South Africa: Tensions Between White Farmers and the Black Population Fuel Economic Fears
The following is an excerpt from KRISTA MAHR | June 21, 2018 | newsweek.com |
It’s just after 8 on a crisp morning outside Besters, a farming village in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, and Mhle Msimanga is wading through his herd of cattle in a wire pen, calling out directions to his sons and nephews standing outside it. “The cows can’t get out if you’re all crowded at the gate!” the 48-year-old farmer yells, speaking the local isiZulu language. The boys move aside, and a few cattle trot out, meandering onto a dirt road that leads toward the low-slung mountains that spread out behind Msimanga’s property.
It wasn’t always his land. In 2005, the post-apartheid South African government bought about 1,112 acres from his former boss—a white farmer—and transferred the title deed to Msimanga and his fellow workers. It was part of a larger transaction in Besters that year: The government acquired over 34,590 acres from white South African farmers and transferred the ownership to nearly 200 black South African families, who, like Msimanga, had lived and worked on the land for years.
The deal changed Msimanga’s life and rewrote the future of his children. In 1991, he went from earning roughly $18 a month on this land to owning it, as well as a large herd of cattle. “There is no money in being a worker,” he says. “It’s only now I see money for all the work I put in.”
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