Slice of Life: A break in poverty’s circle

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

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