LAND STORIES Peter Smooi – man of the forest

Production by Christian Stroud & Nokwanda Dlamini

Peter Smooi is a mushroom seller and former marijuana dealer who makes his living off the land. The forests of Hogsback provides mushrooms to sell to the locals. Peter’s land story questions whether the lives of people like Peter would be better were it not for antiquated drug and land laws. Peter displays profound knowledge of the land yet his skills go wasted in a community like Hogsback. His story shows that owning land is not enough without the means to build a home.

This film is one of six videos made to illustrate a range of typical Land struggles that people living in the Thyme River catchment in South Africa have experienced during their lifetimes.
A common feature in each of the six participants’ stories is the role and impact of insecure tenure on their own lives, their families and their communities. Although each family now has a ‘secure’ home, many of the participants have moved several times – between farmland, communal land, land owned by employers and as well as absentee landowners.
Despite the right to housing being enshrined in the South African Constitution, 24 years after the advent of democracy, the families have yet to secure formal tenure. Each of the stories highlight aspects of the ongoing struggle to ‘live a good life’ – many gained access to electricity for the first time in late 2017. The films provide a digital record for the young people in each family of how their parents struggled to have a permanent place called home.

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