Zimbabwe: Mashonaland Hosts First Lady Cookout Competition.

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One unique characteristic of Africans is that their love for art extends even to their food. With different cultures come different kinds of meals, and most Africans showcase their creativity through their meals.  Every traditional African meal is usually tasty, colorful, and rich in nutrients, and Africans these days are working towards showcasing this proudly to the whole world. 

The first lady of Zimbabwe launched her traditional meal cookout competition in 2020 to promote the uptake of indigenous dishes and ensure citizens benefit from their nutritional values and medicinal properties. The competition is first held in the province then the winner and the runner-up go ahead to represent the province in the national competition. After the successful 2021 cookout, she handed this program over to the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry.

On Tuesday, 2nd of May 2023, the provincial cookout competition was held at Kotwa High in Mudzi district. It was food galore as women from Mashonaland showcased their cooking skills. This competition drew participants from the province’s nine districts.

This successful program has attracted local people in large numbers and also attracted those in the Southern African Development Community.

“I am really grateful today, Mashonaland East, you have indeed demonstrated that you are moving on with the Traditional Cookout program to another level. The traditional Cookout concept seeks to restore the traditional and cultural values of the nation using readily available resources.

“I continue to urge the people of Zimbabwe to embrace the traditional diet as a way of boosting the immune system and maintaining a healthy lifestyle as they are food and herbal. The medicinal effects of such foods help to keep our bodies healthy and less vulnerable to different diseases.

Minister Ndlovu added that traditional cuisine is now becoming common in many countries and is being used as a tool to attract tourists particularly those who are health-conscious and cognisant of the value embedded in traditional foods. “To this end, Amai tasked the Ministry responsible for Tourism to work together with Provinces to promote gastronomy tourism, attracting both the domestic and international markets. Let me bring to your attention that the previous editions of Traditional Cookout competitions in the provinces created a platform for knowledge and skills sharing on how to prepare traditional meals.

“In addition, a Traditional Cookout Recipe Book was compiled with traditional recipes from all the ten provinces and it was launched by Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa in August 2022. This was undertaken to ensure sustainability, as well as ensure that we preserve the recipes for future generations. 2023 is the year we are rolling out the Third Edition of the Traditional Cookout Competitions to the people of Zimbabwe moving with the same objective, to ensure a healthy living as we journey towards the attainment of an upper middle-income society by 2030.” He commended the province for taking a step further to value-add its traditional products.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East Province, Dr Aplonia Munzverengwi during the competitions, Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu called for everyone to continue embracing traditional dietary.

Ms Emmah Chikamhi from Goromonzi emerged as the winner of the provincial competition and will go ahead to represent the province in the national competition and she is confident of getting the winning title. She said, “I’m confident of winning in Chinhoyi and l want to thank Amai for affording us this platform.” “I cannot believe that I won today. I cooked my traditional meals with all my heart and I put my mind to it. Winning in this competition has motivated me to even work hard since I will be representing my province at the national level. “I will work hard and win again at the national level. Thank you Amai Mnangagwa for this wonderful and educative program which is empowering women across the country. We are grateful for your wisdom and support. she said.
Mrs Mutekedza, who is the wife to Chief Mutekedza from Chikomba district said the programme has taught them a lot and is benefiting many households. This program is important, especially for us women. We are now empowered. As for me, I now bake cakes using traditional and indigenous ingredients and they are delicious. These cakes are loved by many to the extent that people make orders and I get money from that. I want to call upon other women out there to come and join this program, they will not regret it,” she said.

The other participants including runner-up and Chief Mutoko’s wife thanked the First Lady, Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa for coming up with the initiative. “Our traditional foods were under threat from extinction but they have now been revived by this competition,” states a contestant. Another contestant Ms Tichafara Ngoma from Marondera district, who is also a youth as well as a Hospitality Management student said she is learning a lot about traditional foods through Amai Manganwa’s cook-out program. “I am so happy. Amai Mnangagwa’s program is educative and beneficial, especially to our youths. It is important for us to know about our traditional foods. I have always wanted to cook these foods so joining this program is a plus for me. “Through this program, l am now aware of healthy food to eat and this is all because of Amai Mnangagwa. I want to thank her for this and I am encouraging other young women to embrace this program, she said

Mashonaland East province was commended for embracing the program and using locally available resources. “Since the start of the program, Mashonaland East has been a prominent feature at the national finals, which shows the seriousness the province attaches to the event,” noted Mashonaland East Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Senator Aplonia Munzverengwi. 

There are preparations ongoing for the upcoming regional competition that will be held in Masvingo Province. Several countries in SADC have been invited to showcase their traditional cuisines. 

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