Face to Face with Success

Meet Mark Solms - the wine farmer devoted to social transformation

When Mark Solms returned to his family-owned wine farm in Franschhoek in 2002, he wanted to contribute “in some small, citizen-sized way.”

Solms – a psychoanalyst and professor of neuropsychology – together with the workforce on his farm, began to tackle one of the most contentious issues that faces South Africa – land reform.

Although Solms had left the country during the apartheid era, he returned after democracy, eager to contribute to the country that he loved.

“The thing that really excited me was the prospect of taking on a historic Cape farm and trying to align it with the vision we then had, of our new South Africa,” he says.

I was very mindful of the fact that I was taking on the sins of my fathers.

Mark Solms

Upon his return, Solms made some changes off the bat to try to effect the process of reform – renovating the workers’ accommodation, and implementing employment contracts.

But he still found himself at loggerheads with his workforce.

Solms said that while he may have known little about farming, he knew much about pathology, and that all diagnoses start with a patient’s history.

And so, together with archaeologists and historians, Solms began to put together the history of the farm – established in 1690 – which stretched as far back as 6000 years ago.

Three crimes against humanity were all perpetrated on my farm. My house was built by slaves.

Mark Solms

“It’s a great leveller, facing the historical facts,” he says.

With these facts in place, Solms and his workforce could begin the process of reform.

“All of those ill-gotten gains had to be reversed. If you really want to put it right – you have got to give the land back,” he says.

And so, together with his workforce and the generosity of his neighbour Richard Astor, a unique partnership was formed.

Listen to Charlotte Kilbane in conversation with Mark Solms in this week’s Face to Face With Success, brought to you by Nashua.

CapeTalk welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the CapeTalk community a safe and welcoming space for all.

CapeTalk reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

CapeTalk is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Meet Brian Chesky: The sharing-economy hero

Meet Brian Chesky: The sharing-economy hero

A simple idea borne in late 2007 out of three broke guys’ need to make rent started a global revolution in the travel industry, and introduced the world to a new economy.

Meet M-Net Channels Head Yolisa Phahle

Meet M-Net Channels Head Yolisa Phahle

Hear from the person instrumental in driving M-Net’s strategy to showcase local content since 2015.

Meet Shirley Zinn: The expert putting "human" back in HR

Meet Shirley Zinn: The expert putting "human" back in HR

With a high profile career in the corporate world and a PhD from Harvard, Shirley Zinn is living proof that grit, resilience and hard work do pay off.

Meet Romeo Kumalo, the adventurous venture capitalist

Meet Romeo Kumalo, the adventurous venture capitalist

Romeo Kumalo chats to Nikiwe Bikitsha about the importance of rekindling the spirit of entrepreneurship for future generations.

Meet Dorcas Dlamini, dynamo of the hospitality industry

Meet Dorcas Dlamini, dynamo of the hospitality industry

From a very junior position at Protea Hotels as a teenager, to her appointment as Sales Director in 2014, aged just 30, Dorcas Dlamini has blazed her way to the top.

Meet Nelia Annandale, South African retail queen

Meet Nelia Annandale, South African retail queen

It took a life-threatening accident to push Keedo founder Nelia Annandale to finally take the leap and start her own business.

Popular articles
Why try to remove such an outstanding Minister? - Nick Binedell (Gibs)

Why try to remove such an outstanding Minister? - Nick Binedell (Gibs)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Gordon Institute of Business Science’s Professor Nick Binedell.

'Zuma will ensure Cabinet reshuffle doesn't look like Nene/Van Rooyen Part 2'

'Zuma will ensure Cabinet reshuffle doesn't look like Nene/Van Rooyen Part 2'

Analyst Nic Borain says it's unclear whether Zuma's decision to ask Gordhan to return home is related to a Cabinet reshuffle.

Analysis: Possible reasons why Gordhan ordered to return by Zuma

Analysis: Possible reasons why Gordhan ordered to return by Zuma

EWN Reporter Stephen Grootes looks at possible reasons why the President called Pravin Gordhan back into the country.

3 best investments in the world right now (by Mia Kruger)

3 best investments in the world right now (by Mia Kruger)

Hot tip alert! Mia Kruger of Kruger International Asset & Wealth Management shares her stock picks of the week on The Money Show.

President Zuma asks Gordhan and Mcebisi to return from overseas trip

President Zuma asks Gordhan and Mcebisi to return from overseas trip

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan confirms he was planning on returning early from an investor roadshow.

Department of Education irons out plans to decolonise English curriculum

Department of Education irons out plans to decolonise English curriculum

The Department of Basic Education wants the curriculum to include more contemporary literature.

William Kentridge (world-renowned South African artist) opens up about money

William Kentridge (world-renowned South African artist) opens up about money

Bruce Whitfield interviews one of our most beloved artists of all time about his money hopes, fears, successes, failures, etc.

5 advantages of leasing instead of owning a car (lower monthly payments!)

5 advantages of leasing instead of owning a car (lower monthly payments!)

Want (or need) a new car? Dale Scorer (a wealth manager at AlphaWealth) reckons you should consider leasing.