Sinethemba Masinga, a young farmer from Ndwedwe village in KwaZulu-Natal, has crept into the hearts of thousands of South Africans after posting a video of herself strutting her stuff to a Luther Vandross classic Never Too Much.
Masinga tells Food For Mzansi that, due to rapid changes in weather patterns, especially in December 2021, her eggplants became susceptible to a fungal disease. The video was in celebration of her eggplants surviving the harsh weather and growing in size beyond her expectations. After all, size really matters with these fellas.
The video has been viewed by over 35 000 Instagram users, amazed by her entertaining dance moves. She believes the video challenges the perception that farmers are as dull as dishwater.
“Some said I make farming seem exciting, and it is exciting. I live for agriculture. Honestly, I don’t understand why people are amazed at why we make farming look exciting, when it is. Maybe people think farmers are boring. I don’t know.”
The dancing farmer was taught by her parents, Sithembiso and Busisiwe Masinga, to cultivate the land. Farming has always been her family’s source of income.
Her deeply rooted love for agriculture saw her taking over the family business at the age of 15, growing an array of veggies including yams, red ground nuts, pumpkins and more, on 1.5 hectares of land.
Food For Mzansi asked Masinga five quick questions to share her story with the rest of the country’s farming community.
That video! What made you film and share?
I was excited; mostly grateful. I’m a Christian and I’m always thanking God. It’s our hands (that cultivate the crops) but I was grateful that God was listening to my prayers the whole of December. There was rain, sun and heat, so my eggplants had this fungal disease, but luckily most of the eggplants survived and I was really happy and grateful.
I was definitely not expecting it to be that size. I’ve planted eggplants for years, but they’ve never come out looking that good and that big.
How have people been responding to your viral moment?
I asked my little sister (Philile Masinga) to do a video of me dancing. I honestly thought I would delete that video, but it got like over 30 000 views. It’s crazy.
It makes me happy that it made a lot of other people happy. Some people were laughing at my dance moves, saying that I suck at dancing. I’ve also been getting a lot of comments from people who are not farmers. They say I make farming seem exciting, and it is exciting. I live for agriculture.
Whenever I’m at the farm, I feel at peace and at home. It doesn’t feel like work to me, so I am always happy there. It’s my happy place.
You seem like such a vibe. Are you always dancing around on the farm?
That was my happy new year dance. On New Year’s Eve and even on New Year’s Day I was sleeping. I didn’t get to go out. In that moment I felt like [my sacrifice] was worth it; me staying at home and not having fun with the rest of my family because of work.
But I’m always listening to music. I think music really gets the work done on the farm. I have even influenced my parents at some point to listen to the music.
How did your 2022 kick off and what new possibilities and opportunities lie ahead?
I did not expect to start the new year like this. It’s filled with excitement and so much blessing.
2021 was a year of gathering enough knowledge for 2022. [Last year was about] learning, making mistakes and taking risks. I learned so much about agriculture through research and attending business seminars and programmes.
This year is all about doing things, and putting that knowledge and skills into action. There’s a lot of work to be done. I will be expanding and planting vegetables in larger quantities.
What’s your advice to people inspired by you?
Seek knowledge: lots and lots of it. In agriculture, you can never say you know enough. It’s constantly evolving and changing; you need to be up to date.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. It can be scary, I know, but we should not be afraid to take risks. Just start, even if it’s small. Start on that available space at the back of your house and expand from there. Starting small means that when you make mistakes, you won’t be hit that bad. It’s okay to make mistakes and learn from it.
Also get an experienced mentor that will help you. Having experienced people whom you can rely on and call when you have a problem is very important. We can’t rely on consultants from the agricultural offices to always be there, so having mentors and farmer friends is important.
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