Slice of Life: A break in poverty’s circle

Xolani Mantshongodares to dream of a better future under a new ANC (Delwyn Verasamy)

Xolani Mantshongodares to dream of a better future under a new ANC (Delwyn Verasamy)

I sell ox livers and hearts at home in Dobsonville. 

I learned to cook from the streets. I went to the spice shop and asked for the best mix so I could sell more of my product.

Liver isn’t like chops or any other meat; it’s very sensitive. At first, I made some mistakes, but you improve with mistakes.
There was a recipe I was using before but it wasn’t good and my customers didn’t like it. Then I changed the kinds of spices I was using. Now they love it.

When I was little, we used to go on Sundays and buy liver. My mother used to cook it, but my wife, she’s the best cook, because she has a passion for it.

My wife encouraged me to start this catering business.

We met at a birthday party; she was turning 21. Her charisma and her sense of humour stood out for me. I didn’t ask her out. She just became my friend, and we started talking to one another. My wife is my treasure.

I have a son and two daughters. My son is in the art business. He wrote a book of poetry. I have a copy of it in the car. He’s into poetry, music, rap, all sorts of things. My older daughter is going into grade 12 next year.

When I heard that Jacob Zuma had announced free education, I felt at least something is coming because my wife, she is the only one who is working. She does administration but it doesn’t pay much money. Free education would go a long way for us. If my children can study further — that circle of poverty? — they’ll break it. — Xolani Mantshongo, as told to Laura Lopéz González

Laura Lopez Gonzalez

Laura Lopez Gonzalez

Laura Lopez Gonzalez is the deputy editor of the Mail & Guardian's Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism. Lopez has covered health for more than 10 years, working for Irin, Doctors Without Borders and the Open Society Foundations. She was the print editor of Health-e News Service and has won numerous awards. She is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Read more from Laura Lopez Gonzalez

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