Writing Art History Since 2002

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Heritage Day is a proud day for all South Africans. It is an occasion for celebrating our nation’s diversity and the soul of our many richly flavoured cultures. These celebrations are expressed in many ways representing our vast national mixture of races, religions and rituals. However, there is a commonality to all the millions in our country and it centers around food, family and feasting.

The soul of our nation can be found in its love for food and the laughter and happiness it brings to homes across the country. Where else in the world could one find revered restaurants and walky-talky street braais across the road from one another? Or award- winning wines and locally brewed Umqombothi produced on the same farm. South Africa has it all. Variety is truly the spice of life.
In the spirit of sharing heritage (and food!), I asked my domestic worker Nobanesi to invite me into her home for a day to experience and photograph her preparations for Heritage Day. Having discovered that Xhosa chicken and the samp is the staple to millions in our country, I was honored to experience the ritual of finding, slaughtering and preparing food with a traditional Xhosa mother, grandmother and daughter living in an informal settlement in Cape Town. The story is written in her words and captured on camera.
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This is Nobanesi’s story:
“We wake up and we go to the forest to fetch wood, then we go to the river to fetch some water and we make fire. Then we use the Black Pot and a three feet.
We cook the samp. We soak the samp with warm water for 30 minutes and then we mix it with beans. We wash it and then we cook it for 1 ½ hours. We put in the salt and Holsun (butter) then it is yummy!
We buy live chickens from the farmers. We call the chickens Umleqwa (Xhosa chickens). It is from the Karoo in the Eastern Cape and we buy it because it is growth hormone and preservative- free. We slaughter it and then wash it to be cooked. While we cook it, we add some spring onion from our garden and the spicy chicken to make it tasty. When it is ready to eat, it is Mncwaaa!
We have got Umqombothi (our traditional beer) for the adults after the meal and for those who don’t drink alcohol and the kids, we have Marhewu, our juice or dessert.”
Nobanesi Mqaleni is from Nomzamo in Somerset West, South Africa. 
She is our own domestic goddess.
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All photographs: Theresa Wiid.
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Written by AmaCulture Food Editor: Tania Harrison
To view all the photographs of the shoot, go to www.whitespacecreative.co.za/assets/ws_heritage-day_2014.pdf

Ama CultureArt South Africa‘s weekly lifestyle column. 

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