Mandela’s cookbook has an extra ingredient—sweet justice

Personal Chef shares how she bonded a nation’s family together with food

WASHINGTON, DC—On Friday Busboys and Poets prepared a distinct dish—umsila wenkomo (oxtail stew)—from the prized cookbook,”Ukutya Kwasekhaya [home cooking] – Tastes from Nelson Mandela’s Kitchen,” by his personal chef, Xoliswa Ndiyiya. The cookbook shared 62 recipes enjoyed by former South African president Mandela’s family.

Hosting the special event, Andy Shallal, proprietor of Busboys, provided opening remarks. Special guests included Ebrahim Rasool, South African Ambassador to the US and Mandela’s daughter, Zindziswa (Zindzi) Mandela-Hlongwane who was 18 months old when her father was sent to Robben Island.

Busboys Owner Andy Shallal, Tambra Stevenson, and South African Ambassador Rasool

Marking the centennial of the African National Congress in South Africa, Ambassador Rasool gave thanks and started the dialogue for the first-ever Global African Diaspora Summit this May in South Africa.

”Twenty-two years ago South Africans struggled, marched and died for Mandela’s release from prison,” said Ambassador Rasool, “Apartheid wasn’t just a separation of people but also food. If you were a Black prisoner, you weren’t allowed to eat white bread.”

Retold in his memoir, “A Long Walk to Freedom” Mandela noted how racism impacted food choices. The problem of color existed in the sugar and bread: white prisoners had white sugar and white bread, colored and black prisoners’ brown sugar and black bread.” Ironically whole wheat bread was more nutritious than the white bread sold on the black market during Apartheid.

Ambassador Rasool looks on as Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane autographs her father's picture.

On stage Ndiyiya recalled her time with Mandela:  “He gave me the job in two seconds.” Fondly named ‘Dada’ he asked, ‘Tell me that you can cook our home food.’ Without delay, she said, “I can.”  One time US President Bill Clinton said to Mandela: ‘I will steal her from you.’ And he replied, ‘Not in your dreams.’ She was thankful that she contributed to his life. After the event, Mandela’s daughter autographed her father’s portrait in the Langston room.

Tambra Stevenson is the President of the Student Dietetic Association at the University of the District of Columbia where she is refreshing her media skills by taking a web journalism course. You can follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/Tambra or email her at tambra.stevenson@alumni.tufts.edu.

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