Things I Love About My Hood; Queenstown

I’ve come to realize that I feature other places, restaurants and people from the different provinces.  However, I never feature my own backyard, the Eastern Cape Province.  The reason for that is because whenever I go home I just want to spend time with my family and relax.   But that is unfair.  There is so much vibrancy in the province but for now I’ll let you in on my hometown, Queenstown.  Ask anyone, Queenstown is a vibey and happening small town known for its beautiful people and their daring personalities.  For an example; the audacious Koyo from the music group 3 Sum, Zenande Mfenyane aka Noluntu Memela, the amazing actress with locks to die for from South Africa’s favourite soapie, Generations, not forgetting, Avumile Qongqo gorgeous leggy model.

We all have stuff that we look for when we get home.  They can be things, places and people that give us a sense of familiarity and a feeling of welcome.   A sense of relaxation and peacefulness.  Home is a place where people have known you since your skinny kid days.  And if you have done well to shape up your life those same people will be the first to say “Ey, you are doing well and we are proud”.  They can also be the same people who give you direction and guidance when everything is a little fuzzy or not going as planned in life.

Home is that place where the neighbor will come and ask for money for beer because you are coming from the city or that annoying neighbour that keeps on asking “when are you getting married?”.

In my case, Queenstown, a small town with one busy street called Cathcart Road in the Eastern Cape is what I call home.   It’s a place with a Joburg like weather; icy cold Winter and wet and rainy in Summer with lightning and thunderstorms.  These are some of the things that I look forward to when I go home:


Mielies (Umbona)

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The “Mielieeeeeees!” ladies were made popular by the comedy series, Madam and Eve.  You find them everywhere in rural towns. When I say mielies I mean real corn, not the sweet corn you find in every retail outlet.  In Cape Town, one really struggles to find these ladies and if lucky you get to find them in Langa Township.  In the Eastern Cape they don’t yell “Mielies!” instead they yell “Umbona bethuna umbona!  Umbon’oshushu!”  I bought some mielies from Sis Thandiwe, she was pretty cool and even posed for a pic!


MaZondi: The street vendor that sells Isibindi (Sheep Liver)

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As a school kid I bought street food, as a teenager I started questioning the hygiene of the people and the conditions in which the food was prepared.  This is how I got re-introduced to street food:  My mom used to buy sheep liver from a street vendor whenever we went shopping.  She would buy from the vendor while I, my two sisters and brother waited in the car.  Then come back and let us watch while she savoured it.  The aroma would be so good, we ended up trying and were pleasantly surprised.  I went to buy Isibindi from MaZondi, there was a long queue and it was raining but people didn’t care.   I bought a plate and took it home to my mom.  You should have seen the look on her face.  Haha!

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Writing on the wall

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A lot of black households have this writing on their walls.  Back in the day it used to be a glittery writing.  The one at my mom’s house has been there for over two decades.  If we moved houses, we moved with it.


 Painting in my room

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The painting that is in what used to be my room – In 1997 when my family relocated to Queenstown, my mom bought what you call a dutch house (at home we call it a Jan van Riebieck house).  She bought the house from an elderly Afrikaaner couple, the Viljoens.  They left us with all their curtains and some of the decorations.  Lord knows we didn’t have curtains for all the windows in that house.   I thought that was very kind of them.  The painting still hangs in the room, it’s not my room anymore as you can expect after living in Cape Town for 12 years.   The words on the panting still serve as my daily reminder – “Watch and Pray- for you know neither the day nor the hour”.


Paraffin lamp and Castiron Iron

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These little things get one to appreciate their journey in life.  You think back that ey, we started from cooking making fire outside then progressed to a Primer stove to a gas stove and finally an electric stove.  Clothes were ironed using a castiron iron and they would burn the hell out of one’s clothes.  White school shirts were ironed these irons.  Remembering this journey makes me not to take any of my blessings for granted.  I also like to share my story and experience because there is somebody out there still using these lamps and irons.  Them knowing that somebody who started from there can make, I can only hope it gives them inspiration that they can also make it in life.


Naleding Sports Bar

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Naleding is owned by former teacher, Zwai Ngodo.  He used to be my teacher in high school and he hit the hell out of us.  Hehe! Unfortunately, Maths was not one of my strong points.  So I got the beatings for not knowing the answers.  Mr Ngondo left his teaching career and he started a very popular sports bar called Naleding.  It is a place to be!  Ziyakhipha!


Man’s Braai Place

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If you talk of Queenstown and are looking that place where everyone hangs out then Mans is the place for you.   Mans is a Queenstown version of Tembisa’s Busy Corner.  You should see it during the festive season.  It is definitely the place to be.

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Shamrock Pies

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Everyone of us has that food item they loved in their childhood.  For me it’s a Shamrock pie.  So whenever I am back in the province I have to get one.

Now that you know what I love about my hood, tell me what do you love about your hood?


About Author


Thuli Gogela is a Food Technologist with 8 years of experience developing products in food manufacturing. She is dedicated to discovering wholesome traditional dishes and recipes with a distinctive taste from different parts of the African continent. Thuli is well known for her food blog, Mzansi Style Cuisine which was established in 2010. She saw a gap in the traditional food market that people were hungry for. From there, it didn’t take long to build her brand. In 2013, she started writing a recipe column for the Cape Times for and has collaborated with some of the biggest brands in South Africa namely, Knorr, Nedeburg Wines, First Choice and Spekko rice. Not only does Thuli feature traditional African dishes, she’s also open to developing recipes, food consultations and brand collaborations.

Comments ( 4 )

  • Blessed

    Ooow lovely story Thulie you should take me with next time. This just reminded me of my village, whenever we used to visit my grandmother in the village, there was one dish i used to like, its called Umxhanxa (African sweet corn soup). Delicious dish that I even tried once to prepare it myself and i messed it up kkkkkkkkkk

    • Hey B!
      LOL! Wena you can’t cook! In Xhosa we call it Umxhaxha, there’s a recipe here on the blog but its not a soup. Is Umxhanxa in Ndebele?


      • Blessed

        Hey Thulie

        LOL I can cook hey. Yeah in Ndebele we call it Umxhanxa.

  • Sinomtha

    Best Meal Ever. My Gran used to cook it when there were many of us

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