The launch of Prickly Pear: The Social History of a Plant in the Eastern Cape by Prof William Beinart and Dr Luvuyo Wotshela (Wits University Press 2012) was co-hosted by the Cory Library Inkcubeko Nendalo, and Rhodes University Botany Department on the 26th of March.
A fascinating seminar presented by the authors at the Botany department was well attended by academics, students and members of the public. It was pointed out that a number of introduced plant species are considered, on the one hand, to be problem plants and legislated against as weeds, while on the other hand they often have great value to some, particularly poor rural people. This was shown to be the case with prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica). As a Catagory 1 Weed (Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 1983) it is illegal to sell prickly pear fruits and its products. Despite this the sale of fruits and "beer" made form the fermented fruits is an important source of income for mant poor rural communities in the Eastern Cape.
A prickly pear vendor on the N2 in the Fish River Valley east of Grahamstown
The seminar was followed by a launch of the book at the Cory library, hosted by Prof Jeff Peires. The authors both gave a brief account of their roles in researching and writing the book. (see Rhodes news coverage of the event here)
Showing the rich biocultural diversity of the use of Prickly Pears Inkcubeko Nendalo provided a display of books, pamphlets, recipes and photos relating to various Prickly Pear products that Tony Dold and Michelle Cocks had prepared days before. These included prickly pear mead (iqhilika yetolofiya), prickly pear chutney, prickly pear peel konfyt, prickly pear fruit konfyt (2 different recipes), and fresh prickly pears on ice.
Young prickly pear fruits and a flower