29 April 2022

The book draws inspiration from the works of earlier scholars on land and agriculture in Africa, and was compiled in honour of the late Professor Sam Moyo who was a leading scholar on land and agrarian issues. The book takes the land and agriculture debates further by analysing pertinent issues across many African countries. Having been at the core of Africa’s colonisation project, the land question has remained unresolved in many African countries.

Relying on empirical evidence, the book argues for the hastening of land reforms and for promoting agrarian-led development in Africa. It provides a fresh theoretical lens in assessing the land and agrarian questions, using radical agrarian political economy to underscore the imperative for decolonising the land and a basis for creating new platforms for social change and broadened accumulation by the indigenes.

Leading the virtual launch, Prof Gumede paid tribute to Professor Sam Moyo: “Several works have been published on Prof Moyo, but we felt the need to publish something in his honour as someone who has greatly contributed to our lives and careers. Dr Shonhe and I were both working at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute when we pitched the idea to the institute and it gained traction.”

Co-editor, teacher at the Thabo Mbeki School, and author of several books and journals, Dr Shonhe says the book has been a journey that was motivated by the land reform and agrarian questions, which remain unanswered to this day.

Dr Shonhe said the land issue is a subject many African scholars have debated on and written about.

“It is the work of previous scholars that have shaped the way we continue with the land debate today. It places the land at the centre of how Africa can retrieve itself and foster development as a continent.”

UMPUMP Students that attended the event.

“The book provides a fresh look and new ways of how to think about land and agriculture in Africa. The way we need to think about land and that it is part of the decolonisation process,” he adds.

“How we approach our minds and the kind of knowledge we apply, must change – we need an African perspective. Maybe in the past it was Eurocentric, which undermined the land question. The book and the contributors argue using empirical evidence of land reform and how land contributes to economic development.

“I hope scholars, academia, researchers, and doctoral students will have the opportunity to read this book. It is contemporary and affects the lives of Africans today.”

Dr Elina Amadhila from the Department of Management Sciences at the University of Namibia is one of the contributing authors. Her chapter examines why the youth are not interested in agriculture, existing environment, policies, and how accessible they are to the youth.

“I was aiming to reveal agriculture incentives in place for youth and the existing priority policies to create an enabling environment for agriculture-preneurs to carry out responsible agricultural investment systems in Namibia.

Currently the Namibian government supports all farmers regardless of age and gender. Support programmes are in place but the youth are not involved in political decision making and are therefore not interested in agriculture.”

Dr Amadhila adds that research shows that there’s lack of capacity development and limited opportunities for youth participation.

“Youth structures in the country need to be promoted. In the book I emphasise that engaging with the youth should not just be consultation.

Young people can be successfully involved in policy decisions making, programme designing, and management. But this requires improving the quality of jobs. It also includes promotion and investment in these areas where agriculture is practiced with a holistic approach.”

Former researcher at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute and currently a lecturer at the University of Freestate, Dr Moorosi Leshoele, is the author of the chapter: He who feeds you controls you, which looks at Burkina Faso under the leadership of Thomas Sankara who broke the ‘curse’ of food aid dependency and other forms of aid between 1983 and1987.

The chapter argues that food security is a priority for many African countries and draws from the thinking of leaders such as Sankara who understood that to be fully independent, he had to wean his country off food dependency or any form of aid, he had to control the food supply and value chain.

“Sankara secured the agricultural value chain. He strongly believed that: you must produce what you consume and consume what you produce”, which shaped the country’s policies and interventions, during his time in government.”

Other researchers who commented on the book included Dr Tendai Murisa, Director of SIVIO in Zimbabwe, who described the book as a continuation of the framework and foundation that was laid by Prof Moyo.

UMPA guest giving his opinion about the book. 

“This book comes at a critical time when we have land concentration. It requires us to re-examine and re-evaluate the new policies and land reform processes in Africa.

“There is so much that we can still unravel in terms of the work Prof Moyo did. For me it’s how Sam linked land reform and democracy. He argued that in the absence of us dealing with those with economic muscle, we cannot be totally decolonised.”  

Dr Freedom Mazwi from the Sam Moyo African Institute of Agrarian Studies, applauded Prof Gumede and Dr Shonhe for working with young and emerging scholars in putting together the book.

“This book is a contribution towards and continuation of the work Sam Moyo did,” he said.

The book was reviewed by Zimbabwean academic, author and publisher Prof Ibbo Mandaza.

@ Story Lisa Thabethe. Pictures Supplied.