, chopped in chunks • 4 tomatoes, chopped in chunks • 1 onion, chopped finely • 2 tablespoons oil • ½ teaspoon salt • ¼ teaspoon of curry powder • ¼ teaspoon of turmeric

• Cook potatoes till tender, drain and set aside. • Fry chopped onions in oil and add spices. • Add potatoes and cover in onion mix. • Add tomatoes and cook for another two minutes. • Add spinach and cook until just wilted. • Mix together well and serve with rice or samp and beans.


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Text: Leozette Roode, media and outreach manager, Humane Society International; Images: The House of Vizion

green eating


INGREDIENTS • 750 ml cooked pumpkin • 1 litre water  • 625 ml maize meal  • 60 ml sugar  • 5 ml salt Curried cabbage:  • 45 ml oil   • 1 large onion, chopped  • 750 ml cabbage, finely chopped  • 3 potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed 

• 15 ml curry powder • 15 ml ground paprika  • Salt to taste METHOD 1. To make isidudu: boil water, then add sugar, salt and pumpkin, stirring to mix. 2. Add maize meal and mix well. 3. Leave to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 4. Heat oil and add onion, cabbage, potatoes, garlic, curry, paprika and salt and sauté until soft. 5. To serve, spoon curried cabbage over isidudu. 53

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An agent for



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green education


Text: Elske Joubert; Images: Courtesy

Environmentalist Adenike Akinsemolu is the founder of The Green Campus Initiative, a pioneering organisation that aims to empower young people to become environmental and social change makers in their local communities. Adenike has always been an avid rural dweller, cementing the quiet and foliage as the favourite part of her childhood, and championing the peace away from the din of urban living as something all of us should seek out. Having lived in many rural environments abroad, Adenike noticed that these places were clean, despite their rural nature. She witnessed how the people in these communities cared about disposing of waste properly, and so a passion to educate her own community about sustainability was birthed. According to Adenike, The Green Campus Initiative was born out of sheer curiosity. “I had been to parts of the world where students were living their lives without hurting the environment simply because they knew better,” she says. “When I started teaching, I strongly disliked the environment I found myself in. Students would litter without as much as a wince. I wanted to introduce a better way of doing things. A healthy environment is vital for a healthy existence, and I wanted all of us to aspire to make our environment better for future generations.” So, one day during class, Adenike asked her students what it meant to ‘go green’. “I wanted to teach them about ‘green living’ and help them see that their actions could have a direct impact on the environment, which in turn could have a direct impact on their general well-being. And this is ultimately the ethos behind The Green Campus Initiative.” Adenike’s area of expertise is predominantly an emerging field of biological research called ‘green microbiology’ – inspired by microorganisms that control environmental hazards at its source by providing safer products and services to a growing world population. “Microorganisms are perfect examples of ‘the small but mighty’. Despite their minute size, they have a huge impact on our lives. Thus, understanding their role in the environment is vital to the maintenance of our planet and the preservation of biodiversity.” Adenike relays the numerous positive functions microbes perform in the environment, stating the importance of exploring the microbial world astutely, as it has the potential to contribute significantly to sustainable development. However, she also sternly cautions, “We cannot solely rely on these microbes. Sustainability can only be achieved through the concerted efforts of all life forms – humans, plants, animals and microorganisms. Together, we can create a better world for future generations.” Commenting on the status quo of sustainability in Africa, Adenike says the tendency by people in Africa to

stick to what they know, and resist (or even avoid) change could deter the continent from moving toward a more sustainable future. “Many people in Africa tend to choose the status quo when grappling with difficult choices about sustainability. The difficulty associated with making the right decisions in the urgent need for a more sustainable Africa drives many to stick to the familiar,” she says. “There is a natural fear in Africa about change geared toward sustainability; it is not a priority for the continent as it does not rank high enough compared to more pressing issues like disease, AIDS, corruption and hunger – issues that plague Africans daily. Perhaps it is not change that presents the challenge for sustainability, but the fear of change.” In terms of what can be done to urge Africans to become more environmentally aware, Adenike says information and education should be enhanced to ensure that people can access timely data on the environment, thus better equipping them to make sound decisions. “For this to be achieved, there is a need for environmentally oriented education to be included in the curriculum – from primary school to tertiary education level. Science and technology need to be further embraced for people to understand the technologies that could solve environmental issues afflicting them. Adopting science and technology at all levels will be critical for the continent to move beyond what is known.” “Finally, governments need to play an active role through programmes that empower its people – especially the youth – to conserve and protect the environment. Encouraging the youth and other citizens to engage in green entrepreneurship through incentives could be one of the ways Africa could promote environmental awareness.” Commenting on her top tips for leading a more sustainable life, Adenike notes the following as most important: “Reduce household energy use: turn off lights and appliances when they’re not in use, install energy-efficient appliances, open windows for cool air instead of using air conditioning, and hang clothes rather than using the dryer. “Eat locally rather than relying on foods that have been imported. Recycle as much as you can and buy products that are labelled post-consumer. Reselling and donating items is another excellent way to extend the life of your products. “Furthermore, opt for the mass transit options available in your area, and rely more on alternatives such as carpooling, vanpool services, bus and light rail train systems. Cycling is also a good way to keep fit and save money while reducing the number of carbon emissions.” 55

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A buzz about CONSERVATION Dr Williams Fowlds, renowned wildlife vet and conservationist, speaks to African Independent about the use of drones in conservation, and on improving a holistic response to the crisis facing endangered species.

With regards to the poaching of endangered species, what are some of the challenges you have faced that have been solved through the use of technology? Technology has been used for 3040 years in conservation, but very few improvements have been made – mainly because of the limitations of battery capacity. We already use technology in monitoring and research with the use of camera equipment. The security aspect has been greatly advanced but in terms of anything related to animals, we are

limited by battery life and cannot deploy the vast advances that technology has made available to us yet. The use of drones is making headway as a commonly used device in wildlife conservation. What are your thoughts on the effectiveness of drones in conservation? Drones are being deployed across a few areas in South Africa. Currently the cost of effective drones is too high for most rhino owners, however, the trend and speed of technological development, as well


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Text: Elske Joubert & Farah Khalfe; Images: Courtesy & sourced

as the reduction in price as drones become more commercially available, looks very promising. I have no doubt that there will be good use for drones in conservation. Currently they are limited to observation around a relatively short radius of line of sight, and limited mostly to daytime operations with very little security application. The drones are used more in monitoring and animal surveillance. What unique capabilities/functions would drones require if they were to be implemented in anti-poaching initiatives? For a drone to be effective in anti-poaching initiatives they need to be able to see in the dark. I believe that thermal cameras are a vital tool. Effective drones need to have endurance and be able to stay in the air for more than 30-40 minutes. Endurance for me would start at a minimum of two hours and last as long as possible. Drones need to take off and land vertically, which limits the requirements for expensive runways and the damage that can occur when drones are forced to land on a conventional runway. Most importantly, the costs and ease of use have to be reduced substantially. Reserves would be able to afford a fully kitted drone for less than US$7000 (±R100 000) and can therefore begin to integrate the technology into their anti-poaching systems.

What are the setbacks of using drones in conservation? There is very good technology out there, but the costs are largely prohibitive for the military grade equipment. Cost is definitely a rate limiting factor. The complexity of this technology is the manpower component which might mean employing additional people to operate the equipment. This might improve in time as their specific functionality gets better. Have you seen significant changes in the conservation of wildlife since deploying drone technology?

decreasing for us to reach 100% of the areas that we need to cover. Aside from drones, are there any other trailblazing digital and technological trends on the rise? And how will they impact various industries? The biggest challenge with all technology is power. If we can get around the power issue, then we have stacks of good technology that we can deploy in conservation. I am currently not aware of anything that is on the horizon with regards to power generation, but I think it’s the holy grail of most small digital devices. I do think there are people around the

“The trend and speed of technological development, as well as the reduction in price, looks very promising.” Only small changes localised to areas that can afford the equipment or where this equipment has been donated. We are just impacting a fraction of the surface area – less than 1% – that we are going to have to cover. And the quality of that impact I believe is still in research and development stages. It requires the current trajectory to keep going as well as the cost trajectory to keep

world working on it for commercial benefit and not just for conservation benefit. In terms of technology beyond drones, cameras and radio equipment – there is work being done on different sensors like LiDAR, fibre optic cables and signatures. There is definitely thought going into it, but research and development can take years so we are not sure how long it will take to hit the ground. 57

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From HUMBLE beginnings Nonhlanhla Joye was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and found herself unable to provide food for her family. She decided to grow organic vegetables in her backyard, and after many setbacks, she came up with an innovative growing system that enabled her to grow vegetables using diversified plastic bags. Nonhlanhla started teaching other community members to grow nutritious vegetables, which is how her business started taking shape. Umgibe Organics Farming and Training is an innovative, 100% indigenous solution to food security. The organisation has assisted more than 790 households and provides a sustainable source of income by growing vegetables 365 days a year. Today, Nonhlanhla supports 51 co-operatives around KwaZulu-Natal and a total of 603 members, which impacts over 3 000 of their family members.Â

What benefits do organically grown food hold for people? Every cent spent on local food growers helps to strengthen the local economy, and contributes to saving our environment. Eating healthy improves nutrition and reduces diseases, which are a drain on resources. A healthy population is a productive population. Impact farming is a global trend. Why, in your opinion, has this become such an important way of life? With the population expanding


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green farming

Text: Elske Joubert; Image: courtesy

at such a rapid pace, we need more food. When people are hungry, it leads to social strife. I remember I had no peace when I was hungry – I would have done anything in my power to feed my family. Sustainability is a buzzword of late. How else is your company making a positive impact on the environment? We use biodegradable growing bags as part of creating a sustainable environment. Umgibe Farming Organics and Training is a carbonsaving, ecological, organic, incomegenerating vegetable-growing system that provides a platform to market vegetables grown by grassroots farmers in South Africa. The Umgibe system is cost-

“I remember I had no peace when I was hungry – I would have done anything... to feed my family.” effective, requiring little input, no chemical fertiliser and no weeding or pesticides, and very little water. We divert more than 10 000 plastic bags from landfills by utilising them as growing bags. We also cut carbon emissions by reducing transport activities in local food provision. What have been some of the most significant changes you’ve seen in your community since the founding of Umgibe Farming? Empowerment of communities

– training community members in organic farming, crop production and food processing. This year, 100 girls from 10 schools were introduced to farming through Umgibe Stop Hidden Hunger. The programme will run for 12 months after which the girls will be given a chance to develop their own businesses. They will receive self development courses on a biweekly basis. These girls will have a chance to provide a solution to food insecurity in their communities. 59

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Spearheading CHANGE An interview with Heidi Newton-King, head of sustainability at Spier Wine Farm

Spier, a luscious estate in South Africa’s well-known winelands, offers more than just an escape from the city. Their ethos of custodianship underscores their commitment to their surrounding communities and the impact on the environment. These commitments inspire their sustainable approach to business and development. This approach views both the farm and the region holistically, and it’s through collaborative partnerships that they have managed to extend their reach beyond direct business impact and into their community. Tree-preneurs is one of Spier’s Growing for Good learning initiatives, which empowers staff and communities to create positive social and environmental change. The project teaches more than 100 people from some of the Cape’s poorest communities how to care for indigenous trees and plants. Ranging in age from seven to 97, these Tree-preneurs are given seedlings to nurture. Once they have reached 60 cm in height, the plants can be exchanged for food vouchers, agricultural goods, tools, bicycles, and educational support. The Tree-preneurs project was originally established in KwaZuluNatal by Wildlands NGO, and is now operational in more than 24 communities countrywide. The driving force behind the Tree-preneurs is Lesley Joemat, a Spier employee who has built a personal relationship with growers, visiting them on a weekly basis to


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sustainability distribute seeds, containers, soil and compost, and to offer advice on growing trees. She is passionate about the people involved, as well as the positive impact the project has on the environment. What have been some of the results in relation to these initiatives, within the business, but also within the surrounding communities? The partnership has facilitated the establishment of a local network of Tree-preneurs in seven communities – Blikkiesdorp, Kalkfontein, Lynedoch, Heather Park, Tafelsig, Nagenoeg and Klapmuts. Thousands of trees grown by these Tree-preneurs have been used by the Stellenbosch Municipality Million Trees greening initiative. The Tree-preneurs project has also supported the Stellenbosch River Collaborative (a multi-stakeholder

partnership which aims to restore health to the Eerste River catchment) through the establishment of a team that is currently rehabilitating the Plankenbrug River. The social impact this project has on the lives of ordinary people is heartwarming – Babs Visagie from Heather Park is one such example. She runs a food kitchen, using the vouchers earned from her trees to buy food for orphans in her community. Since Babs joined the project in 2011, she has bartered 7 500 trees and has grown more than 2 000 Spekboom plants. We also focus on reducing waste-to-landfill and have been able to support the Tree-preneurs with containers for their seedlings. This full-circle approach has a much greater impact on the commitment from our team who can make the direct connection between

their actions and improving the opportunities of local community members. What are your top tips for leading a more sustainable life? Every day we make choices that could have an impact on us and affect our children’s futures. Whilst this might seem daunting, it is important to find the ways we can live more consciously. Using Tree-preneurs as an inspiration for some ideas, I would suggest: • Take your own reusable bags when shopping. • Avoid single-use plastic. • Find practical and innovative ways to reuse and upcycle items. • Recycle everything you can. • Plant a home herb box or veggie garden and reconnect with your food and how it is grown. • Reduce your food waste. • Make your own compost. • Plant a water-wise garden. • Encourage long-term behaviours that conserve water and other precious natural resources. • Spend time in our beautiful natural spaces to inspire your future choices.

Text: Elske Joubert; Images: Spier Wine Farm

HEIDI NEWTON - KING Spier Sustainability Director Fired up by Spier’s intention to build a powerful values-based culture and sustainable business practices, Heidi joined the team in 1998. She has been the lynchpin for many of Spier’s community partnerships and has brokered several successful collaborations. She is convinced that a sea-change is possible if we all do small things differently, every day. She has recently completed her MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility at Ashridge Business School in the UK. 61

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green housing


Text: Elske Joubert; Image: Courtesy

Trailblazer and founder of Hive Earth, Joelle Eyeson, says leading the pack in a male-dominated industry, especially in Africa, is not without its challenges. However, it’s these very challenges that drive her to succeed. Building homes with rammed earth not only allows Joelle to express her creativity, but she relishes in the fact that through her company, more people in Africa are able to afford a home.

Please tell us more about Hive Earth and what led to the founding of your business My partner and I were looking to build our own house. We are both advocates for helping the environment and were looking at alternative materials to build with. We stumbled upon rammed earth (building with mud). Upon concluding my research on rammed earth, I decided to partner with my co-founder and in 2016, Hive Earth was born. Some of the benefits are that it is ecofriendly, strong, keeps the room temperature cool, and is affordable (the current housing deficit is 1.7 million and rising, and there is a lack of suitable affordable housing). All the materials we use are recyclable and building with earth is 30-40% cheaper than conventional construction. Due to the labour intensity, we are also able to create employment. Have you always had a passion for the environment? Yes. I grew up in rural England where caring for the environment was ingrained in us. Coming to Ghana increased my passion for living green, as there aren’t a lot of sustainable initiatives here. Being in Ghana

really pushes you to become an advocate for the environment. In your opinion, what is the status quo of sustainability on the African continent? We have a long way to go. Sustainability in Africa and the preservation of our continent is the responsibility of the individual. We need to change our mind-sets and the way we treat the environment through education about sustainability. What more can be done in terms of the continent becoming more environmentally aware? People must be made aware of the consequences of not preserving our resources. There won’t be much of an Africa left for our children. Your top tips for leading a more sustainable life? Recycle as much as possible. In Ghana we have an issue with plastic – it’s used for virtually everything. Instead of buying water, fill up your reusable flask. When buying food, use your own container and if you’re going shopping, reuse your bags or use jute (woven) bags. 63

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final say

Smoke bombs and similarity: is this how we sell things now? Over the years, Nando’s has not only given us peri-peri flame-grilled chicken, but food for thought via their adverts, campaigns and social commentary, with their latest ad questioning the increase of ‘Afro-futurism’ on our screens. There is a new look to South African ads and we are seeing more of it every day: the neon, the ‘poverty porn’, the #s, the coloured smoke bombs, the fetishised African tribalism. I think we can agree – it all looks the same. We had to ask: Is this how we are selling things now? In developing the concept for our most recent ad, we wanted to start a conversation about the recurring trend many have noticed in the advertising space: the surplus of ‘Afro-futurism’ adverts brands are using to market to young people. We wanted to address the current portrayal of what has become a stereotypical and singular view of ‘Africanness’, and to drive

the sentiment that there is more than just one flavour to South Africa. Whilst making the ad, we uncovered over 40 examples of what we’ve termed ‘Afrotising’ produced in the last three years. We think it’s great that brands are moving away from international culture and celebrating our African identity, but this identity has many faces, and we need courage to explore them. It takes a lot of pluck to start these conversations, but when we do it with the intention of sharing sentiments instead of being controversial, we find that South Africans have more to say. It’s not surprising that the advert brought about a host of other burning questions like: why do we market things this way? What does it mean?

Do we lack creativity? Is there a single South African identity? We love the aesthetic of African creativity and storytelling. It’s beautiful and rightly celebrated, but packaging it and offering one single view of what it means to be African is counterproductive. Nando’s prides itself on being a brave brand that has grown alongside South Africa’s young democracy. We understand that South Africa faces important constitutional and democratic challenges, but as a nation we are characteristically good natured and handle things the South African way. Being proudly South African, we take pride in joining conversations and sparking debate around all relevant topics that are in the public interest. Often this discourse involves leaders, individuals and organisations that threaten the hard-won freedom we enjoy as a country today and are therefore not free from public scrutiny. We go out of our way not to be controversial as this implies a sense of division, and frankly what we need as a country now is less division and more honesty around our collective challenges. We’re delighted that our advertising (like our chicken) has been enjoyed by the majority of South Africans.

Text: Tlalane McWade; Image: Courtesy

Tlalane McWade, PR Manager at Nando’s South Africa


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African Independent Magazine - November 2018 Issue 05  
African Independent Magazine - November 2018 Issue 05