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Mampoer in the Mara

Having celebrated the cultural heritage of the four main regions of Kenya, it was time to turn our focus to the southern tip of the continent, celebrating the South African branch of the Angama family
Above: Mampoer and Mrs Balls taking pride of place in the Mara

One of the fun aspects of daily life at Angama Mara is meeting people from all over the world – of course, we’re talking about our guests, but this applies within the Angama family, too, with a diversity of cultures across the 150-strong team.

In recognition of this, we started a tradition of celebratory cultural evenings, showcasing food, dress, music, and information and so much more from the different traditions and heritage of the Angama family.

Having grown up as a ‘born-free’ South African (born post-democracy in 1994), I have been brought up with a strong sense of the importance of celebrating other people’s cultures. It is only through understanding that we grow in acceptance of others. I’ll quote Desmond Tutu until I’m blue in the face and here is one of my most loved quotes:

“We are different so that we can know our need for one another.”

The beautiful Angama women in traditional dress for our Coastal Cultural night

There are 45 officially recognised tribes in Kenya, each with different languages, histories and cultures, and our team embodies this incredible diversity. We divided Kenya into four groups (Coast, Western, Rift Valley and Central) with each being allocated a night to introduce the rest of the team to their heritage. All were a cracking success and here Azei writes about Angama By The Sea, as well as the night we celebrated our brothers and sisters from the Rift Valley.

You are invited to the South African Cultural Evening, bring your 'gees' (spirit) and we'll bring the rest

Which left just one ‘Angama tribe’ still to celebrate: the South Africans. There were quite a few of us ‘Saffas’ at the lodge at the same time – including myself, Nicky Fitzgerald, Adam Bannister, Diana Bannister and Amanda Collins, our chef trainer. And what fun we had sharing our country with our Angama family. Amanda prepared an amazing dinner overflowing with chakalaka, pap, boerie rolls, kota, shisa nyama, koeksisters, bunny chow, and so much more.

Amanda with her koeksisters that brought the house down
The chefs cooked up a storm under Amanda's careful watch, from braaivleis to rolls for the boerewors, they'll put any South African chef to shame

Nicky made sure to bring some mampoer (a potent South African moonshine – only 50% proof) from Jo’burg. She had to remove the barbed wire before smuggling it into her suitcase. She also had the foresight to bring some Mrs Balls fruit chutney, because what South African meal is complete without Mrs Balls in attendance? As we say in SA, everything was in place for a proper skop.

The mampoer comes with an obvious warning attached; barbed wire... drink at your own risk
The Angama family very bravely threw back the cherry flavoured 50% alcoholic offering

Adam was the DJ and the all-South African soundtrack created a lively atmosphere throughout the evening, with music ranging from Die Antwoord to Johnny Clegg and everything in-between, including, of course, Jerusalema. I was in charge of the presentation which gave a summary of South Africa’s turbulent history. It started off with this video, which I hoped would give everyone the feel for South Africa.

Vuvuzelas and sweets were thrown across the elegant Map Room to those who answered the quiz questions correctly

Anybody would tell you that I’m exceptionally patriotic, but I wondered how interested the others would be in South Africa’s history? These qualms were quickly put to rest as Nicky brought up Bafana Bafana, South Africa’s national soccer team. It doesn’t take one long to realise that soccer is almost a religion in Kenya and that an easy way to win hearts over is to speak to them about the beautiful game.

After a boogie and a laugh the night came to an end - hambe kahle

With the presentation complete, Mrs Balls properly depleted, and possibly too much mampoer imbibed, we called it a night. I will happily admit that not even this evening could make me feel the slightest bit homesick; it would take a lot more than that to make anybody want to be anywhere other than Angama Mara. In closing, I’ll let Archbishop Tutu have the last word;

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

Filed under: Inside Angama

Tagged with:

Angama Mara , Angama Team , Culture

About: Charlotte Ross Stewart

Charlotte may be the youngest member of the team, but she is a storyteller wise beyond her years. Tasked with sharing the stories that flow out of Angama on social media, blogs and beyond, her love of people, literature and nature make this the perfect role for her.

Browse all articles by Charlotte Ross Stewart Meet the angama team

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