South Africa: The Steenbok AE Landscape project

Reviving culture, sacred sites, landscapes in Steenbok

Supported by Earthlore Foundation

The Steenbok AE Landscape ProjectArea of implementation

Steenbok, in Mpumalanga province, South Africa.

Vision and Priorities

The Steenbok AE Landscape ProjectThe EarthLore community dialogue methodology allows the community to analyse and reflect on their issues and find ways to engage that are largely informed by and connected with indigenous knowledge and the wisdom of elders.

In Steenbok, this process was started in 2021.

The vision is to revive the river, which relies on the revival of the trees in the forest and the crops that were part of the rituals and rain ceremonies. It is linked with the revival of our culture.

Actions and steps

  1. At first, the elders had dialogues on their own as they did not want to share their sacred knowledge with outsiders.
  2. The community was mobilised to understand why they lost their river, incl. siltation from soil erosion and pollution from a refuse dumped at the river bank.
  3. An intergenerational learning involving elders and youth, introducing the rituals and ceremonies that connect them with the river was conducted.
  4. Steenbok communities were invited to participate in the Bikita seed fair in Zimbabwe as inspiration to them.
  5. John Nzira, from Ukuvuna, visited Steenbock to discuss how the river can rehabilitated.
  6. An eco-mapping process that included the youth was conducted.

Lessons learned so far

The Steenbok AE Landscape Project

By going at the community’s pace in dialoguing, the issues are coming up one by one.

Farming is being abandoned in the Steenbok community because of the lack of rain and losing the traditional seed like sorghum. The maize and other seed used instead cannot survive the harsh climate prevailing in the area and leave the community with nothing to harvest.

The community is now understanding what they are losing from the contamination of the sacredness of the river and the nearby forest.
Communities have been trying to get assistance from the government to clean the river. Our big question is how to engage the government?

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