FIRST Lady Dr Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa has been commended for spearheading the Traditional Cook-out programme across the country, as it preserves Zimbabwean tradition and culture, and also promotes a healthy living and national identity.
Recently, women drawn from Mashonaland East Province’s nine districts competed for the best cook in local traditional food, an event held in Marondera.
Various women showcased their cooked food, prepared from traditional ingredients, and two winners Mrs Angela Moloi and Mrs Nyajina will represent the province in Victoria Falls for the national competitions to be held soon.
Mrs Moloi scooped the first position while Mrs Nyajina was second.
In her remarks, Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Mashonaland East Province Dr Aplonia Munzverengwi applauded the programme saying it reminds and encourages Zimbabweans to consume traditional foods and also preserve their culture.
“This initiative has also seen participants becoming innovative in developing attractive recipes that can be documented and used by the hospitality industry. It is through your hard work Dr Amai Mnangagwa in promoting traditional foods that we as Zimbabweans had forgotten.
“Our young ones are now aware of our traditional food not only from our homes but even food outlets are now serving traditional food as they have realised increased demand.”
In his remarks, Chief Nyajina commended the First Lady and said the programme is educative and teaches every Zimbabwean to embrace their identity.
“We have our tradition and culture and we must always follow that. Amai’s programme is guiding and educating us to stick to our culture and tradition, and we are thankful to that. We must never follow other people’s cultures, we have our own and Amai is clear that we must stick to our own.
“As traditional leaders, we commend her programme, it is good for our people, and we should always observe and adhere to our culture. Amai, we thank you as traditional leaders.”
In an interview with The Herald on the sidelines of the colourful event, Mrs Moloi from Goromonzi expressed her gratitude to Amai Mnangagwa for the programme.
“I want to thank the First Lady for this programme. This is educative and it brings us, women, together and shares ideas on how to prepare food using our traditional ingredients. I am happy because of this programme.
“I cooked traditional food and I made it in a way that makes it appetizing to our children. Our children are not used to our traditional food and it is our duty to make sure they like it through the way we prepare it.”
Mrs Nyajina, the wife of Chief Nyajina who scooped the second position commended Amai Mnangagwa for the programme and encouraged other women to participate in the programme.
“I am so glad that I have won the second position in these competitions. I had some food that I prepared which I showcased in these competitions and I am happy that my work has been recognized.
“I want to encourage all women to participate in these competitions organised by our mother, the First Lady of Zimbabwe Amai Mnangagwa. Let us continue to support this programme. To the First Lady Amai Mnangagwa, thank you for this programme, we are happy.”
In Masvingo, the First Lady’s Cook-out Competition yesterday highlighted the potential that Zimbabwe has as it seeks to revive the tourism sector battered by two years of Covid-19 induced travel restrictions.
The country can now take advantage of the Cook-out Competition to anchor tourism recovery and further growth the tourism sector by fully exploiting culinary tourism, given Zimbabwe’s vast traditional dishes that have very high nutritional value.
The Cook-Out Competition brought Masvingo to a standstill as the important role that women can play to underpin the country socio-economic growth in line with Vision 2030, was on display as female contestants from all corners of the province slugged it out.
Dr Mnangagwa’s Cook-out Competition drew 20 participants from all the seven administrative districts of the province including two chiefs’ wives.
The contestants displayed traditional dishes such as sadza rezviyo neremhunga, rupiza, nhopi, roadrunner, muboora une dovi, manhanga, and wild fruits such as mhunguru, tsubvu and shomwe.
There was also traditional brews like mahewu for dessert while there was also mutumbi for imbibers.
As a testament to the country’s rich cultural heritage, one of the contestants showcased salt made from soil which she used in preparing all her dishes, giving impetus to calls by the First Lady for Zimbabwe to exploit its potentially lucrative culinary tourism.
Deputy Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Babra Rwodzi, represented the First Lady at the Cook-out Competition.
She first toured all the stands of the 20 contestants who were battling for the two positions to represent Masvingo Province at the national finals set for Victoria Falls on May 25.
In her speech delivered by Deputy Minister Rwodzi during the 6th leg of the provincial competition, Dr Mnangagwa challenged Zimbabweans to fully explore and exploit culinary tourism to reap more socio-economic benefits.
The First Lady said traditional dishes were also highly nutritious and promote good health.
“Each and every area or region in this country has its own unique dishes and even wild fruits that are found there and my challenge to you is to embrace culinary tourism by opening restaurants and kitchens at designated points that are strategic so that tourists who come here in Masvingo from other countries or from other provinces, can also have a taste of these dishes that they will identify your place with,” said Dr Mnangagwa.
“This will make them return again in future because they will identify your place with certain dishes, this is what we call culinary tourism.
“Here in Masvingo we have tourist attraction sites like Lake Mutirikwi, Tugwi-Mukosi, among other places visitors who go there should also have an opportunity to taste unique dishes of communities in those areas and this is how culinary tourism grows.”
The First Lady said besides being highly nutritious traditional dishes, fruits and medicines were potential game changers economically for rural communities who could earn income by selling them to tourists.
“We even have traditional medicine which forebears used to treat pestilences like cancer, among other diseases. I want to urge our people to go back to such medicines because unlike modern medicine, traditional medicine rarely has side effects and is also very effective.”
Dr Mnangagwa said women could play a leading role in the socio-economic growth of the country and help in the speedy achievement of an upper middle income economy which is being targeted for 2030.
She said helping women reach their full potential through empowering them was close to her heart.
“We have seen today the important role women can play to help develop our country and promoting healthy families and a healthy nation, thanks to the various traditional dishes and fruits, among other foodstuffs that they are showcasing here today (yesterday),” she added.
The First Lady highlighted the role women can play to contribute to overall growth of provincial gross domestic product that feed into aggregate national GDP.
She said Zimbabweans should abandon their traditional values and culture as they were helpful in moulding morally upright and respectful young people, thereby ridding nation of vices such as unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and drug abuse, among other ills.
The advent of globalisation, said the First Lady, did not mean that people should abandon their cultural values that helped shape stable societies and give identity to a people.
Dr Mnangagwa challenged elders to impart the country’s rich cultural values and traditions to the young generation.
However, she also called upon youths to listen and respect their elders.
Speaking at the same event, Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Ezra Chadzamira, paid tribute to the First Lady saying her move to promote culinary tourism was a boon for socio-economic transformation in rural communities as people could make money from showcasing their cultural heritage.
He described the First Lady as an agent of development saying Masvingo had immensely benefited from programmes and projects rolled out by Dr Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation.
The First Lady donated grocery hampers to all the 20 contestants at the Cookout Competition, among them were wives of Chief Ndanga of Zaka and Nemauzhe of Chivi.
Mrs December Gubhuza of Chiredzi, who used salt made from soil to prepare all her dishes, came out tops and will represent Masvingo at the national finals together with Mrs Patricia Makona, who is Chief Ndanga’s spouse who came out second.
The two won bigger prizes in the form of grocery hampers.