Nelson Mandela Day Ramaphosa

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From Frosties to ‘umvubu’: Some of Madiba’s bizarre meal requests

In The South African’s exclusive series on the iconic statesman’s personal chef, Xoliswa Ndoyiya recalls some of Nelson Mandela’s favourite meals.

Nelson Mandela Day Ramaphosa

Nelson Mandela. Image:

Nelson Mandela had a known love for wholesome, home-cooked traditional food. It was not long into her time cooking for the former president when his personal cook, Xoliswa Ndoyiya, learnt that rice was not a favourite and that he would go to great lengths for his bowl of umvubo (krummelpap and sour milk).

Typical day menu for a revered statesman?

So what was a typical day’s menu for one of the world’s most loved and revered statesmen? Madiba would start the day with a fruit platter, with some of his favourites – pawpaw, mango, kiwi and banana.

This would be followed by a bowl of porridge, mixed with nuts and raisins, and a hot breakfast of two fried eggs, lettuce, pork sausage, one rasher bacon and mushroom – all in small or manageable portions. He would enjoy a cup of coffee, alongside a thin slice of freshly baked bread with marmalade jam and no butter.

ALSO READ: Mandela Month with Xoliswa Ndoyiya: Happy Birthday, Madiba!

Mandela joins grandkids for Frosties fun

“One day, after 18 years working for him and him having porridge everyday, he decided to join the grandkids in having Frosties – being sugar-coated, containing colourants all that. I gave in and gave it to him,” Ndoyiya recalls.

“When he wanted it a second time the next day, I refused because it couldn’t be good for him. He then sat me down and said ‘Xoli, I have honoured my mother enough’. I then realised that he was really sticking to his usual porridge to honour his mother and her legacy.”

Lunch menu

Lunch, which would change according to his preference on the day, would be umngqusho (samp and beans) or dumplings and oxtail stew, or umvubo (krummelpap and sour milk).

“Tata always preferred to eat the heavier meals over lunch, giving him time to properly digest and would go for a light supper, like fish and vegetables,” said Ndoyiya.

ALSO READ: Bet you cannot score 100% on this Nelson Mandela quiz

No rice, please

Early into Ndoyiya’s tenure as Madiba’s personal chef, she came to learn that Madiba was not a fan of rice.

“The first meal I cooked for him was orange chicken, vegetables and rice. That’s when I learnt that he wasn’t really a rice person. Wayigqiba (he finished it), but left the rice on the plate,” she said.

“He told me that he much rather enjoyed the chicken and vegetables, but he was so gentle in telling me this because I don’t think he wanted to hurt my feelings.”

GET THE RECIPE: Oxtail stew – A dish Nelson Mandela loved to share

From South Africa with love: ‘Umvubo’ for Mandela

Madiba’s love for umvubo is well known. However, when Ndoyiya got a request from London to package umphokoqo (krummel pap) and sour milk, in what looked like a birthday gift.

“Apparently he was tired of hotel food and would follow up with the people who were to take the food to him to constantly check and ensure that the parcel got to London. It was like he would not accept anything to the contrary,” Ndoyiya recalled, with a chuckle.

Get more Nelson Mandela articles, quizzes and recipes of his favourite food here.