Meet Sibongile Mamba - Regenerative GUBA Farmer at Black Mamba
Black Mamba has a strong stance on uplifting and supporting small-scale farmers. One such farmer is the bubbly, determined Sibongile Mamba. At 68 years of age she is a force of nature, quick to make jokes but strongly dedicated to her newfound way of life.
Sibongile quit her job as a receptionist when her husband passed away and began training at the Guba Permaculture Centre in 2013. And she has been farming ever since! “I am so happy about farming because it keeps me busy, it makes me a better person at home. I don’t go gossiping in town with other women…” she says with a chuckle.
Guba plays a huge role in not only Sibongile’s life, but the entire Lobamba Lomdzala constituency as well. Applying the principles of permaculture to all aspects of community life, they aim to grow stronger, united communities that are resilient in the face of economic, social & environmental change. Claudia, Black Mamba co-founder and CEO (Chilli Enthusiast Officer) says:
“Eswatini is still a country that mostly uses traditional farming methods: mono-crops (a lot of sugar cane) and fertilizers. GUBA has brought a new, unconventional way of growing food that doesn’t need chemical inputs and shows that by growing different crops together they all thrive.
Permaculture is about this, about a communion between earth and people, but also about creating resilience in communities who are then enabled to grow healthy foods for their families and also get an extra income, like when they grow for Black Mamba.”
Sibongile grows a substantial variety of vegetables, herbs, and spices. Eggplant, carrots, and a wide variety of leafy greens for herself and her family. In addition, she grows coriander and basil for Black Mamba. It comes as no surprise then when she states that our basil pesto is one of her favourites.
“I love the jalapeno sauce and basil pesto. The habanero is too hot!” she exclaims.
A regular day for Sibongile starts at four in the morning when she wakes up to pray and read her Bible. By seven o’clock she’s out in her garden until lunchtime when she takes a short rest. Then she’s right back to the fields as there is a lot to do, especially at ploughing time. Five o’clock sees her heading home to cook dinner, catch up on world news and head to bed by ten.
Sibongile is a devout woman and as such prayer is important to her. When asked about it she answered confidently:
“God guides me in the fields and protects me from snakes”.
Eswatini is home to the black mamba, the most dangerous snake in Africa. Black Mamba took the name of this intimidating reptile and also supports the Eswatini Antivenom Foundation in its life-saving work through sales of their merchandise range.
Farming is Sibongile’s passion, and while she spends long hours caring for her homestead, she also takes care of her 33-year-old daughter (the youngest of four) who has epilepsy. She also enjoys watching football, and Googling how to use new crops when she gets seeds from Guba. Her loyalty to them runs deep as they’ve helped her launch numerous projects, and their consistent support and training has changed her life.
Black Mamba is proud to be working with such an incredible woman. As Claudia says,
“She is the symbol and representative of many women in Eswatini. Strong, determined and willing to improve her life and her family life through hard work.”