News / Africa

South Africans Meet on Heritage Day to … Eat Meat

Rugby fans pour some beer on their braai meat , Soweto, South Africa, May 29, 2010 file photo.
Rugby fans pour some beer on their braai meat , Soweto, South Africa, May 29, 2010 file photo.
Anita Powell
Every September 24, South Africans observe Heritage Day, a celebration the country's diverse cultures and beliefs.
 
But some people want the day to focus on the one thing all South Africans seem to have in common: a passion for cooking meat on the grill, known as braai, the Afrikaans word for grill or barbecue.
 
But for many South Africans, Braai means much, much more than that. In a nation where babies are given dried meat for teething; where parliament has twice debated the merits of eating horse; and where saying you don’t like beloved boerewors sausages is grounds for a fight, to say that South Africans like meat is an understatement.
 
"We have, what, 11 official languages? But only one word for this wonderful institution: braai," said Archbishop Desmond Tutu upon the launching the renaming initiative in 2007. "It’s braai in Xhosa, it’s braai in Afrikaans, it’s braai in English, it’s braai in whatever. And it has fantastic potential to bind us together.”
 
Braai Day initiative leader, Jan Braai (his real name is Jan Scannel), says there is one essential element to a great braai, and surprisingly it isn’t meat.
 
“This is about much more than cooking meat on a fire," he said. "In fact, whether you actually cook meat on a fire is utterly unimportant. You can cook vegetables on that fire, or fish, or just stand around the fire. This is about uniting a nation, a nation so divided by its past, but a nation that has everything going for it to be a fantastic place, and we are a fantastic place."
 
Judging by statistics — and by Johannesburg’s ravaged supermarkets — many South Africans are going with meat for their braai.
 
According to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization, the average South African ate 58.6 kilograms of meat — equivalent to two small lambs — in 2009, the last year for which they prepared figures. Although Americans still beat South Africans at the meat-eating stakes, devouring nearly twice as much, South Africa’s consumption is steadily rising.
 
For Dimitri Gutjahr, owner of a popular vegetarian restaurant in Johannesburg, the Braai Day initiative is an awful idea. Being South African and vegan — he claims it's not a contradiction — he can't reconcile the prospect of a national celebration built upon an unusually large slaughter of animals.
 
“Sometimes [people] don’t see the true meaning behind things, we take everything for granted," Gutjahr said. "We’re born having braais all the time, but the truth behind that is that we’d be celebrating a day, and because of that day a whole lot of extra animals would have to be butchered and slaughtered ... I don’t think that’s really cool.”
 
But still he couldn’t resist sticking his nose over the braai.
 
“You know, a good idea for a braai is to do a papillote in tinfoil, where you make a fire on a grill and then in tin foil you can put vegetables, nuts, grains," he said. "You pretty much steam it — anything you could steam, and you could still make something on a braai that’s fun. Half the fun about a braai is that you’re around a fire …  and you’re with the elements, you’re outdoors with your friends, talking, chatting, building a fire together and cooking together.”
 
So whatever is on your grill this Heritage Day — and regardless of your ethnicity, background and language — fire it up and enjoy, South Africa.

You May Like

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs