A younger generation realizes the environmental value of their own culture

Pierre Reyneke


Molati village is situated in Limpopo, the most northern province of South Africa and the majority of its residents are xiTsonga speaking. Within the village it is the practice of elderly women to pave-out their courtyard and outside kitchen floors by hand (‘ku phama’ in xiTsonga), applying a mixture of cow-dung and clay. When applying this mixture, they also form decorative patterns using their fingers, adding a unique aesthetic to these social spaces.


The Brickstar cookstove project was developed in the Molati village in 2011, and during this development phase a few of these cultural practices were included in the stove construction plan. Nova and a group of community members evaluated a number of fabricated stove models available on the market at the time. From this it was decided to develop their own stove design by incorporating locally sourced materials and methods. The Brickstar project is therefore different from other cookstove projects in the sense that we are able to install a fuel-efficient stove at no monetary cost to the end-user.


In my interaction with the younger generation of residents (aged 18-30 years) in Molati as manager of the Brickstar project, I have encountered that they foster a perception which looks down on these cultural practices, viewing them as backward. However, during a recent training session of a new implementation team, mostly consisting of this younger generation, I witnessed how they realised the value of these cultural practices in a session where they were taught how to apply the cow-dung mixture (mentioned above) to the Brickstar stove. This layer of plastering forms the last step in the stove construction in order to preserve it. During the session trainees mentioned that prior to the training they did not know how to make and apply this mixture and were it not for the project this cultural practice would have been lost.


Through the Brickstar project Nova has facilitated a process through which a younger generation of Molati village could realise the value and relevance of some of their age old cultural practices as an answer to current health, economic and ecological challenges.


Posted on 14 Feb 2018



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