Dorah Sitole(Instagram)
Dorah Sitole(Instagram)

South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole dies of virus

South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-traveled author.
AP
UPDATED ON JAN 19, 2021 02:40 PM IST

South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-traveled author.

The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food.

Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65.

In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike.

Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work.

In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority.

The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience.

With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence.

When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She traveled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.”

In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief.

Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today.

“Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks.

“She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavors that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa.

She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world.

Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine.

“Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana.

“What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana.

“She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.”

Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture.

In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent.

“I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience."

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Flower power: A flower market in Bengaluru. (Shutterstock)
Flower power: A flower market in Bengaluru. (Shutterstock)

Review: Flower Shower by Alka Pande

By Subhashini Chandramani
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 05:34 PM IST
Aesthetically designed and with an engaging narrative, each chapter of the book begins with a carefully chosen quote and every page is steeped in fascinating information. The rose, the lotus, the champa and the marigold are only some of the flowers that feature in this beautiful volume
Close
Usually, successful entrepreneurs share their life journeys through autobiographies, but Irfan Izhar has chosen poetry for this purpose. (Representational Image) (Unsplash)
Usually, successful entrepreneurs share their life journeys through autobiographies, but Irfan Izhar has chosen poetry for this purpose. (Representational Image) (Unsplash)

Dubai filmmaker Irfan Izhar unveils maiden book in Delhi

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:27 PM IST
Irfan Izhar, packaging industry baron made a resounding debut as an author with the launch of 'Samundar Samne Hai', a compilation of his reverberating Urdu poems.
Close
The story follows a novice Secretary of State who has joined the administration of her rival, a president inaugurated after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage.(Wikimedia Commons )
The story follows a novice Secretary of State who has joined the administration of her rival, a president inaugurated after four years of American leadership that shrank from the world stage.(Wikimedia Commons )

Hillary to co-write thriller on 'State of Terror'

PTI, New York
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 08:00 PM IST
Former US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and her long-time friend Louise Penny will come out with a novel "State of Terror" which will be published on October 12 by Pan Macmillan India.
Close
Author Anuja Chauhan says she has attempted a whodunnit in her new book, Club You To Death, which is a mystery based in Delhi.
Author Anuja Chauhan says she has attempted a whodunnit in her new book, Club You To Death, which is a mystery based in Delhi.

Book is full of Bangalorean characters, hopefully no one comes to know: Anuja Chauhan

By Henna Rakheja, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:31 PM IST
Author Anuja Chauhan reminisces the time when she decided to settle in Bengaluru, and feels elated to have made the Garden City her home.
Close
The book, titled "India: A Scamster Born Every Minute", will be released under Penguin's Viking imprint in 2022, the publishing house said in a statement.(penguin.co.in)
The book, titled "India: A Scamster Born Every Minute", will be released under Penguin's Viking imprint in 2022, the publishing house said in a statement.(penguin.co.in)

Upcoming book by Snigdha Poonam to expose subculture of scams in India

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 05:16 PM IST
Penguin Random House India on Wednesday announced the acquisition of a new book by award-winning journalist and author Snigdha Poonam that gives an insight into the subculture of scams, cons and frauds in the country.
Close
The first wonder written in the genre, this book brings together various YouTubers and their journeys on paper. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)
The first wonder written in the genre, this book brings together various YouTubers and their journeys on paper. (Representational Image) (Pixabay)

Ajitabha Bose pens journey of YouTubers in his book 'The Youtube Stars of India'

ANI, New Delhi [india]
PUBLISHED ON FEB 23, 2021 07:50 PM IST
The book holds soul-inspiring journeys of the most influential YouTubers penned by India's most popular pocketbook writer Ajitabha Bose which features Youtubers like CarryMinati, Ashish Chanchlani, Amit Bhadana, Harsh Beniwal, Prajakta Koli, Mortal and many more.
Close
"India's rich tapestry is woven together by her stories. These tales can be from the great epics and mythology, or from the ancient history of this rich land.(Unsplash)
"India's rich tapestry is woven together by her stories. These tales can be from the great epics and mythology, or from the ancient history of this rich land.(Unsplash)

HarperCollins, Amar Chitra Katha announce joint venture

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 23, 2021 07:01 PM IST
Amar Chitra Katha has joined hands with HarperCollins India to bring the iconic folktales of India from its comic books in a new format for younger readers.
Close
Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero Waste Life(Instagram)
Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero Waste Life(Instagram)

Bare Necessities: Book shows how to lead sustainable lifestyle in India

PTI, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:46 PM IST
A "one-stop guide" on how to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle in India, "Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero Waste Life", published by Penguin, is written by environmentalist Sahar Mansoor and sustainability consultant Tim De Ridder.
Close
"When I went looking for masterminds of science in India, I found so many that I was overwhelmed... We decided upon the inventions and discoveries that twisted our toes and made us agog with wonder.(Amazon)
"When I went looking for masterminds of science in India, I found so many that I was overwhelmed... We decided upon the inventions and discoveries that twisted our toes and made us agog with wonder.(Amazon)

Book introduces children to rare discoveries of Indian scientists

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 04:11 PM IST
An upcoming book will educate children about the daring discoveries and ingenious inventions of India's brightest scientists.
Close
The launch of the book comes after a Webinar that featured an array of experts from skill space as well as from Textile-Apparel and other allied Industries who had explored the 'Future of Jobs & Skills'.(ANI )
The launch of the book comes after a Webinar that featured an array of experts from skill space as well as from Textile-Apparel and other allied Industries who had explored the 'Future of Jobs & Skills'.(ANI )

Noted educationist Dr Darlie Koshy's new book unveiled at the India Craft Week

ANI, New Delhi [india]
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 09:54 AM IST
Noted educationist and leader of skilling India, Dr Darlie O Koshy's new book titled 'Runway to Skilled India' was unveiled at the India Craft Week being held at Bikaner House, New Delhi.
Close
'The Running Man,' published in 1982, was a dystopian horror novel, originally written under King's pseudonym Richard Bachman.(Amazon )
'The Running Man,' published in 1982, was a dystopian horror novel, originally written under King's pseudonym Richard Bachman.(Amazon )

Edgar Wright to helm adaptation of Stephen King's 'The Running Man'

ANI, Washington [us]
PUBLISHED ON FEB 20, 2021 07:12 PM IST
Ace film director Edgar Wright is set to helm an adaptation of American author Stephen King's popular novel titled 'The Running Man' for Paramount Pictures.
Close
"A Married Woman" revolves around Astha, an educated middle-class married woman whose carefully curated world starts to unravel when she meets another woman, a widow, and the gentle romance that follows.(Amazon)
"A Married Woman" revolves around Astha, an educated middle-class married woman whose carefully curated world starts to unravel when she meets another woman, a widow, and the gentle romance that follows.(Amazon)

My books should reflect what I see in society: Manju Kapur 

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 20, 2021 05:35 PM IST
Describing herself as a "mirror of society" kind of writer, author Manju Kapoor is hoping the series adaptation of her novel "A Married Woman" will reflect the distress of her protagonists as well as the turmoil of the world outside.
Close
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the author of The Palace of Illusions and The Forest of Enchantments (Photo: Facebook)
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the author of The Palace of Illusions and The Forest of Enchantments (Photo: Facebook)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: Why should we have to whitewash our heroines

By Navneet Vyasan
UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2021 09:40 PM IST
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s latest work, The Last Queen, tells the tale of one of the most fearless women of the nineteenth century — Rani Jindan Kaur
Close
The minister said it is a matter of pride that all proud moments in the history of CRPF in the last 82 years have been recorded in the book.(HT )
The minister said it is a matter of pride that all proud moments in the history of CRPF in the last 82 years have been recorded in the book.(HT )

Amit Shah releases book chronicling CRPF's history

ANI, New Delhi [india]
PUBLISHED ON FEB 20, 2021 12:14 PM IST
Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday released a book chronicling the history of CRPF since its raising in 1939 and said it will become a source of inspiration for personnel joining the force.
Close
Jaipur Literature Festival used to be held at Diggi Palace, Jaipur until last year.
Jaipur Literature Festival used to be held at Diggi Palace, Jaipur until last year.

Jaipur Literature Festival 2021: Lit minds, on a virtual path

By Henna Rakheja, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 20, 2021 02:25 AM IST
Over 300 speakers and performers representing about 25 Indian and 18 international languages from more than 23 nationalities are part of the 14th edition of JLF.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP