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.


Recommended

by THE NEWSROOM

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
To play the (success) game well, get your game plan from the experts

To play the (success) game well, get your game plan from the experts

Ever wondered what the man who started Sorbet and a mathematical genius have in common?

Meet Kopano Matlwa Mabaso: Best-selling author and dedicated doctor

Meet Kopano Matlwa Mabaso: Best-selling author and dedicated doctor

At 21, she wrote a best-selling novel while studying medicine. Today, she's a doctor, a mother, and has three novels to her name.

Meet Helen Rees: Champion of public health

Meet Helen Rees: Champion of public health

Meet a champion fighting for the health of our nation!

Meet Maggie and Malebo Mokotedi: Queens of holistic healthcare

Meet Maggie and Malebo Mokotedi: Queens of holistic healthcare

Mother and daughter team Maggie and Malebo Mokotedi are making a difference with state-of-the-art healthcare in South Africa.

Meet Adri Williams: Changing lives, one cookie at a time

Meet Adri Williams: Changing lives, one cookie at a time

Khayelitsha Cookies is more than just a biscuit brand - it's the product of an inspiring journey of social entrepreneurship.

Meet multi-skilled rugby star Siya Kolisi

Meet multi-skilled rugby star Siya Kolisi

Growing up disadvantaged in the Eastern Cape, becoming an international rugby star was the furthest thing from Siya Kolisi’s mind.

Popular articles
[LISTEN] Biomimicry could be the answer to Cape Town’s water crises

[LISTEN] Biomimicry could be the answer to Cape Town’s water crises

Certified biomimicry professional & founder of Biomimicry SA Claire Janisch chats about how biomimicry can help humans adapt.

Hawks video shows fugitive Ajay Gupta leaving SA

Hawks video shows fugitive Ajay Gupta leaving SA

The Hawks are in possession of video footage showing Gupta, wanted in connection with Vrede dairy farm scandal, leaving SA.

JoJo - struggling to keep up with demand - now has a turnover of R600 million

JoJo - struggling to keep up with demand - now has a turnover of R600 million

The JoJo brand has entrenched itself in the psyche of South Africans. Bruce Whitfield interviews its MD, Grant Neser.

'Today, Zuma declared war on the ANC'

'Today, Zuma declared war on the ANC'

Political analyst Richard Calland says there was a sinister and threatening tone to President Zuma's interview with the SABC.

Hope Ramaphosa: Cyril never lifted a finger to me, he wouldn't beat a woman

Hope Ramaphosa: Cyril never lifted a finger to me, he wouldn't beat a woman

Cyril Ramaphosa's ex-wife says abuse allegations spread by EFF leader Julius Malema are an attempt to tarnish his reputation.

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

3 emergency numbers you should have on speed dial and how they work

These are the emergency numbers you should have on your cellphone and this is what you must understand about how they work.

Clifton in Cape Town is the 2nd best beach in the world – National Geographic

Clifton in Cape Town is the 2nd best beach in the world – National Geographic

The magazine describes Cape Town as a city flanked by stunning beaches and calls it “The African Capital of Cool”.