The Hospitality Industry
Mama kept the best dinner sets, cutlery and glasses for what she called strangers.
We jumped up and down and told other kids that we had strangers at home. Strangers meant food usually reserved for Sunday and weddings. Strangers also loved kids. They told us we were beautiful and that we looked like some member of the family.
Such a great honour to look like your father or your grandmother!
|Ukhamba. Used for African beer. They come in different sizes.|
Looking back, I don’t know why my parents had such high regard for strange people.
‘Eeeh! Now that you are educated, you think you know better than your parents?’
My parents did not mean it literally. They meant people who did not live with us on a daily basis, such as relatives from the big city where gold is mined or their friends.
They were not strangers at all. They had a connection to our family. It was also based on culture, in my corner of Africa.
Way back when, there were no trains, cars, planes, restaurants and hotels. We just had our land and people walked for days before they reached their destination.
They would stop outside any home, shout that they are strangers passing by and would like to ‘hide their heads’ for the night. My ancestors helped them because they knew that they would also travel somewhere and ask for shelter.
Languages such as isiZulu have many idioms based on being kind to strangers.
The word ‘stranger’ should be seen in that context. It is the reason why mama always cooked more than we could eat.
‘In case someone drops by.’