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 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.

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.

Popular articles
'Land restitution failed because Government is the biggest owner of land'

'Land restitution failed because Government is the biggest owner of land'

Bruce Whitfield interviews Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba's advisor Chris Malikane and Business Leadership SA's Bonang Mohale.

Winter blues got you down? What you must know about Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter blues got you down? What you must know about Seasonal Affective Disorder

Don't brush off that yearly feeling or a seasonal funk. Here's how to help keep your mood and motivation up throughout the year.

So what exactly is radical economic transformation?

So what exactly is radical economic transformation?

Wits associate professor of economics Christopher Malikane speaks to Azania Mosaka about the term that is being bandied about.

ANC MP Makhosi Khoza writes about "leadership injudiciousness" in the party

ANC MP Makhosi Khoza writes about "leadership injudiciousness" in the party

Concerned ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza writes a heart felt Facebook post detailing immoral leadership and personal challenges.

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

It's not the end of the road... Top tips to improve your matric

"Recognise that it’s not the end, it’s the beginning." Expert advise for school-leavers who want to improve their results.

NSFAS to reopen 2017 applications

NSFAS to reopen 2017 applications

National Student Financial Aid Scheme says it will reopen 2017 loan applications after receiving requests for deadline extension.

'Collect experiences, NOT possessions!' - Paul Theron (Vestact MD)

'Collect experiences, NOT possessions!' - Paul Theron (Vestact MD)

Bruce Whitfield interviews the razor-sharp tongued Vestact MD Paul Theron about his money hopes, fears, successes, failures, etc.

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...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?

5 reasons why the tourism industry is sceptical about the latest numbers

5 reasons why the tourism industry is sceptical about the latest numbers

The tourism industry is questioning the veracity of the surprisingly upbeat tourism figures and the timing of their release.