Dashiki Dialogues: Honour thy Sunday lunch

2012-03-16 12:08

I recently got into trouble on Facebook for asking whether the current generation of township mothers – or homemakers, to be PC – had abandoned the Sunday lunch as a family building exercise.

Maybe my wording was a little rough and untidy. Anyway, here’s how the story went.

I’d been visiting a friend in Mabopane, Tshwane. After a long jovial day that included back-and-forth strolls from the local shops, we observed a very interesting fact.

Though it was a Sunday, not once had we picked up any indication of cooking in the air. No burning meat, no spices, nothing we grew up knowing as the scent of Sunday ekasi.

However, though our observation had us figure that fewer mothers were cooking, which meant less families were sitting together to share meals and take stock of their condition, we noticed there were a whole lot of people coming to and from the spaza shops to buy some “sphatlhos”, or kotas.

Ok, white people, in case you are confused, sphatlho refers to a food item that is black people’s answer to what Indians call a bunny chow.

It’s a quarter of a loaf of bread stuffed with all sorts of treats like cheese, vienna, chips and atchar. Now if you don’t know what atchar is, I’ll have to give up
on you.

Anyway, my Facebook people came down hard on me for sharing these observations. It was like I aired the family’s dirty laundry in public. A female acquaintance even said I was offensive and out of line.

Another pointed out that while I was busy sticking my nose in Mabopane’s business, I wasn’t home with my family enjoying that sacrosanct meal. Well touché, amigo.

The fervour of these responses told me that I was on to something. It seems people care a great deal about these things.

These aren’t just simple meals or get-togethers with aunts and gogos. Sunday lunch is an important ritual at the heart of people’s identities.

We all know how your mum, granny or aunt could quickly sniff out a new bad habit, new girlfriend or even drugs just by observing you across the table as you sat there munching away on a piece of chicken.

The wrath of my Facebook friends betrayed their fear at losing these apparently mundane, yet critical institutions. And it’s justifiable.

Unless we sustain everyday rituals that bring guardians and minors together for regular rigorous dialogues, ours will be a future of lost dashikis.

» Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu

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