S Africa’s Soweto town­ship cel­e­brates iconic street snack

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

Soweto, South Africa - South Africa’s kota is a tasty, in­ex­pen­sive and uniquely home­grown street sand­wich cre­ated out of the bit­ter­ness of apartheid and which still has a spe­cial place in the hearts of many.

Its name is pid­gin for quar­ter - this case, a quar­ter of a loaf of bread, which forms the base of the sand­wich that can be found along most streets in Jo­han­nes­burg’s town­ship of Soweto. The quar­ter loaf is hol­lowed out and then filled with lay­ers of all sorts - potato fries, fried egg, Frank­furter and spicy pick­les.

Un­der the warm spring sun, hun­dreds of peo­ple thronged a Soweto town­ship square to pay homage to the cel­e­brated snack. “We are here to cel­e­brate town­ship food,” said fes­ti­val or­gan­iser Sid­well Tshingi­lane, stand­ing by dozens of stalls where chefs stood be­hind piles of fill­ings as pa­tient cus­tomers queued up for the snack. “Kota is born in the town­ship. We grew up eat­ing kota. It’s one of the street foods that is pop­u­lar like a burger in Amer­ica. We nor­mally call it our lo­cal burger,” Tshingi­lane said.

“Some peo­ple say it’s pop­u­lar like the brand Madiba,” he said, re­fer­ring to the coun­try’s much-loved anti-apartheid icon Nel­son Man­dela. “It’s af­ford­able, peo­ple in town­ships some­times don’t af­ford those fancy foods. So in­stead of go­ing to McDon­ald’s, they go to a kota out­let.”

The two-day kota fes­ti­val was held in the same Soweto square where the Free­dom Char­ter - a doc­u­ment de­mand­ing equal rights to ed­u­ca­tion, work, wealth and a de­cent liv­ing - was adopted by anti-apartheid groups in 1955.

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