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National Braai Day in South Africa

Submitted by on September 22, 2013 – 8:36 amNo Comment

southafrica_braaiSouth Africa’s National Heritage Day is morphing into National Braai Day to celebrate barbecuing in all its forms: burgers, steak, ribs, crawfish, lamb, sausages. (Braai is an Afrikans word for “barbecue” or “grill”.)

Jan Braai (real name Jan Scannell) is the man behind the National Braai Day initiative, which is seen as a cultural reconciliation effort. The idea is to have South Africans of all backgrounds and ethnicities gathering around fires and cooking up something good to share.

“Across race, language, region and religion, we all share one common heritage. It is called many things: Chisa Nyama, Braai and Ukosa to name few. Although the ingredients may differ, the one thing that never changes is that when we have something to celebrate we light fires, and prepare great feasts,” he explains.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Emeritus Archbishop Doctor Desmond Tutu, is patron of the National Braai Day initiative.

What is Chisa Nyama (or, Chesa Nyama or Shisa Nyama or Shisanyama)? “They are all the same thing, Scannell explains. “They are Zulu terms for braaing. The first word in all of them: Chisa, Chesa, Shisa are different ways of spelling the same thing, and its literal meaning is ‘burn’. The second word in the phrase, ‘Nyama’ means ‘meat’. So the literal definition of ‘Chisa Nyama’ is ‘Burn Meat’. But it does not refer to burnt meat. ‘Chisa Nyama’ means ‘braai’, words used as a verb and as a noun.”

It’s a little late to make plans for this year’s celebration (it’s Tuesday, September 24, 2013), but there’s always next year, Road Trips Foodies. In the meantime, toss something tasty on the grill and salute the new South Africa.

(Photo courtesy of National Braai Day)

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