Food Quote: Nelson Mandela on Food

Published by Wednesday, June 12, 2013 Permalink 0
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by Jonell Galloway

Nelson Mandela on Food

I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free. Free in every way that I could know. Free to run in the fields near my mother’s hut, free to swim in the clear stream that ran through my village, free to roast mealies [corn] under the stars … It was only when I learnt that my boyhood freedom was an illusion … that I began to hunger for it.–Nelson Mandela

Photo courtesy of The Guardian

has provided “the backdrop and occasionally the primary cause for momentous personal and political events in the life of Nelson Mandela.” In his autobiography, he took an innovative approach to history and showed that a great man’s life can be measured out in mouthfuls, both bitter and sweet. With this title, the reader can cook and taste Nelson Mandela’s journey from the corn grinding stone of his boyhood through wedding cakes and curries to prison hunger strikes, presidential banquets and ultimately into a dotage marked by the sweetest of just desserts. Tales told in sandwiches, sugar and samoosas speak eloquently of intellectual awakenings, emotional longings and always the struggle for racial equality. He was always motivated by hunger, either longing for food he couldn’t have, or depriving himself of food in the name of freedom.

“Only the truly food obsessed would read such a statement and consider the stomach from whence it came, but I did and the result is a gastro-political biography entitled Hunger for Freedom, the story of food in the life of Nelson Mandela,” he told Ana Trapedo of The Guardian.

When in prison, he wrote to former wife Winnie: “How I long for amasi (traditional South African fermented milk), thick and sour! You know darling there is one respect in which I dwarf all my contemporaries or at least about which I can confidently claim to be second to none – healthy appetite,” he told Trapedo.


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