Thursday, 25 April 2013

Food to celebrate Independence Day

On 25 April 1968 the British flag was brought down.  An independent Swaziland then hoisted its own flag proudly. 
How about celebrating this day with us by trying out one if these recipes. Comments are most welcome.
This side dish is served regularly in my house. It has a few basic ingredients and you can add and change the other ingredients to suit your likes. I like to have colourful food and when I have looked at my other dishes and I see there is too much green on the table then this dish get generous helpings of yellow and red peppers, or I tone the table down by adding more green veggies to this dish. Take some inspiration from the Swazi flag, use a bright blue serving dish and add lots of yellow and red veggies to the following recipe.
In Swaziland samp is eaten often / a few times a week. Samp is also known as hominy.  
Gather the following together:
1.5 litre water
400g samp (hominy)
200g sugar beans
1 onion
Above are the basics. You can add the following or do your own thing
1 tomato
2 carrots, chopped
 green beans
 shredded cabbage, shredded
1 butternut squash, chopped 
In separate bowls soak the samp and sugar beans overnight. Rinse the samp, drain and boil for 30 minutes then add the washed beans, season with salt and boil until soft but still firm, it takes a long time . Add the vegetables, reduce to a simmer and cook  until the vegetables are done. Add pepper to taste and serve. 

Does that sound a bit boring? Well let’s go wild:
A main course dish:  Pork with cabbage and bananas
You will need
500g pork, cubed
1/3 white cabbage,  shredded
4 bananas
2 onions, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp green chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
4 tbsp vegetable oil 
And now you have to 
Fry the onions, garlic and chillies in a little bit of the oil until the onions are soft. Add cabbage and 120ml of water (or white wine to give it a more European flavour) and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Fry the pork in the remaining oil until brown, remove pork from the pan and set aside. Peel and cut banana into slices, season with salt. Using the pan in which the pork was fried,  arrange the banana slices in the pan. Sprinkle the soy sauce over them and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the bananas are just softened. Remove from the pan and set aside. 
Return the pork pieces to the pan and stir in the cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the pork is cooked through. Add the bananas and allow to heat through (do not over cook, or the bananas will break down). 
Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve immediately. 

Feel like some bread with a difference: 
Cornbread is a Swazi staple food and it's served with almost every meal, especially with stews and curries.  It is very simple to make. 
2 eggs, beaten 
300 g wheat flour 
3 tsp baking powder 
generous pinch of salt 
300g cornmeal (mealie meal) 
Add enough milk to make a fairly watery dough. Leave to stand for five minutes, pour into a tin and bake in an oven pre-heated to 190°C for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and golden. 


Monday, 22 April 2013

King Mswati III of Swaziland celebrated his birthday this week.

Two visitors show off their Mswati III emahiya.

Born born Makhosetive Dlamini on 19 April 1968, he ascended the throne in 1986 at age 18, after his father, King Sobhuza’s death. King Mswati III is Africa's last absolute monarch. (Swaziland is one of 3 countries in Africa ruled by a monarch, the others are Lesotho and Morocco.) He has the power to choose the prime minister, other top government posts and top traditional posts. Even though he makes the appointments, he has to get special advice from the queen mother and council.

In 2004, Mswati promulgated a new constitution that allows freedom of speech and assembly for the media and public, while retaining the traditional Tinkhundla system. Although Amnesty International criticized the new constitution as inadequate in some respects, Swaziland's reporters have been quoted as saying that they are generally free to report as they please. 

And so the King regularly becomes controversial. For instance there was this an incident in 2005:  In an attempt to mitigate the HIV and AIDS pandemic in 2001, the king used his traditional powers to invoke a time-honoured chastity rite (umcwasho), which encouraged all Swazi maidens to abstain from sexual relations for five years. This rite banned sexual relations for Swazis under 18 years of age from September 2001, but just two months after imposing the ban, the King violated this decree when he married a 17-year-old girl, who became his 13th wife. As per custom, he was fined a cow by members of her regiment, which he duly paid.

Wikipedia says this about King Mswati III “Mswati has been criticized for his lifestyle, especially by the media. Following criticism of his purchase of luxury cars, including a $500,000 DaimlerChrysler's flagship Maybach 62 luxury automobile, he banned the photography of his vehicles. According to the Forbes 2009 list of the World's 15 Richest Royals (in which he was placed last), King Mswati is worth a reported US$200 Million”.

Every year around this time the media put the spotlight on the King and here are some of the media comments from last year. 

A BBC Africa news report said: “Mswati III of Swaziland is accustomed to marking his birthday with a no-expense-spared celebration, literally one fit for a king. But with his country's economy in free fall, this year there is no budget for a lavish do on Thursday 19 April as he turns 44. Home Affairs Minister Prince Gcokoma has called on ordinary Swazis to donate cows to be slaughtered for a mass feast where there will be traditional music and dancing.”

Spokesperson for an organisation called Swazi Diaspora, Ntombenhle Khathwane last year said, “Going ahead with the King’s birthday celebration only confirms that Swaziland has a government and leader that does not care for and is not accountable to its people. It also confirms the wasteful spending which characterizes the Swaziland government, as well as the fact that the first priority for government is the King. We Swazis in the Diaspora would view this as irresponsible of him as a leader; to be spending millions of Emalangeni on a day’s event while the country needs those millions to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people facing the harsh realities of poverty, disease and unemployment. 

What do the locals say about their King? Ordinary Swazis tend to refer to the king in hushed tones and always with respect - and do not like to be questioned about him. 

More soon,

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Letter from Mandla

I hope I find you well Ntomembemhlophe. My Self I am good. The cold is not a problem now I am used to it.

Today it is a week and 4 days since I arrived in Ireland. It is so good to be here. At first I did not know what will befall me. The people I have met so far are very good I must say and I think they are actually more friendly than the people back home.

I think it is important that I write about my journey to Ireland first. After acquiring the visa to the UK I was very happy. I thought my traveling would be easy as I had a tough time applying for the visa - many questions and a lot of documents and information about my self and the people I am visiting. I left home very excited on the morning of 25th March. I took the shuttle bus to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and I was at the airport at 12.45. I had ample of time to look around for the terminals I will be using for boarding and where to check in. 

At 16.45 I headed for check in. At the self service check in the machine did not pick me, I got help and all was well but as I was leaving I was called back my bag was put aside.  "Where are you going Mr Mdluli?" asked the security. I showed him the air ticket but he wanted me to talk. I explained everything to him but now he wanted proof. Fortunately I had the invitation letters with me. He read them but wanted more. He wanted bank statements for the people I am visiting which I did not have. After consulting he let me through to the boarding gates where I had a bit of questioning again. I showed them the letters for them to let me board the plane. I boarded the huge double decker plane,  secured my seat, relaxed and happy that I am finally flying

I landed in Paris just before 06.00 on 26th March. It was easy to find my boarding gate where I will be connecting a plane to Dublin. We started boarding at 09.15. My passport was checked, no problem but just before boarding in the tunnels another check point and the security made me wait as she was still consulting. After 10 minutes of consultation through her cellphone I was let in. Now it clicked in my mind that I might have another big questioning in Dublin. Lord have mercy, I prayed. In slightly less than 2 hours we were landing in Dublin Airport. It was very cold and snowy – my first time to see snow! I headed for the passport control.
I was made to wait for an hour and a half at this point. I had a lot of questioning, my cell phone was taken and the officer went through all the messages and emails. He was friendly though he really gave me a tough time. I am not sure if it is always like this to travel to Europe or it is because it was my first time. For me it was not easy at all.
First person I met was Jan, he looked worried. I could see the sigh of relief the moment he saw me coming in. I was relieved as well and felt at home. He took me for a drive along the sea view and went to meet Linda at Egan House which is just besides St Michan’s Church. Upon seeing Linda I knew nothing would happen, I still could not believe it . Me in Ireland. Praise be to God. I also met Linda Heather who is a new employee at United Society. Surprisingly I am popular here, I saw a lot of books with my pictures. It was good to walk across the road in the streets of Dublin, Ireland, Europe on the snowy day for a bowl of soup. We also went to the shops to buy some clothes. Since it is very cold here it was proper that I get thermal vests and underwears - they help to keep the body warm.
I spent two nights in Dublin, I was staying at the Theological Institute belonging to The Church of Ireland. I had a good stay there, meeting all the loving and friendly people, it was really good. On day two Linda Heather took me for a tour around Dublin’s two Anglican Cathedrals. The first was St Patrick’s Cathedral which is the national cathedral of the church of Ireland (Anglican). There is a lot of history about this church. This church is over 800 years old. We also went to Christ Church which is the Cathedral of Dublin & Glendalough Dioceses, another tourist attraction site.The two churches are a just a kilometer apart. At 15.30 I got an opportunity to meet Revd Ted and his wife, Revd Anne, from the Rathfarnham parish. This Parish will be going to Swaziland in July to work at St Paul’s Primary School where a new kitchen for the school feeding will be built. Revd Ted was really good to meet and he is really looking foward to the project and preparations are almost complete. After this meeting we went to the College for an evening prayer as this was during Holy Week. We had a great experience called a Seder Meal. It was all in remembrance of the Israelites in Egypt. We ate bitter herbs to remember their bitter life under the hand of Pharoah, It was good and it reminded me of Father Andrew. 
On day 3 we headed for the country side, and the home of Linda and Jan. (They also have a small house which they rent in Dublin. It is famously known as number 16.) It took us about two hours to get to Mohill. Mohill is a small town in the country of Leitrim. Linda and Jan have a house here in this beautiful country side.  Welcome to Inis d’ór as the home is called. It was good to be at Inis d’ór with Linda and Jan. They are a lovely couple, there is a lot that I have learnt from them just in the way they relate to each other as a couple. It is just amazing. It was good to do some house chores at Inis d’ór, preparing fire wood and I loved the cooking it just made me feel like I now have a home. It was really  good to do something I have not done for a very long time now.
On Saturday 30th March at 10.00 I left Inis d’ór for Londonderry. Now this is where I will be spending the rest of my time in Ireland. I got my passport ready for crossing the border to Northern Ireland. To my surprise the passport was not needed at all. The border line is marked on the road and you notice by the road signs that you have entered another territory. In the south they use km/h for speed and in the north they use miles/h. I have been told that during my first week I will be staying with a Gordon family and the man works for the British Army. Soldiers are not friendly in Swaziland but this man has been described as a good man. I just told myself, come what may, I am ready. After two and a half hours we arrived at Londonderry which is sometimes called the stroke city, this is because there is a group of people who want it called Derry not Londonderry and so it is written Derry/Londonderry (Derry stroke Londonderry.)  We met Mr Mervyn Gordon at a place called Waterside Railway Station. We went straight away to the rectory of All Saints Clooney Parish where we met Revd Malcolm Ferry and his family and Revd Mervyn Peoples also from All Saints. We had tea together and at 14.00 Linda and Jan left and this marks a new life for me altogether. I will be living with people I have never seen nor met, anyway ready for the challenge.
About Londonderry or Derry. 
The Stroke City, The Maiden City, Derry, Londonderry, The Walled City, All these are the names of the city I live in. It is situated in Northern Ireland which is part of The United Kingdom. With nice old British buildings, the Foyle river running  across and a couple of very old church buildings tells you that this must be a very old town. It was actually founded around 54AD. Ireland is divided into two, being The Republic of Ireland (which is also known as Southern Ireland) and Nothern Ireland which is part of The United Kingdom. Most of the people in Ireland are Roman Catholics and many of them want Northern Ireland to be part of the South. In areas where most of the Catholics live you will notice by the Flag of Southern Ireland (tri colour) and where its anti/non Catholic you will see a UK flag flying. The Catholics will call this place Derry while the other people consisting of the Church of Ireland (Anglican), Presbyterians and The Methodist call it Londonderry. There is actually one place just behind the City where by I was told it is not safe at all to go there if you are not Roman Catholic. This city has big walls all around it that were built many hundred years ago to protect it. However it has expanded around the walls but the walls have been kept as tourist attraction. A new beautiful bridge has been just completed across the Foyle river. This bridge sort of connects the non Catholic community and the Catholic community. It is called The Peace Bridge.

The People I have met so far.
Mr Mervyn and Rhona Gordon.  The first thing that surprised me about Mr Gordon is that he works for the Government. He and Rhona have dined with the Queen and Mr Gordon has been awarded the MBE for dedication to his work. Mr Gordon and his wife Rhona have been married for 30 years now and they have two sons aged 29 and 27 who work and live in England. Rhona is a nurse working in a hospital very close to where they live. Their home is situated in the Kilfennan area of the Waterside just 5 minutes drive from the city centre. The first thing that gave me hope when I got into their house was seeing a picture of three black/ African girls just above the fire place.  The girls were members of the African Children’s Chior and they stayed with Rhona and Mervyn for 3 nights during their stay in Londonderry. Rhona and and Mervyn are very good. I am enjoying my time with them. I am treated just like a King here. Oh! I almost forget the other two “kids” they have Lucy (dog) and Mogs (cat) both eight years old. They are spoiled, very spoiled especially Lucy. It is rare to find people with pets in Swaziland so this is an experience for me. “Dogs are used as a guard in my country” I said to Mervyn and He was very surprised. Lucy and Mogs (big fat cat) sit with us on the couch and sometimes you would find them lying on your bed, if you leave the door open. They are house trained and they always eat fresh food on clean bowls.  Mervyn and Rhona have taken me to many places around NI. We have been to the North Antrim Coast at Portrush and to Buncrana in Donegal (South) and into the City of Derry. Mervyn likes walking so we would park the car and walk for miles and miles, which I like it as well, as it is good for my health. Whenever time comes for me to leave this family it won’t be easy for me. I will miss their sense of humour and hospitality. This was another powerful learning curve for me as a young man. The house chores in this house are shared, Mervyn cooks as well, just like Jan and he is a good cook too. Rhona is 51 years old but seriously I think she is 40 really. 
I need help here I do not know when is lunch, dinner, supper and tea. I am totally confused. The only thing I still keep track of is breakfast. Lunch here is sometimes called dinner and after that there might come another meal, tea and after tea late in the night supper.
Revd Malcolm Ferry.
Revd Malcolm Ferry is 44. He is married to Carol for twenty years now with three children, one boy (James 17) and two girls (Sarah 16, Rebekah 14). He is the Rector at All Saints Clooney Parish. On my first day in Derry  Rev Malcolm took me for a walk around town. The purpose of the walk was to know each other better. It was really unlike a priest I thought. He told me about himself and family and I shared my life to him as well. It was a good start for me though very cold especially when crossing the Peace Bridge when it was windy and cold. Revd Malcolm was off duty during the fisrt week of my time in Derry. We spent a lot of time together. I have never been so close to a priest or spent so much time. He likes swimming so we would go for a swim together, and work together. He is a Priest out of this world, A good man, a good friend, a good father, a prayer partner - the list is just endless.  Mervyn would jokingly say Malcolm is lazy because he does not wash the dishes but put them in the dish washer. I am enjoying my time with Revd Malcolm and the great things I am learning from this man of God. After meeting these two families (Gordon and Ferry) I knew I will have a good time here.
The people from All Saints Parish. 
I have received a very warm welcome from the good parishioners here. This is my St Matthias now, I am home so no fears. I would walk on the streets and meet people from church and they would talk to me. I am not a stranger at Londonderry but a permanent resident. They are just caring, loving and supporting. I thank God for this experience, my life has been changed. It was really good meeting with the men’s and ladies groups to talk about United Society and the Anglican Church in Swaziland. They took their time to leave their homes, sit down and listen to me. Life is much better here, if I was at home it would not be like this. I also cooked some pap for the men to eat. I let them eat with their hands. They rolled it with one hand made hole and scooped the soup, it was really good.
I have learned some Northern Ireland words and phrases:
Rabbiting. Meaning you just never shut up. (She keeps rabbiting on.)
Foundering. Meaning very cold. (I’m foundering.)
Big E. Meaning pushed out. (Give him the big E.)
Grumpy. Meaning annoyed/ bad tempered. (Mandla is very grumpy today.)


This is much better. If I was at home it would not be like this.

To be continued!!!!!

Us Annual Conference 2013: Brave Steps

Us Annual Conference 2013:
Brave Steps

Monday 24 – Wednesday 26 June 2013

Venue: High Leigh Conference Centre, Hoddesdon, Herts
You are invited to attend our annual conference, which will be the first since we changed our name from USPG to Us, in November last year.

Starts 4pm on Monday 24 June; ends lunchtime on Wednesday 26. Or come for our special Day Conference on Tuesday 25 June.
This year’s conference is a chance to meet people whose lives have been changed through an encounter with Us, with workshops, activities and ideas to take back to your parish.

The conference is ‘Brave Steps’. In 2 Cor 5, Paul says ‘for we walk by faith, not by sight’. At conference we will be looking at the challenges and the blessings that come from walking by faith. We will hear first-hand how our partners are stepping forward into the fullness of life that Jesus promises us.


  • Cost for three-day conference (24–26 June, teatime Monday 24 to lunchtime Wednesday 26) is £140 (not sharing), £70 (sharing)
  • Cost for Tuesday Day Conference is £25 (includes lunch)
  • FREE for those in training for ordained ministry

Guest speakers

  • Floyd P Llawet, Provincial Secretary of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP): Floyd was formerly the head of ECP's development office and will share experiences from his church's staunch commitment to human rights and social justice.
  • The Revd Fedis Nyagah, Church and Community Mobilisation Process Facilitator, working throughout Africa and with Us in Zimbabwe: Fedis is spearheading a faith-based approach to community empowerment that radically challenges the idea that poor people need to be dependent on aid to end poverty.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

More farm news from Heloise de Beer

Removing the maize stalks from the reservoir site

This week we were not able to do much on the farm due to the 65mm of rain we had over two days. However we did plant 4 000 cabbage seedlings and harvested cabbage and tomatoes. The most exciting activity was the clearing of the area where the dam will be built. That meant cutting and taking away a lot of maize. 
The final plans for the dam were circulated to all directors.
Average max temp this week on the farm: 24°C
Average min temp this week on the farm: 14°C
Rainfall Averages 2013 to Date
January 169mm     270mm
February 140mm               180mm
March 100mm          167mm
April 70mm                  65mm
As you can see by the end of March we had about 50% more rain than the average for March in the Luyengo area. 
Due to the wilting problem we have in the field on the tomatoes we are experimenting with the open hydroponic system. That means we are growing tomatoes in pots in the fields. We are renovating a part of the nursery to do this experiment and will be planting the first 1 000 plants with this system soon. Watch this space to see how we progress ( or not). 
Some words of wisdom from the African continent:       To get lost is to learn the way.


Below: breaking down the old piggery on the reservoir site.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

So where is Swaziland anyway?

The flower of the Frangipangi tree.

It’s the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, 17,000 square kilometres (or 10,563 square miles); about the size of Wales.  It is landlocked and shares borders with South Africa and Mozambique. You want more specific? Latitude 31 degrees, 30 minutes east of Greenwich and longitude 26 degrees, 30 minutes south of the equator.
Geography lesson: The country is divided into four topography and climatic regions. 1. There is the mountainous Highveld to the west with rivers, gorges, waterfalls and mountains up to 1,800m above sea level.  Here you find the warm wet summers and dry winters when the night temperatures can drop to snowfall degrees.  Not suitable for agriculture and mostly forestry generates the income here. The biggest town in the area is Mbabane and another landmark one is Piggs Peak.  2. The Middleveld has lush fertile valleys and a warm climate and here agriculture generates the income. This is where the farm that I will be writing about is situated, near a village called Malkerns, but the biggest town in the area is Manzini and the industrial area Matsapha where you land if you are flying in on an international flight.  3. To the east of Swaziland is the lowveld which covers the largest part of the country. This is sub-tropical area, also the malaria area, drought-prone with the typical African bush vegetation. Here you find the big game parks and the indigenous fauna and flora. Agriculture is limited to sugar cane and there are some big mills in the area. 4. The smallest region is the subtropical Lubombo area which borders on Mozambique. The Lubombo mountain range is the main feature her. There is mixed farming in the area.
The Swazi people:  There are a million Swazis living in the kingdom with about a quarter living in the urban areas. The country is ruled by a monarch, King Mswati III (aka Ngwenyama or Lion) and his mother the Queen Mother (aka Ndlovukazi or She-Elephant). Swaziland was once ruled by the British but became independent in 1967 when the previous king, King Sobhuza II received international recognition as a king. 
Latest statistics tell us that 41% of the population are affected by HIV/AIDS. The birth-rate is down and the death rate has doubled between the years 1997 and 2007. At the same time there has been a shift in the social structure with an increasing number of child-headed households emerging as parents succumb to the AIDS pandemic. 
The language they speak here is called siSwati and for the people in the urban areas English is a second language. In the rural areas English is a foreign language, spoken and understood by few.  
The national currency is called Lilangeni and the plural is Emalangeni. It is on a par with the South African Rand (ZAR) and both currencies can be used as payment in the kingdom. 


Rhino in the Hlane Game Reserve

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Luyengo Farm reaches 7 hectares

This week at Luyengo Fresh Produce 

Another week of patting ourselves on the back: We passed the 7 Ha mark planted on the farm.  
The corps planted are 1,7 Ha Cabbages, 1,5 Ha Tomatoes, 1,8 Ha Sugar Beans for seed production, 0,5 Ha green maize, 0,6 Ha Sweet corn, 1.0 Ha Carrots and 0,6 Ha Butternuts.
Crops in production at the moment are Cabbages, Tomatoes and green maize.
Average max temp this week on the farm: 26°C
Average min temp this week on the farm: 15°C
Rainfall Averages 2013 To Date
January 169mm 270mm
February 140mm 180mm
March 100mm 167mm
One goal we set for ourselves for 2013 was to build a dam on the farm. The water we need for irrigation comes from the canal that runs through the area and is free for anyone to use. Each year this canal is closed down for routine maintenance for a period of 14 days. It does not sound like much but consider that if your plants are going to be without water for 14 consecutive days they have to be a at a stage where they can handle that, which means you have to stop planting  two months before.  Then once the canal is running again it takes your newly planted crops three months to come into production. That takes five months out of your production. 
Tiekie has identified the ideal spot to build a dam on the farm. The site is at the entrance to the farm, just past the office and the nursery.  It has a natural wall to the one side and we only need to build a wall on the opposite side.  We will be losing about 0.25 Ha where we currently have maize standing 3 m tall.  It has a natural wall to the one side and we only need to build a wall on the opposite side.  The size of the proposed dam is going to be 7 500m³ or 50m x 50m and average 3.5 m deep. 
Tiekie has experience of building dams so he is up to this challenge. Some of the workers at Luyengo also assisted Tiekie with one other dam in Swaziland. Tiekie says he will hire all the equipment needed for this big task. He wants the dam completed when the canal is shutdown this year and that date has been set for the first two weeks in July. So once Tiekie and the workers have their ducks in a row and they start this task they want to finish with no interruptions. Thanks to generous donations from Us and their supporters the money is there - so no hold-ups from the financial side of things. 
The first task that is going to happen in preparation for the dam building is the removal of some trees. In the photo you can see the trees that will soon be taken down by Peter Emit. He has promised to use the wood from these trees to make a bench – table and seat combination- for use on the farm. 

Words of wisdom from Africa: 
There is always a winner even in a monkey’s beauty contest.