Prince Lutho Zibi (Ah! Zanodumo)
Many South Africans find it difficult to decide whether they are permanent urban residents or amagoduka (temporary inhabitants of towns and cities). As a goduka, whenever I made a trip home for public holidays or special events, I would always feel welcome in my village.
For 12 years, I traded my time, ideas, skills and money in an urban environment because I hoped this would give me a better life. I also hoped that, in the city, I would be able to associate with people of diverse cultures, races, customs and traditions. I observed the city changing rapidly, influenced by politics, a climate of growth, and business driven by innovation and technology; the city was always buzzing with cutting-edge development. But the villages and rural areas remained the same. The home I came from and all the other villages I would pass as I made my drive home seemed to have been left behind. Economically, socially and materially, I did not see much change.
After 12 years under the bright Johannesburg city lights, I had seen and done it all. I was finally ready to accept that it was time go back to my home village of Khayakhulu in the North West. I decided I had to be brave enough to return to the land of my ancestors and make a strategic contribute to my village. I finally believed I could make the change our rural villages and traditional communities needed.
I believed history, a family legacy and community culture could make rural development effective and desirable in the remote rural village of Khayakhulu. I saw how, driven by the Amahlubi Chairman’s Foundation, one little village could be transformed into a socio-economic hub for the community. The Amahlubi Chairman’s Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established by Nkosi Shadrack Zibi (Ah! Dabulamanzi) as an initiative by the Amahlubi Traditional Council. The Foundation has over 1 000 members from the communities of Khayakhulu, Welverdiend, Welgeval, KwaNolanga (Rampampaspoort) and Goedehoop.
I saw the transformation begin six years ago and, after all this time, we continue to foster and promote a rural development model that sustains socio-economic development in my community. We are guided by one principle only – that for rural development to be effective, it must be relevant to the current situation and the context of the community.
As the Amahlubi Chairman’s Foundation, we have conceptualised and implemented our 3C (community, catalyst, and commerce) Model©. The model is centered on understanding the unique dynamics of each community, identifying appropriate catalysts for economic growth (such as agriculture, mining and tourism), and then pairing the community members with suitable commercial partners (for funding and marketing). Our model has seen the revival of the agricultural sector in Khayakhulu, providing the community with opportunities to create and sustain jobs, and support our social infrastructure programme across five villages. We have also been able to support our sister community in the Eastern Cape (Zibi Village) through these developmental opportunities.
There is no better time for rural development than now. Given the current social and economic climate of our country, as well as changing governance structures and policies, and the prospect of a revival of royal and traditional leadership, we are at the frontier of significant rural development. The land of our forebears and future generations is rich in indigenous knowledge, water, minerals, fertile soil and – best of all – has a low carbon footprint. However, villages and rural areas face some difficulties, for instance, geographic distance. Most villages are remote and isolated from the economic hubs of the country. Also, rural areas have limited records, and it is difficult to carry out our plans without real-time data and insights. Fourth industrial revolution (4IR) technologies can help in this regard, creating innovative ways to connect rural areas with mainstream markets and to solve contextual challenges in.
My challenge to community leaders is to embrace the 4IR to improve the quality of life in their communities and attract amagoduka back home. For instance, in Khayakhulu, we are creating a cryptocurrency development fund that, through connectivity and intelligence, will see returns for every rand invested shared with each member of the Foundation. The Foundation’s intention is to then improve the economic landscape of its villages and improve the lives of those in the community. The development of rural communities can solve many of South Africa’s economic challenges, and will make a sustainable dent on unemployment in the country. Amagoduka will drive this revolution, but only if they can identify with the ideals of their traditional council. I call on all traditional councils to use the 4IR to develop their communities.
* Prince Lutho Zibi (Ah! Zanodumo) is a social entrepreneur and traditional leader in the Amahlubi Traditional Council.
Using 4IR to transform and develop the rural economy (Science Forum 2019)
Using 4IRUsing 4IR to transform and develop the rural economy to transform and develop the rural economy