Just when Sinenhlanhla Ngubane thought she was well on her way as a beginner chicken farmer, the unthinkable happened. More than 170 of her chickens were brutally killed. It was a moment so traumatic that she considering giving up on her dream to farm.
Up until today the 23-year-old KwaZulu-Natal farmer wonders who and why her chickens were killed. Despite the incident that happened in October 2021, Ngubane still has not figured out why anyone would hack her chickens to death with presumably a panga.
“We woke up in the morning and I saw my [were] chickens dead,” she tells Food For Mzansi. “I was stressed and confused, and I didn’t know what to do and I felt like giving up. I had 190 chickens and they killed 174 and stole six. They only left 10.”
Great public support
After the incident, Ngubane took to social media to post pictures of the dead chickens. Much to her surprise, the post went viral and she unexpectedly received support from many corners of Mzansi.
“Many people shared my pain and businesspeople such as Siyanda Ntenga also came in and offered to assist. The Twitter community shared my story and people came in their numbers to assist, and their assistance and donations helped me to get back on my feet and re-established my business.”
This experience restored her faith in humanity. It made her stronger and inspired her to push even harder to succeed in the agriculture sector.
Ngubane says she was raised by her grandparents, who loved farming. They too raised chickens at home.
“My mother and grandparents were there, so I don’t remember myself struggling since I was born. They were always there to support me. I’m not saying they were rich, but they worked hard to get me where I am today. I didn’t grow up getting everything I wanted, but I had everything I needed as their love was sufficient for me.”
Besides farming, Ngubane is a fourth-year social work student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She officially started farming in 2017 after taking over from her grandparents who were subsistence producers.
Although she says she learned much from them, it was her mentor, Siyanda Nxumalo, who had the biggest influence on her life and farming career.
A bright future ahead
Today, Ngubane supplies local shisanyamas, restaurants and individuals in and around the community of eManguzi with her chickens branded as “Sne Chickens”. This is a huge achievement and one that would not be possible if she was taking shortcuts or looking for quick money, she says.
Farming is a process that takes time, she adds. There are many challenges too, especially limited space. If she had land, she could grow more chickens which inevitably would lead to growing her business. She could also start farming with goats, cattle and vegetables.
“It was not easy but because I knew where I wanted to be in life, I did manage to grow my business even though I’m not where I want to be. So far, I have achieved some of my goals. I’m proud of myself since I have achieved many things at my age, and this proves that I am young and capable.”
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