E360 Video Contest

On South African Shores, Women Carry On a Harvest Once Denied

In apartheid South Africa, the Sokhulu practice of gathering mussels was outlawed. “Ulwandle Lushile: Meeting the Tides,” the second-place winner in the 2021 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest, shows how Sokhulu women persevered and are again harvesting mussels sustainably.

2021 Yale Environment 360 Video Contest

During the apartheid era, the Sokhulu people were forcibly removed from their coastal lands and forbidden — under threat of arrest and imprisonment — to harvest the rich marine resources on which they had long depended.

In her film, “Ulwandle Lushile: Meeting the Tides”the second-place winner in the 2021 Yale Environment 360 Video Contestmarine scientist Tembisa Jordaan shows how Sokhulu women are once again carrying on the tradition of sustainably harvesting mussels and passing it on to a younger generation. After the end of apartheid, an ocean ecologist worked with the women and helped them relearn the sustainable harvest methods that had traditionally been part of their culture.

Jordaan initially considered writing an academic paper on the Sokhulu, but she decided their story should not be consigned to a scholarly journal and opted to make a film. “I wanted to dispel this common thought that coastal, rural people know nothing about the environment and don’t care about sustainable use or conservation,” she says. “They know how to provide for themselves, if the law permits them to.”

The title of her work, “Ulwandle Lushile,” translates from Zulu as “the ocean water is burnt” or “the sea is dry.” It describes low tide, the best time to harvest mussels.

About the Filmmaker: Tembisa Jordaan is a marine scientist and the biodiversity stewardship and biodiversity economy acting manager at Ezemvelo KZN wildlife. She recently starred in a three-part marine conservation documentary entitled “Our Oceans.” Her short film, “Ulwandle Lushile,” is the result of the work she did in marine resource management with KZN coastal communities.

About the Contest: The Yale Environment 360 Video Contest honors the year’s best environmental films, with the aim of recognizing work that has not previously been widely seen. Entries for 2021 were received from six continents, with a prize of $2,000 going to the first-place winner.