Sifiso Ntuli and Ashley Heron are partners, not just in love but in food, music and culture. They own the Roving Bantu Kitchen in Brixton, serving up the most fabulous Afro soul food, as well as offering monthly walking tours through the area.
The restaurant is the meeting point for the walks. On entering I decided I did not want to leave. The brightly coloured walls, amazing collection of posters both vintage and political, the fantastic art and sculpture, tables with funky tablecloths all pressed close to one another, the smell of freshly baked vetkoek and coffee – ah, this was cosy!
The Roving Bantu Kitchen is exactly that. It is not just about offering divine food in a colourful setting; it is absolutely about bringing people together. We were about a dozen or so, all strangers doing a walking tour, but instantly and I think because of the intimacy of the place, we were friends.
Sifiso briefed us on the walk. He began by telling us about the history of Brixton. I learned that until 1902 Brixton used to be known as ‘Kaffir Kasie’ so offensive and awful, but is today a completely racially integrated neighbourhood with a wonderful community and huge regeneration. He said we would check out ‘Fietas’ for ourselves, which is the adjacent suburb. Fietas was once a ‘government village’ designated for poor whites. It is still unbelievably poor but totally racially integrated and incredibly interesting, although the scars of apartheid absolutely leap out at you.
The walk is wonderful. It is about 8 kms, heading from Brixton, through Fietas and then on to the Braamfontein Cemetery which could be a tour all of its own. The cemetery is not public property but the ‘Roving Bantus’ have permission to go inside and again, the stories are astonishing. Each grave tells a story, either about the Chinese, the Dutch, the Indians or the Jews, and their journeys to and in South Africa.
From the cemetery there is transport back to The Roving Bantu Kitchen where a feast awaits. While Sifiso leads the tour, Ashley and her team cook. Samosas to start, then all different kinds of chicken, stew, curry, vegetables, divine spinach and vegetables I’ve never heard of, ending off with ice cream and fried bananas, pineapple on sticks and more of that fabulous coffee, or beer, until we literally rolled out of there and home.
The Roving Bantu Kitchen is open from Thursday through to Sunday. Sometimes there is music, sometimes poetry, sometimes a special occasion, sometimes just great food and company. And the tours are on the last Sunday of each month.
You’ll find the Roving Bantu Kitchen on the corner of Caroline and Esther Streets. Bookings are essential and you can call them on 083 235 3076 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries.
The food is good. The atmosphere is amazing. The entire experience with the walk and the food, totally brilliant.