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A transdisciplinary team from Nelson Mandela University recently presented the University’s contribution to the renewed collaborative and capacity building Amajingqi project in the fields of socio-geographic mapping, rural SME development, education, and eco-tourism.

The delegation attended the first on-site meeting for the renewed project, which was started in 2012 at the Amajingqi Macadamia Farming factory, located in the rural villages of the Amajingqi Traditional Council within the Mbhashe Local Municipality.

Chief Ngwenyathi Dumalisile facilitated the meeting between the University delegates, government department representatives and his team.

The University brings various capacities, most importantly research, capacity-building, technical advisory support, developing joint funding proposals, and a co-constructed blueprint on how to approach rural engagement and development of its communities.

The MoU, currently being finalised, captures the University’s strategic intent to reimagine rural engagement within the Eastern Cape and beyond.

The University delegation was led by Prof Darelle van Greunen (Director of the Centre for Community Technologies) and Dr Bruce Damons (Project Manager of the Hubs of Convergence in the Engagement and Transformation Portfolio). The other delegates were Drs Thandokazi Mbane (Tourism), Florah Modiba (Development Studies) and Noluntu Dyubhele (Economics), as well as Khanyisa Manzini (Missionvale Campus and Hubs of Convergence), Faik Houlie (Engagement Office) and Dr Jenny du Preez (Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education Transformation) from the Engagement and Transformation Portfolio.

Representatives from government departments and entities who also shared their potential contributions, included the Department of Small Business Development; the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency; the Agricultural Research Council; ESKOM; the Eastern Cape Development Corporation; the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform; Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries; the Department of Transport; Mbhashe Local Economic Development Section; the Dept of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Mbhashe Local Municipality; DG Murray Trust and the Department of Traditional Affairs.

King Hintsa TVET College, which has campuses in the area, was also represented.

At the meeting with Chief Dumalisile, the various stakeholders introduced the building and renewal of connections between them. A project steering committee will now be formed with stakeholder representatives including Dr Damons, Prof Van Greunen and Mr Houlie from the University.  

Exposure to the complexity of rural poverty, navigating the gravel roads, engaging with the various stakeholder communities and the passion of the leadership of the Amajingqi Traditional Council, further encourages the University to understand how we can co-create 'the dream of a small village to become a smart village’ (Amajingqi Traditional Council member) in service of the Amajingqi community, says Dr Damons.

Initial focus areas which were identified are:

  • Programme Support: Supporting the development of a programme management model for the particular context.
  • Converged Engagement: Understanding with and from the local community how they would like to influence and get involved in the various engagements.
  • Education: Supporting Early Childhood Development and Whole School Development.
  • Eco-Tourism: Creating tourism awareness amongst local communities to harness the wealth of history and natural scenery in the area for inclusive, sustainable and pro-poor community development.
  • Socio-Economic Geographic Mapping: Conducting a participatory socio-economic geographic audit of the area to capture challenges and available resources to ensure that the planned projects respond to the needs of the community and tap into its physical, natural, human, social, and financial resources.
  • Rural SME Development: Supporting SMEs in the area with business advisory services to combat challenges such as lack of access to credit, poor profitability, lack of access to markets, lack of mentorship, skills shortages and poor infrastructure.

The MoU presents unique opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration to respond to the community's grand challenges while allowing for the generation of cutting-edge local knowledge in response to the distinctive rural challenges.

Chief Dumalisile highlighted the inequalities facing South Africa and the need for passionate and meaningful engagement in responding to these inequalities through particularising action.

Please contact Faik Houlie ( if you are interested in forming part of the team engaging with the project.

From left, Dr Noluntu Dyubhele, Chief Dumalisile and Dr Florah Modiba

From left, Dr Noluntu Dyubhele, Dr Jenny du Preez, Dr Florah Modiba, Mr Faik Houlie,
Prof Darelle van Greunen, Ms Khanyisa Manzini, Dr Thandokazi Mbane and Dr Bruce Damons.