Zim’s traditional meal cookout thrills Sadc ministers

26 May, 2022 - 00:05 0 Views
Zim’s traditional meal cookout thrills Sadc ministers First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Tourism Hon Mary Francis Masanja, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Environment, Forests and Tourism Hon Heather Mwiza Sibungo and Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Hon Rodney Sikumba look at some of the traditional dishes prepared during Amai’s cook out traditional meal cooking competition in Victoria Falls yesterday.— Pictures: John Manzongo

The Herald

Tendai Rupapa in VICTORIA FALLS

THE second edition of First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s traditional meal cookout competition in Victoria Falls yesterday was colourful and a resounding success, attracting ministers from the Sadc region who expressed eagerness to do the same in their home countries to ensure citizens benefit from the food’s high nutritional value and medicinal properties.

Women of various age groups, drawn from all the country’s 10 provinces, showcased unmatched skills in preparing mouth-watering and innovative indigenous dishes at the event which was hosted by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry which is taking Dr Mnangagwa’s vision to promote the country’s traditional dishes to another level. Equally represented were members of the previously marginalised San community who are being fully integrated with the rest of the country, thanks to Dr Mnangagwa’s tireless efforts. The San community was participating in the competitions for the first time and to show her appreciation and welcoming them, Amai Mnangagwa gave them sets of pots and other kitchen utensils.

Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry, Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni, Sport, Arts and Recreation Deputy Minister Tino Machakaire, Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Kindness Paradza and Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Deputy Minister Barbara Rwodzi and Ministers of State were in attendance among other dignitaries.

Traditional Chiefs led by Chiefs Council president Chief Fortune Charumbira and their spouses also attended.

The visiting ministers from Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania were spellbound by the African-themed event, praised the First Lady and promised to do the same in their home countries.

Some of the dishes prepared during Amai’s cook out traditional meal cooking competition organised by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry in advancement of First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s vision of promoting consumption of traditional foods in Victoria Falls yesterday.

Namibia Deputy Minister of Environment, Forests and Tourism Heather Mwiza Sibungo said it was an exciting experience to be part of yesterday’s programme.

“Indeed I am proud that the showcase has taught us to be proud of what we have as Africa. As Africans we are rich and I was gratified to see the ladies taking over as leaders. We saw the efforts that women are doing to have all the traditional pots of food. I am really proud to know that as Africans we can be able to produce even our own medicines using our indigenous herbs without having to import. Why should we import our things from Europe? It is time we keep our resources and it’s a really exciting moment. The First Lady of Zimbabwe did a really good thing by coming up with this initiative. This is a good idea that I need to also share with my First Lady at home. This is the time we bring our women on board because they have so many talents,” she said.

Zambia’s Minister of Tourism, Mr Rodney Sikumba, said the traditional meal cookout competition boded well for tourism and said his country will follow-suite and do exactly the same for the benefit of its citizenry.

“It has come at a time when just last weekend back home in Zambia we were witnessing amateur chefs who were trying to become executive chefs in Zambia. These are local Zambians who are trying to claim a certain position in the culinary business. One of the key things I mentioned to them was this particular kind of showcasing is what we call in tourism as gastronomy tourism. The good thing with gastronomy tourism is that as Africans we need to start seeing opportunities and how we can market our own foods. When we invite tourists to come and visit us in Zambia we need to showcase the local dishes that we have to offer. We shouldn’t shy away from putting them at the top of our menus to say this is what we have,” he said.

“From where I come from Zambia, we would like to copy this shamelessly. We are going to call all our 72 dialects. We are going to group them together so that they start showcasing our indigenous foods and we are going to agree on the standard of the food that needs to be available in all those international restaurants and big hotels. Zimbabwe you have inspired us.”

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Mangaliso Ndlovu, his deputy Barbra Rwodzi, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Tourism Hon Mary Francis Masanja, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Environment, Forests and Tourism Hon Heather Mwiza Sibungo and Zambia Deputy Minister of Tourism Hon Rodney Sikumba look at some of the traditional dishes prepared during Amai’s cook out traditional meal cooking competition in Victoria Falls yesterday.

Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Mary Masanja congratulated the First Lady, Dr Mnangagwa for the programme which she said was of great tourism importance.

“First of all I want to congratulate you Zimbabwe for this occasion. It impressed me as today I saw traditional food which the local people prepared and I can see it is common food which is readily available. Looking at tourism, it is very interesting because when we show it to the investors and tourists it is of great value. It is best to know our traditional food and how to prepare them and their nutritional benefits. We are proud to see other Africans embracing their traditional foods like we saw here in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Countless prizes were up for grabs in the African-themed competitions and these included four-plate gas stoves, microwaves, sets of pots, gas tanks, food hampers and toiletries hampers.

Unlike exotic dishes and fast foods, traditional dishes help consumers remain healthy and strong without risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

The First Lady launched her traditional meal cookout competition in 2020 to promote the uptake of indigenous dishes and ensure citizens benefit from their nutritional value and medicinal properties, which was a success up to the national finals in 2021.

Thereafter she handed over the programme to the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry.

The ministry this year engaged communities which also fully embraced Amai’s vision and started 2022 competitions in which two people were selected from each province for the finals in Victoria Falls and invited Amai Mnangagwa to see the fruits of her vision.

One of the contestants, Mrs Angela Mloyi, representing Mashonaland East Province prepared spaghetti made from dried mapudzi which are pounded and mixed with pounded sesame seeds to make flour. The flour is then mixed with eggs to make a dough which is then cut into spaghetti strips. The spaghetti was served with mince.

She also showcased Zimbabwean Auxillia Mnangagwa Ice Tea22 (ZAMIT22) which is made from crushed smellyberry fingerleaf fruit (tsubvu), watermelon juice and squeezed zumbani leaves. Besides being refreshing she said it is also medicinal and suitable for diabetics.

Mrs Mloyi said she named her tea after the First Lady in appreciation of her efforts to open the nation’s eyes on the importance of traditional dishes.

Part of the crowd that attended Amai’s cook out traditional meal cooking competition organised by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry in advancement of First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s vision in Victoria Falls yesterday.

The crafty cook also made “polony” which she named Zolony because it is made of overcooked mazondo blended with herbs. This zolony, she said, was strictly for men and no under 18.

She exhibited a cake made from freshly grated maize, sorghum and usika, saying there were prospects to create employment through traditional food.

“All these years we were seated in the terraces saying traditional foods were outdated. I then came up with an idea that we could take the traditional dishes to a private school for the new curriculum so that our children consume the dishes in a way they understand. We also sought to ensure the dishes benefit diabetics because if diabetics get good food they reduce the pills they take which saves the nation the bill of importing drugs,” she said.

Mrs Mloyi said it was essential to commercialise indigenous dishes to create employment and a complete package for tourists.

Mrs Patricia Ncube, who was representing Harare Province, prepared baobab cake, pumpkin scones, banana porridge, sorghum (zviyo) flakes, pumpkin juice and coated matemba.

Miss Yvonne Marashi (24), one of the youngest contestant, said she entered the competition to send a message to other young people that traditional foods were not backward, but in fact helpful.

“What motivated me to enter the competition is that many young people do not appreciate the value of indigenous dishes so I entered so that when we go to our provinces we will be able to teach the young that traditional foods build bodies unlike fast foods. If we take sorghum sadza, it helps build our bodies so that we do not have hypertension. These foods also keep diseases at bay. I will tell the young girls and boys to consume the dishes so that we grow strong and we fight diseases,” she said.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa talks to SADC Deputy Ministers of Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment (from left) Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Tourism Hon Mary Francis Masanja, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Environment, Forests and Tourism Hon Heather Mwiza Sibungo (2nd from left) and Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Hon Rodney Sikumba during Amai’s cook out traditional meal cooking competition in Victoria Falls yesterday.

Hailing from Mashonaland West Province, Ms Sharon Chingwaro, prepared smellyberry fingerleaf fruit (tsubvu) lollipop, smellyberry and masawu jelly, masawu chocolate tart which showed how locally available fruits can be cleverly packaged to arouse interest from the people.

Juices on display included a mixture of herbs like Chindambi, mufandichimuka, zumbani and moringa mix, Mukoyo maheu, Ginger and lemon water, baobab fruit juice, guava juice, lemon and alovera water.

Teas comprised Zumbani tea, baobab (mauyu) coffee and round nuts (nyimo) coffee.

Deputy Minister Rwodzi said she was glad the cookout competition was growing bigger and better each year, showcasing dishes that are unique to different areas of the country.

“I am happy to share that in each province we witnessed unique cooking styles and garnishing at a high level. This in itself amplifies that indeed each province has its unique way of cooking certain foods and signature dishes that differentiate each from another province which in turn dovetails to devolution. Amai there are four key issues that this programme is partaking on our nation. Number one it is uniting us as a nation because consuming our own food defines us as a people and as a country. Number two it is decolonising our minds. I am just saying what I have realised along the journey. It is decolonising our minds as a nation from the anatomy of defeat we suffered a long time ago when our country was colonised and we are still suffering the defeat. We were taught to diffuse or denounce our own food, to denounce our own names and to denounce at times our own languages and our way of dressing,” she said.

Tanzania’s Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Tourism Hon Mary Francis Masanja, Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Hon Rodney Sikumba and Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Environment, Forests and Tourism Hon Heather Mwiza Sibungo hand over food hampers on behalf of First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa to contestants who participated in Amai’s cook out traditional meal cooking competition in Victoria Falls yesterday.

Minister Ndlovu said the traditional cookout competition boded well for tourism while the contestants could be supported by various ministries into bigger businesses to promote employment.

“This event is in itself a culmination of your solid efforts Amai to leave an indelible mark on our intangible national heritage and the firm commitment to preserve our rich culture through promoting our national culinary. Our thrust as Government in line with the need to achieve an upper middle income economy by the year 2030 is to ensure we escalate the role of tourism in improving livelihoods of our people as alluded to by the honourable deputy minister.

“During this year’s cookout we were humbled by the huge turnout of enthusiastic women of all ages who are keen to make your initiative a huge success and also make a living out of making or producing the traditional tools and value adding them. What we now need to work on in close collaboration with the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and the Ministry of Women Affairs is how we can support all these contestants to incubate their ideas and scale them up into smaller and growing business units that can run sustainably and create employment for both the contestants and other fellow Zimbabweans. I am convinced that we can industrialise this programme at village and provincial levels to make culinary tourism for rural growth and equally promoting our uniqueness which is our tradition. Despite the difficult covid-19 conditions that we encountered in 2021 we are happy that we managed for the second – year running to host this event,” he said.

When she rose speak, the mother of the nation observed a moment of silence in memory of Mr Vusimuzi Khumalo (28), who was Chief Mabhikwa of Lupane, who died in a horrific crash on Sunday.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa congratulates Ms Sharon Chingwaro who could not contain tears of joy after she scooped the first prize in the national cook out competition where she walked away with two return air tickets to Johannesburg or Dar es Salaam, two nights accommodation at Victoria Falls Hotel, gas stove and gas tank, microwave and a food hamper in Victoria Falls yesterday.

In her address, Dr Mnangagwa said this year’s event was special as it coincided with Africa Day celebrations and she expressed gratitude that they were joined by ministers and deputy ministers from other parts of Africa.

As the health ambassador, the mother of the nation implored the nation to observe Covid-19 protocols of masking up, washing hands and observe social distancing.

“I welcome you in a very special way and thank you for being part of this event where we are celebrating the goodness of our traditional foods and reminding each other of the health benefits of the same. Ladies and gentlemen, the cookout competition is a platform created by my office and organised by the ministry of environment, climate, tourism and hospitality industry working together with its agency the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and other sister Government ministries. This year marks the second edition of the traditional food cookout competition which signifies the role local foods play in promoting local and international tourism, how it promotes good health, livelihoods and its importance as a source of culture preservation.”

While she had deliberately allowed the initiative to be led by the tourism sector the First Lady said what was critical now was for other stakeholders across all sub sectors of the culinary value chain to understand their role in the scheme of the national event.

“Let us join hands and work together. During the 2021 national cookout competition finals held in Harare I shared with you my vision that the cookout competitions should be held annually. Amai’s cookout competition was launched after the realisation that as a country we are fast losing touch with our traditional foods. “

Those who specialise with nutrition sciences and related studies, the first lady said, were clearly pointing out the health benefits of traditional foods compared to western foods.

Indeed, she said, it was true that traditional foods had medicinal properties that were also beneficial in the prevention of various diseases, kept bodies stronger and prolonged lives.

“That is why our ancestors used to be strong and lived longer than our generation. This ladies and gentlemen is an eye-opener to all of us. Let us go back to our culture and make sure the consumption of traditional foods does not vanish into thin air like how the other various aspects of our culture and traditions did.”

One of the objectives of the initiative, Dr Mnangagwa said, was to ensure that the preparation of the foods was done the right way without destroying the rich ingredients so that people get the full benefits. She said this was an awareness programme where they sought to alert the people of Zimbabwe on the various positive aspects of consuming traditional foods.

“As I stand here today I am more than pleased to note that the cookout competition has been embraced positively and this is evident by the huge turnout of people practically in all the provincial cookout competitions held this year.”

She urged the generality of people including church organisations, NGOs and even individuals to develop an interest and contribute positively in the national initiative whose benefits were far-reaching and multi-sectoral.

She praised the San community for coming on stream.

“Allow me at this stage to pay special tribute to the San people who are participating here for the first time. This is one of the cultural groups that have managed to preserve their cultural heritage and benefits even at a cost to their integration with the rest of Zimbabwe. The good thing is that His Excellency the President and I have taken a keen interest in their unadulterated way of life and have opened our arms and embraced them as they are, with their rich cultural norms and beliefs. We love and respect the way you have preserved your tradition. We welcome you to this competition.

She praised ministers of state for making provincial editions of the programme succeed.

Mrs Paulina Munkuli of Matabeleland was the winner for her indigenous ingredients knowledge and walked away with a set of pots, a hamper and Two nights’ accommodation.

Mrs Priscilla Kufakunesu was declared the most innovative contestant and won a set of pots, two nights’ accommodation at Elephant hills and a hamper.

Overall winners included Mrs Shelter Chitsungo of Mashonaland Central who came 3rd.

She won two nights’ accommodation at Rainbow Towers, a four plate Gas stove and a food hamper.

Mrs Angela Mloyi came second and won regional air tickets to Johannesburg for two, two nights bed and breakfast at A Zambezi, a four-plate gas stove, tank and a food hamper.

On number one was Mrs Sharon Chingwaro of Mashonaland West who scooped two return regional air tickets to Johannesburg or Dares salaam, two nights’ accommodation at Vic Falls Hotel, a gas stove and tank, a microwave and food hampers.

All the contestants were given food hampers courtesy of the First Lady who said to her, they were all winners.

Stiff competition at the finals and the willingness by ministers from other countries to embrace the First Lady’s efforts to promote the uptake of indigenous dishes shows the importance her vision and undying love for the country’s citizenry and quest to leave no one and no place behind.

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