JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Want to eat like Mandela?
The former South African president’s personal chef has published “Ukutya Kwasekhaya: Tastes from Nelson Mandela's Kitchen,” a recipe book featuring the anti-apartheid icon's favorite dishes, including tripe, oxtail stew and corn and beans.
The book’s title means “home cooking” in Xhosa.
The cookbook is part of efforts by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to show Mandela as a multi-dimensional person, “not just some remote icon up there,” said Achmat Dangor, CEO of the foundation.
At a packed event in Johannesburg Thursday, Mandela family members paid tribute to chef Xoliswa Ndoyiya, the woman who for more than 20 years has cooked traditional African meals for Nelson Mandela and his kin.
Mandela's great-grandson Luvuyo Mandela described Ndoyiya — known affectionately as “Xoli” — as the family's best-kept secret.
"UMam' Xoli was more than just someone that prepared meals, she was a parent to a lot of us,” he said.
Mandela, 93, is in frail health and didn’t attend the book launch (his last public appearance was at the soccer World Cup in 2010). He retired in 2004, and today splits his time between Johannesburg and his country home in Qunu, the Eastern Cape village where he lived as a boy.
But although Mandela is officially out of the spotlight, the fascination with “Madiba,” as he is called in South Africa, has only intensified — despite the efforts of the Nelson Mandela Foundation to bring his image back down to Earth.
Rumors frequently circulate on Twitter that Mandela has died. His movements are announced to prevent panicked speculation like the chaos that surrounded his hospitalization a year ago for a respiratory infection.
The most recent official Mandela update said that on Sunday he flew to Johannesburg to stay in the city while his Qunu home undergoes routine maintenance.
"The former president continues to be in good health. We once more appeal for his privacy and that of his family to be respected," said Mac Maharaj, spokesman for President Jacob Zuma. "If there are any developments, we'll make an announcement."
Mandela’s last remaining sibling, his youngest sister Nothusile Bhulehluthi, died last Saturday in Qunu at age 81. She was one of 13 children that Mandela’s father had with his four wives.
There is growing attention on the next generation of Mandelas, in particular eldest grandson Mandla Mandela, a village chief and member of parliament who has been accused of polygamy and land-grabbing from villagers.
He was previously the center of controversy after allegations that he sold the rights to his grandfather’s funeral to the South African Broadcasting Corporation for 3 million rand (about $430,000).
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Worried about Mandla’s behavior soiling the family name, the African National Congress — South Africa’s ruling party, and the party of Nelson Mandela — recently arranged an urgent meeting of senior ANC leaders and the Mandela family to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, three of Mandela’s granddaughters are to star in a forthcoming reality show that trades on their famous name. “Being Mandela,” following their lives as young businesswomen and socialites, will reportedly be aired this year on networks in Africa and on a cable network in the US, although the details are still being finalized.
Even Mandela himself is getting the TV treatment. A $20-million, six-part miniseries telling his life story was announced last month and will be shot in South Africa later this year.
Grandson Kweku Mandela, a co-producer, said the series, titled “Madiba,” will aim to “unravel Mandela the man,” not just “Mandela the saint."