Enjoy your bunny chow -just like yours truly, then get ready for inaugural Soweto Kota fest

Kotalicious. Sasko Soweto Kota Festival organizer Sidwell Tshingilane, displays a Beef Ragouh Kota at the Builder’s Box pending the media launch at the Soweto Theatre. Image JACOB MAWELA

The brainchild of Rockville resident and master organiser Sidwell Tshingilane, whose resume boasts already having hosted two editions of cake expositions – the concept will witness the event hitting the ground running on the groundswell of clamour for the showcasing of a lifestyle item which among black urban dwellers vies for popularity with young women donning white All Star ‘takkies’, news about AKA, smartphones and their social media gossip mongering capabilities, etc.

That, in addition to the endorsement of officialdom such as the Joburg MMC for Community Development and a host of other familiar brand sponsors who, as if Tshingilane had cast a spell upon, didn’t hesitate in lending their clout to what is in fact, the very first edition of a hopefully enduring venture!

Addressing a media contingent on the upper floor of the Soweto Theatre, Minanawe marketing’s Nancy Austin [whose entity represents Parmalat] had only but praises for the organiser by stating that it was high time blacks gave Tshingilane a big round of applause for conjuring the initiative.

Pointing out that her client brand cheese slices happen to be SA’s No. 1 selling cheese slice, she further claimed that a database they keep tabs on shows a picture of an estimated 50 000 outlets countrywide selling traditional fast foods, opt for single cheese slices.

Parmalat Cheese Slices are punted as tasty, creamy and have just the right amount of ‘melt’ when they hit the hot chips… shades of mouth-watering stuff through verbal evoking!

The South African Kota industry is said to weigh in at R10 billion a year – thus affirming its position as the champion of township takeaways. In the particular informal market, Parmalat proactively assists Kasi Kos outlets which sell kotas through its Parmalat Phuma Phambili Programme whilst supporting the local community and their Phuma Phambili Business Partners in Soweto.

The programme acts as a business enabler geared towards giving outlets and Spazarettes a competitive advantage to successfully grow their businesses.

Name dropping the DStv’s Somizi Mhlongo as a potential visitor and whilst mentioning Jozi FM as offering free publicity to the show, Austin assured the organiser of 10 years of support from Parmalat, as one of the headline sponsors, declaring:  “Let’s have a good future for Sidwell!”

But what would ‘sphatlo’, ‘skhambane’ or ‘township burger’ be sans its base component, namely, bread? As reflected in the name of the event, the bakery which have been baking together with South African citizens since 1930 and spotting the payoff line ‘share the goodness’ – won’t only be the main sponsor but will on the weekend of the festival provide participating vendors, 30 plus of them, with free bread – whilst continuing with the running of a corporate social initiative known as Siyasizana Daycare Project in which kids are encouraged to  collect used plastic bags, in exchange for incentives such as fridges and other utensils for their institutions.

The response to the concept has even caught Tshingilane by surprise, given that it will be its first outing and he attributes this in no small part, to the urging of Sasko’s national brand manager Lungi Manyama, whom he got to know on a Facebook page with well over 70 000 black small business owners, called Brownsense.

Manyama was so taken with the festival concept that she hitherto insisted on her brand being part of the show – with Sasko being the exclusive bread suppliers. Tshingilane mused that not long after that did Parmalat also elbow its way to his door by claiming the cheese supply domain – to the exclusion of competitors such as Clover, they were adamant!

Soft-spoken and friendly of demeanour, Tshingilane is clearly a negotiator who focuses his energies on the figures who matter, as he explained how, even just about a fortnight till the event’s kick-off, he was still engaging with the likes of processed meats producers, Eskort, to supply the show with proteins such as French polony and Russian sausages, etc.

Arm twister that he is, he pointed out that a sauces supplier such as Wellington’s was all set and ready to go!

To attest to Tshingilane’s business acumen, a Westbury fast-food operator named Carol Dooms said that she invited herself to be one of the vendors with stalls on the weekend – upon learning about the event on social media.

At the launch, Dooms spoke about her offerings putting emphasis on the health aspect of the ‘kota’ through her usage of ingredients such as pilchards high in omega-3 oils – as opposed to the recycled greasy oils wafting out of other vendors’ kitchens, going down at giving the foodstuff a less than amiable reputation in certain quarters of a health-conscious society.

She impressed some of the journos by showing images of some of her gourmet creations, which included fillet chicken toasted in a griller and rounded off with some garnish for a crisp presentation – from her smartphone.

Dooms won’t be the only vendor from outside Soweto who will be cooking for visitors, as the festival has also attracted the interests of Ekurhuleni foodies and others from as far afield as Mpumalanga!

The festival won’t however, only focus on the ‘kasi kos’ as, whilst participating vendors will be demonstrating their culinary abilities for the sake of curious palates and vying for ‘best kota of the day’ prizes such as branded tables & chairs, aprons, lunchboxes and weekend getaways – the event promises to be privy enough with current trends by spicing up its outlook with a VIP Experience area, a beer garden which Heineken has climbed on board to seeing to and a Parmalat kids area stocked with the usual jumping castles and face-painting kiosks for the mites who’ll be accompanying adults for what promises to be a fun weekend out in the spring sunshine.

A host of young selected DJs, some of whom were introduced at the presser, will ensure that the event will assume a fest ambience about it – by punctuating the rivalry with sonic delights throughout the two days!

As a foretaste of things to come, the invited media were then invited to the Ekasi Flava restaurant at the adjacent Builders Box where co-owner and executive chef Percy Mtshali, whose establishment will run a stall at the upcoming shindig, served hot and hearty helpings of Beef Ragouh kotas – which consisted of Prego bread filled with beef ragouh [a type of sausage stew], creamy mash and creamy spinach on top!

Sitting on the upper deck of the shipping container structure, the gathered hacks savoured the fare whilst taking in the sights of surrounds which incorporated the under-construction, Jabulani Amphitheatre.

Trending by the hashtag, #sowetokotafest17, the event will be about food, drinks, music, play, old-and-new fashion rendezvous, kasi-style rocking and fun in the sun where, courtesy of Parmalat, visitors will be able to enter an exciting completion putting them in line to win fantastic daily prizes.

General entry tickets retailing for R50 [adults] and R20 [children], can be obtained at Joburg Theatres and Pick n Pay stores.

The VIP Experience tickets retail for R250 which entitles visitors to gourmet kotas, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages such as beers and spirits.


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