A Conversation with “An Unreasonable Woman” Amnesty International Human Rights Defender Nonhle Mbuthuma of South Africa
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw,
Nonhle Mbuthuma is facing danger for trying to stop a mining company from taking her land. So why is the government not protecting her?
Nonhle is a farmer whose ancestral land means everything to her: “If you take my land you take my identity”. But Nonhle and her community on the Eastern Cape of South Africa are at risk of losing everything because a mining company want to kick them off their land.
“This land was my grandmother’s, who inherited it from her grandparents. What am I going to leave for my children? Mining is not an option.” – Nonhle
Nonhle and other members of her community have led a campaign of resistance. They founded the Amadiba Crisis Committee in order to unite people across five villages and push back against the company. Since then, Nonhle has been endlessly intimidated and threatened.
She faces real danger. A fellow community leader was shot dead in 2016 and Nonhle is supposed to be next on the ‘hit list’. But she is determined to continue the fight to defend her land.
The South African government have an obligation to protect Nonhle from threats and violence, but they simply aren’t doing enough.