Monday in Makhanda

I drove up to Bedford last Tuesday, 90km north of Makhanda. The road clings to the mountainside through the Helspoort Pass and then shoots straight across the plains to Carlisle Bridge and the Great Fish River. The patchwork tarmac then climbs out the valley and traces under big skies to Bedford nestled at the foot of the Winterberg.

The grasslands glisten and “propvol” little dams sparkle along the drainage lines. Cattle, sheep and carefree springbokkies smile benignly at passing travellers.

I met with friends in Bedford. We’re working on an interesting opportunity. More of that another time. For the moment, make a note to visit Bedford. It will fill your lungs with fresh air and lift your soul.

On the return trip to Makhanda I considered the life-giving power of rain. Even the power to lift the chins and spirits of “townies”. The power to restore an upper lip.

Good for people and particularly our social entrepreneurship business which can be tough in this money-money world. A desperately unequal world, captured by money.

I cut through the field of a thousand ancient termite mounds and considered the giant wind-turbines on the hills to the west of Bedford. A friend called as I was contemplating the role of money in a world where even the monied worry they have too little.

Her question. “How can I help with the work you guys are doing in Grahamstown?” I resisted the temptation to blurt out, “Send a big fat Cheque!”

Instead my answer was boxed as a package of time and energy invested in well-governed projects that change people’s lives. For us it’s education, skills training, and the tourism opportunity but each to their own heart. At a practical and thought-light level, give to others material things that you don’t need yourself. Could change their lives, will definitely improve yours.

It’s the last point I’ll close out on. The Khanya Trade Skills Project was the grateful beneficiary of woodworking tools and equipment from the late Bill Mills. Thank you to Mr Mills’ daughter, Penny, for thinking of us. The tools are being used in the training workshop. I’m sure Mr Mills – an admired local and giving Rotarian – would be well-pleased.

The chaps could now do with a load of timber to practice and perfect their carpentry skills. A little wood for their own projects. If you have a couple of planks (old tables, chairs etc too) gathering dust in the shed we would be most thankful to dash over and collect them from you.

Happy Monday to you all. May the rains soak deep, continue to uplift spirits, and provide their life-giving powers to the beautiful Eastern Cape.


Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.  

Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”

Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.