Braai for Christmas lunch? SA has some of the best quality meat on the continent

South African boerewors has proven to be a hit in Côte d’Ivoire. File Picture

South African boerewors has proven to be a hit in Côte d’Ivoire. File Picture

Published Dec 24, 2022


Johannesburg - With no indication that Eskom may spare South Africans the inconvenience of load shedding over the Christmas weekend, many are looking for alternatives for this year’s Christmas lunch.

Many may choose to forgo the traditional meals that take forever to prepare, so gammon may be off the menu this season. So a traditional South African favourite may be on the cards.

Well, the good news is that South Africa has some of the best meat on the continent.

CEO and founder of pet food brand Maneli Pets, Nhlanhla Dlamini, (38) believed in South African meat so much he wanted to export it to the American market.

“I realised that there was a massive global market that we needed to tap into, one that we have been kind of ignoring as South Africans,” Dlamini said.

“As South Africans, I think we know that we have tremendous proteins. Our beef is delicious, our lamb is really, really good, and our ostrich is phenomenal. We take it for granted because it’s what we’ve known all our lives. Every year when international visitors come to SA, they remark about how good our meat is, and how well-priced it is.”

South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in Africa, if not in the world. This translates into a plethora of languages, cultures, and diets.

One thing we can agree on when it comes to food: nothing beats a serving of meat and pap, or “pap en vleis” as it is more commonly known by South Africans from all walks of life.

Now this South African staple has gone international, and is a big hit in Côte d’Ivoire, thanks to entrepreneur and restaurateur Juliet Jekera.

Juliet was born in Zimbabwe and moved to Côte d’Ivoire with her aunt and uncle. Her uncle was employed in a bank, and her aunt owned a Newscafe franchise, and this is where Juliet cut her teeth in the food business.

Jekera now owns a restaurant in Côte d’Ivoire, Restaurant Espace 777, where she serves African and European dishes. Her most popular dishes are boerewors and T-bone steaks from South Africa.

She rates South African meat very highly, and believes it gives her a competitive edge over other eateries in Côte d’Ivoire.

“I wanted my restaurant to be unique, to serve meat that others are not serving. And I think the meat from southern Africa is tastier,” she said.

Until recently, Juliet has been unable to serve customers’ favourite dish back in Côte d’Ivoire, due to not being able to acquire the meat. It’s been years since she has been able to do so – she was on the last SAA flight to Abidjan before SAA closed the route due to the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago.

Ivorian restauranteur Juliet Jekera. Picture: Supplied

All that has since changed, and Jekera was a passenger on Air Côte d’Ivoire’s inaugural flight -- the quickest route between Abidjan and Johannesburg -- when it was launched in June this year.

Jekera’s eclectic clientele mix will now finally be able to order South African meat off of her menu again, and satisfy a two-year craving.

“My customers will be very happy, because we have been without (South African) meat since Covid,” she said. “My customers are Ivorian and international; I have all sorts of clients.”

“This (new Air Côte d’Ivoire) flight is just going to make my life easier,” Jekera said.

She buys her meat in Kempton Park, close to OR Tambo International airport, and is now looking for other butcheries to buy meat from.

“This route will mean a lot for business opportunities between Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa. And it will bring a lot of new opportunities for others who want to do business between the two countries”

“I love doing business in Africa,” said Jekera.

[email protected]

IOL Business