First lady’s regional cookout competition lights up Africa Day
Tendai Rupapa in MASVINGO
FIRST LADY Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa on Thursday scored a first, hosting her inaugural regional traditional cookout competition at the historic Great Zimbabwe monuments in Masvingo.
The competition drew participants from the SADC region and other parts of Africa who showcased their indigenous dishes at a colourful event which coincided with Africa Day celebrations.
Dr Mnangagwa, who is the country’s environment and tourism Patron, introduced Amai’s traditional cookout competition in 2020.
Following its successful implementation, the programme has gained popularity, culminating in a first-of-its-kind regional traditional gastronomy tourism festival.
Countless mouth-watering traditional dishes, which boast high nutritional value and medicinal properties, were prepared.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Namibian Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Hon Heather Sibungo Mwiza, UNWTO African Regional Director Marie-Alise Elcia Grandcourt, look at Democratic Republic of Congo traditional dishes prepared during the regional traditional cook-out competition in Masvingo on Africa Day.
Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana and Nigeria were among nations that had participants in support of Dr Mnangagwa’s efforts to promote indigenous dishes which unlike exotic dishes, do not expose consumers to diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular challenges.
Zimbabwe also had participants in the vibrant competition which saw Kenya and Uganda participating on a benchmarking basis.
Winners walked away with prizes.
The First Lady’s initiative also set the platform for the growth in gastronomy tourism where people visit countries to sample exotic cuisine.
Judges were drawn from Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
The event attracted SADC Ambassadors to Zimbabwe led by their dean, Mozambican Ambassador Mr Francisco Elias Paulo Cigarro.
Uganda’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Mrs D. Katsuiime and Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Mrs Heather Sibungo Mwiza, UNWTO regional director for Africa Mrs Elcia Grandcourt were also among the dignitaries.
A hands-on person and an avid lover of traditional dishes, Dr Mnangagwa prepared some dishes to motivate the contestants.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Namibian Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Hon Heather Sibungo Mwiza, UNWTO African Regional Director Marie-Alise Elcia Grandcourt, look at Botswana traditional dishes prepared during the regional traditional cookout competition in Masvingo on Africa Day.
She was joined in her kitchen by other women, including ministers from other countries whom she taught how to prepare Zimbabwean dishes.
The dishes they prepared included fried matemba, madora, biltong in peanut butter, groundnuts, round nuts, rice in peanut butter, millet, sorghum and rapoko sadza, white sadza, oxtail, goat meat, offals, whole bream and nhopi.
Her dessert featured baobab mousse, tsubvu cake, sweet potato strudel and hodzeko cheese cake.
Juices included maheu and baobab juice.
The women also shared with the mother of the nation how they prepare their dishes in their respective countries.
People had the opportunity to indulge in some delicious Zimbabwean delicacies which Amai Mnangagwa prepared.
Mrs Wentso Ifu, the wife to Nigerian Ambassador to Zimbabwe added colour to the event with West African dishes like pepe beef, pepe chicken, puff puff, jollof rice, vegetable soup, Egusi soup, okra soup, baobab soup, baobab leaves and rice fufu.
Participants from the Democratic Republic of Congo showcased mbika soup which helps those with heart and kidney ailments, fumbwa vegetables in peanut oil that give strength to the body, pundu vegetables mixed with smoked fish in palm oil, capdain fish which is grilled fish mixed with cucumbers and green pepper, mbinzo, fufu and kwanga made from pundu roots.
From Angola were Mrs Salome Santana, Ms Yoana Cunha and Ms Luzia Luquembo who showcased fish and chicken fillet, Sumo De Mucua which is prepared using baobab powder, water, sugar and ginger, calulu de peixe a mixture of fish, spinach, okra in palm oil, mufete, goat stew and offals which they call gingiga, funge de dombo (cassava flour sadza).
Their dessert had Tizana (samp meal, coconut and cinamon), passion fruit mousse and Fried cassava.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Namibian Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Hon Heather Sibungo Mwiza, UNWTO African Regional Director Marie-Alise Elcia Grandcourt, look at Mozambican traditional dishes prepared during the regional traditional cookout competition in Masvingo on Africa Day.
Contestants from Botswana, Mrs Edna Rosen and Chefs Nami Makali and Samba Ardern, showcased dishes like Morula salad, seswaa, fatcook with mopane worm filling, thimone (grinded peanuts, beans, maize), whole wheat salad, sour sorghum porridge served with vegetables, meat and pumpkins.
For dessert, they had morula/magwinya.
Participants from Namibia, Mrs Charmaine Forbes and Mrs Camila Pandeni, prepared fish soup, mahango porridge, roosterbrood chicken in marula oil and beef potjiekos among many other dishes.
Their dessert had creamy amarula fat cook.
Messrs Conte Manuel Antonio and Alberto Magune of Mozambique led by Mrs Eugenia Lucio wife to Mozambican ambassador to Zimbabwe weighed in with coconut chicken, fish, prawns in garlic and lemon, pounded cassava mixed with pounded peanuts and coconut, coconut rice and tripe.
Their dessert had cassava.
Zimbabwean contestants were not to be outdone.
Mrs Angeline Muponda, this year’s national winner prepared mutakura, mbwire mbwire, mutukuya (samp mixed with milk and honey), guinea fowl in peanut butter, friend taro, chikodza mvana, mazondo, mharupwa (medicinal vegetables that prevent malaria), mowa, road runner, dried vegetables, rabbit, fried madhumbe and sorghum and millet sadza.
Her drinks comprised gogoya juice, nhunguru juice and watermelon juice.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu, Namibian Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Hon Heather Sibungo Mwiza, UNWTO African Regional Director Marie-Alise Elcia Grandcourt, Kenyan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Stella Munyi look at Namibian traditional dishes prepared during the regional traditional cook-out competition in Masvingo on Africa Day.
Mrs Clara Madzoke, who came second at this year’s national competition, gave a sizzling menu whose starters were sweet potato, madora, harurwa, cheddar sesame sticks, mealie bread and wheat bread.
Her main course included traditional rice, road runner, bean stew, matumbu, maguru, sorghum sadza, mustard vegetable in peanut butter, black jack, mushrooms, stuffed pumpkin, cowpeas and matumbu pizza.
For desserts she had guavas and pumpkin pudding.
The wife to Chief Makoni, Mrs Redempter Gwasira, showcased samp mixed with roundnuts, and groundnuts in chicken soup.
For the main course, she offered zondo in garlic, ginger and beer, stuffed rabbit (stuffed with wild vegetables), brown rice stuffed with cheese and fried in balls, samp bolognese, rolled tripe, zvinyenze kebab, mice, birds, taro fritters and peanut butter cup cakes.
Mrs Gwasira’s dessert had millet waffles with honey and peanut butter rice in chocolate dip.
Mrs Sharon Chingwaro, a successful entrepreneur and 2022 winner of Amai’s traditional cookout competition also showcased some of her herbal products.
Chef Edna Rosen could not hide her excitement.
“I am representing Botswana in this beautiful event,” she said. “We are showcasing the different dishes we consume in our country. Among other dishes, we have sorghum which is also our staple food and we prepared many dishes with it from starter to dessert.
“We noticed that many African countries have sorghum. The programme is extremely important because traditional food in Africa should be recognised worldwide. As Africans, we have not been embracing it that much but events like this, brings people together who are proud of their food and their culture.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Namibian Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Hon Heather Sibungo Mwiza, Kenyan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Stella Munyi and other dignitaries look at Angolan traditional dishes prepared during the regional traditional cook-out competition organised by Dr Mnangagwa in Masvingo on Africa Day.
“We want to thank the First Lady of Zimbabwe for this programme and we hope to see more of these in Zimbabwe and we will definitely participate again.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Ms Yoana Cunha, the second secretary at the embassy of Angola.
“We are here to participate in gastronomy tourism on Africa Day,” she said. “We are proud to be here and we learnt a lot about other traditional foods being showcased by other African countries. We brought our traditional food to also show Africa what we have.
“We are grateful for the invitation to participate in this noble programme. The programme also brought people together and as Africans we shared recipes and ideas on how to prepare dishes consumed around Africa.”
The First Lady, who is the country’s Environment and Tourism Patron, started the event by leading in planting waterberry trees at Great Zimbabwe, which was the venue of the event.
After tree planting, Amai Mnangagwa entered her kitchen to prepare meals with assistance from women from other countries where she shared knowledge on the medicinal properties and nutritional value of Zimbabwean dishes.
She later toured exhibition tables where the food was being showcased.
Addressing the gathering, the First Lady said she felt honoured to address the gsthering at the historic occasion as they congregated for the maiden SADC Regional Traditional Gastronomy Tourism Competitions in Zimbabwe.
The event, she said, was a key milestone achievement in the region as it sought to grow and popularise the African cuisine industry as part of the global tourism industry.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Namibian Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Hon Heather Sibungo Mwiza, UNWTO African Regional Director Marie-Alise Elcia Grandcourt, Kenyan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Stella Munyi and other dignitaries sample the Zimbabwean traditional dishes they prepared at the regional traditional cook-out competition in Masvingo on Africa Day.
“This becomes even more urgent as the region, and indeed the continent recover from the effects of COVID 19,” said the First Lady. “As part of this recovery programme, we need to rebrand and it would not be an understatement to say that our local cuisine offers great opportunities and benefits in that regard.
“The concept of the Traditional Cookout Competition Programme we are witnessing today is as a result of my endless passion to promote and preserve our culture and tradition as Africans, after realising the impending threat to our values as a result of cultural dilution and indeed, cultural erosion. I really felt the imperative need and enhance awareness among the people of Zimbabwe on the importance of consuming traditional foods in this contemporary age, where we are vulnerable to various forms of health challenges. Hence, the birth of the Traditional Cookout Competitions in 2021.”
Gastronomy Tourism, the First Lady emphasized, had enormous potential to attract high-value tourists who were willing to spend on unique and authentic food experiences.
“In addition, gastronomy tourism can help to promote local food traditions, support small businesses, and create jobs in the tourism industry,” she said. “Ultimately, this has a positive impact on community livelihoods and a country’s economy.
“Some countries like France, Portugal, Mexico, Italy, Spain and China are home to countless mouthwatering dishes and this makes tourists flock to such destinations.
Namibian traditional dishes which were prepared by contestants during the regional traditional cook-out competition organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa at Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo on Africa Day.
“It is imperative for the SADC region to embrace Gastronomy Tourism especially as it is important for our rural communities, many of which face rapid urbanisation and are shifting away from traditional economic sectors. Since food is so deeply connected to its origin, this focus allows destinations to market themselves as truly unique, appealing to those travellers who look for gastronomy tourism.
“One of the most significant benefits of Gastronomy Tourism is its ability to bring people together and foster cultural exchanges, as witnessed in today’s competition. Today, we have sumptuous traditional food prepared from various countries within the SADC region being showcased.
“Food is a universal language, and through it, we can share our traditions, history, and values with others. We have taken advantage of this event to experience the culture and traditions of our sister countries. By experiencing the local cuisine and dining together, tourists can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the culture of the destination, thereby enhancing prospects which move more tourists visiting.”
The First Lady said she was of the view that efforts to develop and enrich traditional dishes should not be restricted to competitions only but become a lifestyle to all.
She said it is in this regard that she initiated the production of Amai’s Cookout Book, which is a book containing peculiar traditional recipes.
Botswana traditional dishes which were prepared by contestants during the regional traditional cook-out competition organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa at Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo on Africa Day.
The preservation of the recipes, she said, was essential as it ensured that people preserved traditions for passed future generations.
“It is also my wish to ensure that the African Traditional Cuisines are embraced by all people, both local and international through hotels, restaurants, airlines, among other facilities and institutions,” said the First Lady.
“As a region, we have over-relied on our major common tourist attractions, and its time we broaden the tourism product base to offer varied experiences to our tourists. Tastes and preferences of our clients are changing, let us continue to diversify our products and attract a wider clientele base.
“This will, inevitably, make the region the preferred destination of choice. Going forward, with the assistance of UNWTO we would like to see more and more participation from the African Region as we run with the AU Agenda 2063 and aim to achieve set targets of healthy and well-nourished nationals, as well as high standards of living, quality life and well-being. This is also in sync with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN – SDGs) under the UN Agenda 2030.”
Dr Mnangagwa congratulated all contestants for participating at the SADC Regional Cookout Competitions and urged them to continue coming up with more innovative ways of preparing traditional dishes.
“I urge you to make use of traditional leaders and chiefs’ spouses in your countries to continue taping on their indigenous knowledge in preparing traditional foods,” she said.
Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira said his province was delighted to host the colourful event.
Democratic Republic of Congo traditional dishes which were prepared by contestants during the regional traditional cook-out competition organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa at Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo on Africa Day.
“We are proud to host the event which is being held on Africa Day and culture week as we celebrate our rich cultural diversity. We want to thank Amai, the First Lady who is the brains behind this initiative,” he said.
Deputy Minister Mwiza from Namibia said gastronomy is more than just food as it is a celebration of culture, heritage and a way of promoting and understanding our oneness.
“Although we are eating at different places, we are essentially eating out of the same pot strengthening our bonds as Africans and human race overall,” she said. “Namibia is divided into 14 political regions comprising of 11 ethnic groups. Even though people have moved and integrated with other nations and ethnic groups, that gastronomy is still predominant to the locals of specific regions. Gastronomy is one area that provide economic opportunities.
Nigerian traditional dishes which were prepared by contestants during the regional traditional cook-out competition organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in Masvingo on Africa Day.
“African traditional cuisines are becoming more popular and we should capitalise on this. We want to thank the First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for this programme which has opened our eyes. Namibia will soon invite you for a similar programme.”
Mrs Grandcourt said, “Africa is a vast and diverse continent, with vibrant cities and rich cultures. Africa is also a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation and boasts some of the most exciting tourism destinations on the planet.
“For many millions of people across Africa, tourism is a real lifeline. But the sector’s potential is still to be truly realized. Managed properly, tourism can accelerate socio-economic recovery and growth, and it can spur wealth creation and inclusive development. The removal of tariff barriers and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) undoubtedly brings new opportunities for Africa.
Angolan traditional dishes which were prepared by contestants during the regional traditional cook-out competition organised by First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa at Great Zimbabwe monument in Masvingo on Africa Day.
“At the same time, regional collaboration and harmonised aviation policies in line with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) will help us achieve the objectives of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the UN Agenda 2030.”
The UNWTO said in support to its member states respond to the current challenges of tourism, particularly the need for more trained workers and more and better-targeted tourism investments, there was need to realign its agenda for Africa: “Tourism for Inclusive Growth and above all, we will continue to advocate for tourism as driver for positive change and a pillar of economic growth for the continent.On behalf of everyone at UNWTO, I wish you all a happy Africa Day.”
Mozambican ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Francisco Elias Paulo Cigarro sang praises to the First Lady for the regional cookout.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu and Minister Ezra Chadzamira hand over a cheque and shield to the first runner-up Ms Clara Madzoke (Zimbabwe) during the regional traditional cook-out competition in Masvingo.
“We are very much delighted to be part of this historic event where we see African foods being celebrated by African people. Africa has got unique Natural African foods that are God-given and were consumed by our forefathers living long lives. This is mainly because of the nutritional and medicinal value in our natural African foods. In fact, most African foods are very natural with little to no fertilisers. We need our food as Africans to spread and be served as a global cuisine always associated with the specific region, country or culture resulting in gastromony experience. Ladies and gentlemen, I want to commend Zimbabwe, especially the First Lady Her Excellency Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for this initiative which has paved the way for African cuisine,” he said to applause.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over a cheque and shield to 2nd runner-up Mrs Wenso Ifu (wife to Nigerian Ambassador to Zimbabwe) while Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu and Minister Ezra Chadzamira look on during the regional traditional cook-out competition in Masvingo.
Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu encouraged the nation, region and beyond to fully embrace traditional food and culture.
He said his ministry was proud of the First Lady as their patron for coming up with the programme.
The Namibian team came first, earning US$5 000 cash and a holiday voucher in Zimbabwe worth the same amount.
On second place was Zimbabwe represented by Mrs Clara Madzoke.
She pocketed a cool US$2 500 and received a holiday voucher.
First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over prizes to team Namibia that came first in the regional traditional cook-out competition in Masvingo on Africa Day.
In third place was team Nigeria which received US$1 500 and a holiday voucher.
All the contestants received tokens of appreciation from the First Lady.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Raj Modi, Deputy Minister of Women Affairs Jennifer Mhlanga, ICT Minister Jenfan Muswere, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade David Musabayana and Ministers of State also attended the event.
Youth arts ensemble Iyasa, the ZCC Brass Band and several other cultural groups, provided entertainment.