Africa talks to the imagination, to the spirit, to all the senses. The mystique of this continent is almost tangible. Unforgettable. The rumble of thunder over savannahs. The smell of rain on parched plains. The uncontested purity and fertility of virgin soil. The humbling introspection invoked by a bare-faced wilderness, the graded silhouette of towering mountainscapes.
Muswodi Dipeni Village, Limpopo
“When I first heard we could sell Baobab fruit, I went to my field and I gathered much fruit – still I wondered what all of this was about.
Then I was paid for my fruit and I got R500! It was such a gift, I was so happy, I couldn’t believe what I was holding in my hands. And I ran home, showing the money to everybody from door to door – look what a wonderful thing I had received today – and told everybody they must go out and collect Baobab fruit, because they have a great value.
My Baobab money has bought me a stand and built my house and bought me a cooking pot. I also bought corrugated iron and built my child a house close to where I live.
And there is money over to save for the end of the year. During the times that it is Baobab harvesting season we are never short of anything. And at the end of this year the Baobab fruit is buying me a carpet for my house. The Baobab fruit has changed my life.”
“I have lived in this village since I was ten. I got married here, I had my children here, and I will grow old here.
I have been collecting Baobab fruit for some time now. First I used the money for food, for buying clothes, blankets, for many different things.
Later I went and bought wire and fencing poles and I fenced my fields with that. Buying the fencing for my field helped me a lot. When it is raining I plant millet and sorghum, and also in another season I plant watermelon and squashes. It’s really good, the fencing, otherwise the cows and goats eat my crops.
With the money I got this year I bought more fencing, and I am just waiting for the next Baobab season so that I can employ someone to fence an even bigger fi eld for me. The one that I use is a bit too small for me as my farming business is growing. I am now like the Baobab – bringing a new harvest every year”
Muswodi Dipeni Village, Limpopo
“I have seven children. When I started to sell Baobab fruit, I didn’t even have plates and knives and forks in my home. That’s what I used the first money for. After that I could buy school uniforms for my children.
After a while my children got older. And I could pay the fees for my first born to study catering. Another child needed to get a drivers licence and the money from my Baobab sales paid for the driving school.
The oldest one is now working in a catering job. And my child with the drivers license is working in a shop and wants to continue his studies. So when the Baobab fruit comes again, I will be saving to pay for his further education to become a paramedic.
Every time the Baobab time comes, we can buy those things we could never have before. All problems are so much smaller when you have the joy of working.”
Ka-ben Village, Swaziland
“I am a widow and most of my children died, so I live with my grandchildren. To keep this homestead alive and the kids at home, I harvest and sell Marula kernels.
I was the first one to start selling kernels in this community and make a reasonable income in a short time. Because of this, I got more people to join in, to learn eco harvesting, and to become members and crack more kernels.
Before I started selling my Marula kernels I was the poorest of the poor. Now I make a good income and I can even save from selling Marula kernels. Everything changed. From being so poor, I was able to build a house and a shelter where I crack and store my Marula nuts and kernels.
Because of all the things I am doing, I now think myself a business woman. I am proud to be able of make my family’s life better.”
“My husband died some years ago. I have 10 children. For survival I brew traditional beer called Mkomboti and if it’s Marula season I brew some Marula beer and sell it.
I saw some women around the community carrying lots of cash and they said they were selling Marula kernels. And I thought because I am poor and I don’t have a husband to help me, I can make another income from selling Marula kernels, because I am good in cracking the kernels.
All of us in my village have learned how to do the organic harvesting and processing. We crack for a month then we have to sell fresh in the next month. I was able to buy many things from Marula, I was able to buy a goat, and that goat now has some little babies. I can say my life and my children’s lives are sweeter because of the fruit of the Marula.”
The Himba Women
Kavevarekua Tjivinda & Kambepa Tlivinda
From the Kunene Region of Namibia
“We became resin harvesters by becoming members of the conservancy. We all signed up and then we were trained in methods of harvesting responsibly. Before harvest season, we meet to discuss any new rules or issues.
Many of us trek together in small groups to the tops of hills and high areas, to harvest the Omumbiri resin, which is a beautiful perfume that we’ve always used in our tradition. We pick it as it oozes from the bark of the Omumbiri tree. We each collect about 1 kg a day – or sometimes more, if it is very dry and hot.
We camp together for a few days and then bring home what we’ve harvested. The harvest season always comes at a time of the year when we need money the most.
Most months of the year, we drink milk and eat meat – when the grass is green. But during the dry months, from September, before the rains start, there is little milk and we then need money to buy maize meal. So harvest season comes as a blessing. There are about 500 – 600 of us who are doing this work, and the money helps pay for school fees and buy food and medical help, if we need it.
Terres d’Afrique is committed to ethical fair trade sourcing and our wild harvesting uses methods that will not lead to a decline of ecosystems.”
Madagascan-born Dr Stephan Helary is architect-in-chief of the Terres d’Afrique brand. He is a traveller, an intuitive, a scientist, a man of nature, and a full-hearted explorer of African culture, traditions and stories.
Stephan’s progressive approach to business and commitment to constructing a more meaningful future for health and wellness products and experiences have provided a strong ethical foundation for the TDA brand.
He surrounds himself with a network of like-minded others, and is unwavering in his goal to fulfil the unmet needs of travellers and customers seeking products and experiential opportunity for self-actualisation and meaningful connection.
He believes that personal engagement, ethical conduct and enhanced consciousness are key to winning luxury brands of the future.
Stephan’s life’s work has focused on building his knowledge of African culture and indigenous plants, their biochemistry and commercial potential, and the founding vision for his business was to create commercial opportunity for African raw material suppliers.
Stephan graduated as a Veterinary Doctor at the University of Liege in Belgium, where he also obtained a Masters Degree in Environmental and Wildlife Management.
Applying his mind to diverse development and conservation projects in Africa, he obtained his PhD in Nutritional Ecology, studying the diet of the Black Rhinoceroses. Later, his interest in plants, ethnobotany and exploring the African continent won out, and he began shaping his Terres d’Afrique brand offering.