Presentation Title

How Cross Culture Food Helped Overthrow Apartheid in South Africa

Faculty Mentor

Jessica Danger

Start Date

17-11-2018 8:15 AM

End Date

17-11-2018 8:30 AM

Location

C151

Session

Oral 1

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Abstract

How Cross-Cultural Food Helped Overthrow Apartheid in South Africa.

Nutritionists say that in order to be considered healthy, one must balance the intake of proteins, carbohydrates and, the all important vegetables and fruits according to the widely accepted food pyramid. In certain demographics, social and financial circumstances dictate that one might not have access to all manner of appropriate nutrition. Racially segregated Apartheid South Africa in the seventies and eighties is a prime example of how certain foods were inaccessible to poor black, Indian, Asian, and other non-white citizens. In her book, “Starving on a Full Stomach: Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa.”, author Diana Wylie, discusses how Apartheid South Africa used lack of nutritious food to ensure the oppression of non-white citizens, particularly the black majority. Inexpensive, non-nutritious but plentiful foods, such as maize meal, were used to feed poor non-whites. I will argue that this oppression led to the innovation of now popular recipes, a greater understanding of nutrition, and a wonderful sharing of cross-cultural foods that aided in the overthrow of Apartheid South Africa. At a time when political conversations about racial equality and voting rights for all were banned and considered treasonous, South Africans found a way to share cultural food that ultimately led to a subversive conversation of how shared hunger and food appreciation can, and did, lead to an initial version of equality. Sharing of food culture and being willing to explore alternative food culture, made it possible for racially diverse people to find a manner of acceptance of one another. Originally intended to deprive, cross cultural food became one of the corner stones of ensuring racially diverse South Africans found a common ground on which to stand in order to fight Apartheid. Given the importance of food, and the lack of food, during this tumultuous time in South Africa, much has been written about the value of food and the motivation that hunger provided in ensuring the progressive nature of the anti-Apartheid movement. This author relied heavily on writing from authors who have first hand knowledge and experience in dealing with food and the important participants in this discourse. Very emotional, in-person interviews were also conducted with various participants who understood, and used food, in the struggle to overthrow Apartheid.

Summary of research results to be presented

It was only when I reached my teenage years, being removed from my family, safely ensconced in a boarding school that I realized how important food was in the fight against apartheid. On one innocuous Monday morning, I walked into my English class to find my English teacher sporting a black eye and a tearful demeanor. Despite knowing that she ran the risk of being fired, she told us how she had been spending her weekends in Soweto, a black township, teaching young children how to speak, read, and write English. The simple association of black and white people was considered treasonous. Educating black youngsters in an international language was considered to be particularly heinous. She noted that many considered education and particularly, the education of English, to be the key to overthrowing apartheid as it would allow international communication, which would, in turn, allow the world to know of the atrocities being committed under the Apartheid government.

My teacher had been invited to visit a student’s home for a meal after a day of instruction. During the meal, the police burst into the home to break up what may have been perceived as a “political meeting” and a scuffle ensued. The black residents of the home were arrested for hosting a treasonous anti-apartheid meeting while she was released after a ‘roughing up'. In an effort to quell her students concerns, she noted that, “At least I got to have dinner before the invasion and, man, it was delicious!”

Many students in our classroom validated how much they enjoyed meals prepared by their domestic workers. The teacher explained, “Yes, me too, but having a meal prepared in my friends' own home was better than anything I ever ate as a child in my back yard with my nannies!” This is a prime example of cross-cultural food helped to create empathy and understanding in an otherwise divisive world.

Today, South Africa finds itself the proud home of cross cultural food that represents its broad, and often unfortunate history. “South Africa is home to a rich variety of cuisines, from the indigenous dishes still made at home by people of tribal descent, to the fusion foods that resulted from the arrivals not just of Europeans but also of Muslim slaves from the Far East whose descendants came to be collectively known as Cape Malay.” (Greenblatt) Finally, after decades of foods being used to oppress and being associated to only one race or culture, South Africa finds itself in a position where a number of races, cultures, and religions have contributed to a recipe book of cross-culture food that creates a magnificent melting pot, or salad bowl, or smorgasbord, or, or... whatever South Africans would like to call a country that is finally integrated, free and offers ‘One man, one vote”.

Cross cultural foods have not only contributed to overthrowing apartheid, but they also continue to assist in the melding of cultures as South Africa develops and grows as a burgeoning democracy.

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Nov 17th, 8:15 AM Nov 17th, 8:30 AM

How Cross Culture Food Helped Overthrow Apartheid in South Africa

C151

Abstract

How Cross-Cultural Food Helped Overthrow Apartheid in South Africa.

Nutritionists say that in order to be considered healthy, one must balance the intake of proteins, carbohydrates and, the all important vegetables and fruits according to the widely accepted food pyramid. In certain demographics, social and financial circumstances dictate that one might not have access to all manner of appropriate nutrition. Racially segregated Apartheid South Africa in the seventies and eighties is a prime example of how certain foods were inaccessible to poor black, Indian, Asian, and other non-white citizens. In her book, “Starving on a Full Stomach: Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa.”, author Diana Wylie, discusses how Apartheid South Africa used lack of nutritious food to ensure the oppression of non-white citizens, particularly the black majority. Inexpensive, non-nutritious but plentiful foods, such as maize meal, were used to feed poor non-whites. I will argue that this oppression led to the innovation of now popular recipes, a greater understanding of nutrition, and a wonderful sharing of cross-cultural foods that aided in the overthrow of Apartheid South Africa. At a time when political conversations about racial equality and voting rights for all were banned and considered treasonous, South Africans found a way to share cultural food that ultimately led to a subversive conversation of how shared hunger and food appreciation can, and did, lead to an initial version of equality. Sharing of food culture and being willing to explore alternative food culture, made it possible for racially diverse people to find a manner of acceptance of one another. Originally intended to deprive, cross cultural food became one of the corner stones of ensuring racially diverse South Africans found a common ground on which to stand in order to fight Apartheid. Given the importance of food, and the lack of food, during this tumultuous time in South Africa, much has been written about the value of food and the motivation that hunger provided in ensuring the progressive nature of the anti-Apartheid movement. This author relied heavily on writing from authors who have first hand knowledge and experience in dealing with food and the important participants in this discourse. Very emotional, in-person interviews were also conducted with various participants who understood, and used food, in the struggle to overthrow Apartheid.