This paper explores the political, economic, and social life of Nelson Mandela through his food choices from 1918 to the present. A description of the minutiae of one particular 1950s Sunday lunch is used to examine the broader role of first colonial and later apartheid legislation in determining the dietary choices and options of South Africans past and present. How such policies shaped attitudes and access to Nelson Mandela’s ancestral Xhosa cuisine is assessed. The long-term cultural, economic, and political impact of a lack of access to core indigenous African ingredients is evaluated. Most of all this paper offers a snapshot portrayal of two families (one white, one black) trying to sustain a normal friendship within a grossly abnormal society.

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