Memory Chirere Correspondent
In Africa, one’s mother or grandmother is one’s historian and librarian. These are very powerful people, but if you do not look carefully, you may not see it. Most of the folktales that we remember today were handed down to us by our grandmothers. They remember and recreate them for us. They are everything; authors, singers, seers and dramatists.
Most of our family history is usually passed down to us by our mothers. A woman keeps the history of her people and that of the family that she marries into.
I am saying this because of “Kubika Machikichori” (2007), a recipe book by the seemingly ordinary women writers of Goromonzi. These women remembered to document what we eat and how to prepare it.
“Kubika Machikichori” Shona for preparing delicious meals, carries traditional recipes by women from around Goromonzi area, about 50 kilometres east of Harare, Zimbabwe.
The book was compiled by founding member of Zimbabwe Women Writers (ZWW), novelist Collette Mutangadura and edited by Keresia Chateuka.
Here you find simple recipes that are easy to follow. You are reminded of so many things that you throw away when you should be eating them.
One of Esnath Mutembedza’s recipes is about how to make nhopi yemanhanga (pumpkin mash). We take nhopi for granted, but we may not be able to prepare it because the grandmother who used to do it for us is long gone!
The ingredients: a pumpkin, peanut butter, mealie-meal and water. Method: “Wash the pumpkin. Cut it into slices. Peel off the outer pumpkin skin with a knife. Scrap off all the pumpkin seeds with a knife. Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces. Place them in a pot and heat gradually. Add a little water. Boil on the fire until the pumpkin turns to pulp. Make sure the pulp doesn’t burn by stirring it constantly. Add some water and a cup of mealie-meal. Stir and beat them together with a cooking stick. Add peanut butter and continue to beat them together. Add some water and mix to preferred thickness. Serve and enjoy with your family.”
One of Colette Mutangadura’s recipes is about preparing dondori remazhanje, a side dish from the mazhanje fruit. We see mazhanje every summer, but there is much more we could do with them.
The ingredients: “Two dishes of mazhanje fruit, a cupful of mealie-meal, two tablespoons of honey.” Method: “Clean the fruit (mazhanje). Crush them and take away the seed from the pulp. Gradually mix the pulp with the honey so that it doesn’t become thick. Add water and boil into a thin porridge. Leave it to settle and cool for five minutes before serving. This can be taken as a dessert.”
Plaxedes Kaseke writes amazingly about how to make coffee out of ground okra seed. Sarudzai Ndamba writes about how to make porridge with flour from the baobab fruit.
She also demonstrates how to make tough bread called chikodzamvana. Angeline Marange writes about how to make jam from guava fruit.
Through the 60 recipes written in Shona, these women have helped preserve our oral heritage. The fig fruit could be dried in honey and come in as dessert. Or, do you still remember the wonderful buns baked between the wide leaves of the mutukutu plant?
Most of us no longer know how to extract oil from nuts or pumpkin seed. We do not know how to prepare the offals and head of a goat for the pot. We no longer know how to apply peanut butter munyevhe. We walk away with raised heads, proud of our ignorance! This book is a call to return to the source.
The compiler, Collette Choto Mutangadura, was born on March 19 1945 in Hwedza and has a lot of work accredited to her name.
She is the author of two novels, “Rinonyenga Rinohwarara” (1983) and “Rutendo: The Chief’s Granddaughter” (2009). The editor, Keresia Chateuka, is a veteran of the book industry, who understands writing, proofreading, translation, editing and sales. She is a long-time field officer within ZWW itself.