Africa 3.0: Making good food in a tough town

He was here on a whim, chasing the vague sense of opportunity that followed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended the 22-year Second Sudanese Civil War. Osman was born, bred and educated in Khartoum. At his Catholic school, many of his classmates were from the south. The reunion with them was joyous, and on July 9 last year, he was in the streets with a champagne bottle in each hand, celebrating South Sudan’s independence as if it were his own. “The north did nothing for the south, and the south did nothing for the north. So [separation] was a good thing,” he tells us.

Although trained in computer science, food was always Osman’s passion. Soon after the New Sudan Palace Hotel went up in an orgy of concrete, he set up Le Bistro alongside it, backed by an Italian partner. Catering to the sizeable expat community and returning South Sudanese with Western tastes, he had to negotiate the logistical nightmare of getting equipment and produce into a country that had nothing. No power, no running water, no skilled staff. Nothing.

“Africa is the new land of opportunity, as they say,” Osman tells us. “I’ve been around, all over the Middle East, but everywhere else you’re just a guinea pig – it’s too perfect. Juba? That’s as real as it gets.”

Le Bistro proved profitable six months after opening. The clientele now includes most of the country’s political bigwigs, and on Tuesday, from its terrace, we watched the comings and goings of the security detail for a meeting taking place in the adjacent conference room.  As it turned out, the defence ministers of the two Sudans were hammering out another peace agreement.

                                                                        The Garden of Eden at New Sudan Palace Hotel. (Richard 
                                                                        Poplak)

This post is part of Africa 3.0, a weekly series by Richard Poplak and Kevin Bloom in which they highlight aspects of their travels and investigations on the continent. Visit http://africa3point0.tumblr.com for more, and engage with them on Facebook or Twitter

Kevin Bloom
Guest Author
Advertisting

Steenhuisen takes the lead in DA race while Ntuli falters

‘If you want a guarantee buy a toaster. This is politics’

Ramaphosa bets big on infrastructure to boost economy

Sona was a mixed bag but there were some meaningful announcements

Stranded commuters say Ramaphosa’s rail promises ring hollow

Cape Town’s largest passenger rail line has been closed for months, hitting people’s pockets and adding to road traffic congestion

EFF ‘circus’ becomes contagion as MPs heckle Malema

ANC MPs test the EFF’s disruptive tactics on the leader of the Red Berets in Sona reply
Advertising

Press Releases

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs

Looking inwards

Businesses are finding tangible ways to give back – but only because consumers demand it