Mandela School Master’s students visit Khayelitsha

5 Feb 2019 - 15:30

Master’s in Development Policy and Practice students from the UCT’s Mandela School left Khayelitsha inspired on Tuesday, 29 January, after meeting various social entrepreneurs who have made a significant difference in their communities.

Mandela School’s Associate Professor Laurine Platzky took the students to Khayelitsha and surrounding areas as part of the degree’s Urbanisation and Job Creation module. Participants from countries such as Uganda, Malawi and Zambia are represented in the master’s group. Besides sitting in the bus and listening as Associate Professor Platzky told them about South Africa’s history, they saw for themselves how space was used by the apartheid government to separate and maintain privilege.

“Space was used to control people. The apartheid authorities removed black people from the centres of wealth and power and dumped them on the peripheries, at the local scale in townships and at the regional scale, in the bantustans,” said Platzky.  

“Today we are still marginalising people in space by allowing sprawling settlements, with the poorest furthest away from economic opportunity,” Platzky added.

The students also had an opportunity to hear from Andrew Boraine who has been extensively involved in South Africa’s local government, as well as urban and economic development. During his presentation, Boraine emphasised the importance of synergy between and within the three spheres of government. Students had an opportunity to engage with Boraine on issues including the Western Cape water crisis, the energy crisis in South Africa and the typical challenges faced by township economies.

For lunch students were taken to the Spinach King; a restaurant situated outside the Khayelitsha train station. Having previously been unsuccessful in the fashion business and in photography, the ‘Spinach King’, Lufefe Nomjana, became fascinated with the leafy green vegetable. “…but looking at spinach for me it was miraculous, something you plant today and have something to eat in the next three to four weeks. For me that was a miraculous thing,” Nomjana said.

He then worked with a dietician at the Michael Mapongwana Community Health Clinic in Khayelitsha, where he compiled further research on the nutritional potency of spinach. It was during this time that he had an idea to start making spinach bread. With just forty Rand as capital, his Spinach King business was established in 2011.

“…if you’re asking me, Lufefe, how much capital did you have to start your business? It was just R40, a neighbour’s oven, four bunches of spinach from the garden I used to volunteer from, and of course the intellectual capital.”

The Spinach King is now an international brand, with a Spinach King franchise in Amsterdam.

The students also had a chance to hear from the Department of Coffee’s Wongama Baleni. In his presentation Baleni shared his experiences as a social entrepreneur and what inspired him to bring coffee into the township. Currently the Department of Coffee trains barristers and has a programme called the Muffin Run, which provides muffins to children in the community.

The Mandela School’s Master's Degree in Development Policy and Practice develops students’ potential in strategic public leadership and offers a structured and sustained learning opportunity, at the cutting edge of global knowledge and experience. Participants undertake applied research in public policy design and implementation.

The course is offered on a part-time basis with 4 two-week intensive blocks in Cape Town over two years. The goal of the Master's is to equip participants with a new set of skills to enhance their capabilities as strategic leaders in the public sector, civil society or international organisations.