George Sekonya

PhD Student

Supervisors: A/Prof Rachel Wynberg and A/Prof Frank Matose

I am a PhD in the EGS Department at UCT. I hold an MPhil and Bachelor’s Degrees from the Universities of Cape Town and Venda, respectively.

I had a very typical rural upbringing in which the harvesting and use of wild foods was a strong feature. In hindsight, this was to become an inspiration for my research interest in the socio-economic implications of the management, use and informal trade of non-timber forest products (NTFPs).

My PhD research, under the supervision of Rachel Wynberg and Frank Matose, is focused on the regulatory mechanisms, actor politics and social networks in the mopane worm informal trade. I am excited about this research as it brings me closer to the people of different nationalities, cultures and traditions whose livelihoods are connected by the movements and availability of mopane worms across national borders and other social barriers.

By “following the worm” the research aims to offer stimulating approaches to look at mopane worm trade and livelihoods. Given the growing unemployment levels and rural people looking into NTFPs for income generation, I hope that my research will shed some light on the intricacies of the cross-border trade and livelihoods of mopane worm harvesters and traders between Zimbabwe and South Africa.