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.

702 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 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 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.

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

Read More
Meet Knowledge Bengu – Master of the SA Agulhas II

Meet Knowledge Bengu – Master of the SA Agulhas II

From a township in Durban to the command of a research vessel breaking through Antarctica ice - meet Captain Knowledge Bengu.

Meet Mteto Nyati: King of ICT transformation

Meet Mteto Nyati: King of ICT transformation

Meet Altron's CEO, the ICT powerhouse entrusted with the transformation of businesses across South Africa, and the continent.

Meet Melissa van Hoogstraten: Baking her way into SA’s heart

Meet Melissa van Hoogstraten: Baking her way into SA’s heart

From a tiny store in Cape Town to something of an empire within 20 years, Melissa’s has cemented itself in the hearts of SA.

Meet Gavin Keller: The principal who has reimagined the classroom

Meet Gavin Keller: The principal who has reimagined the classroom

In 2015, Sun Valley Primary made headlines for ditching homework. Now, meet the man at the helm of the school where kids are taught to think and how to fail.

Meet Marlene le Roux, the transformation stalwart who helms Artscape Theatre

Meet Marlene le Roux, the transformation stalwart who helms Artscape Theatre

From an upbringing in a time marked as our most tumultuous, Marlene has come through the trenches to rise above – and then pay it forward.

Meet Luke Dale-Roberts: Master of culinary invention

Meet Luke Dale-Roberts: Master of culinary invention

Meet The Test Kitchen's Luke Dale-Roberts, the man who is setting South Africa’s taste buds alight with high-end dining experiences that blow foodies out of the water.

Popular articles
Students not coping with current curriculum, innovation is needed

Students not coping with current curriculum, innovation is needed

Curriculum expert, Bronwen Willson-Thompson, says the majority of students are not coping with the existing curriculum.

Exciting times for cricket fans with the announcement of the T20 Global League

Exciting times for cricket fans with the announcement of the T20 Global League

Cricket South Africa (CSA) launched its new T20 Global League on Monday in London.

Popping the big question soon? Here's how you can plan your perfect proposal

Popping the big question soon? Here's how you can plan your perfect proposal

Pippa Lund and her team are here to ensure your planned marriage proposal is nothing short of amazing.

Are you having panic attacks? Here's what you need to know

Are you having panic attacks? Here's what you need to know

Behavioural psychologist Dr Helgo Schomer explains the symptoms, treatments and tips for people who suffer panic attacks.

Insurance companies could hit you hard for an accident you didn't cause

Insurance companies could hit you hard for an accident you didn't cause

Legal advisor at RBS explains insurance companies 80/20 rule that holds motorists equally liable for accidents caused.

Don't be rude: 5 ways to practice cell phone etiquette

Don't be rude: 5 ways to practice cell phone etiquette

It's important to confront friends and family if they seem distracted by their phones, says Afro Protocol founder Courtenay Carey.

Home Affairs to follow up on special dispensation permit for Zimbabweans in SA

Home Affairs to follow up on special dispensation permit for Zimbabweans in SA

Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize says her department will respond to all Zimbabweans under special dispensation.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...