If you’re a regular around Radiokop, Roodeport on the Gauteng West Rand, you’ve likely spotted the “City Mom” and her family cooking meals for job seekers stationed at various corners around the area.
Nteboheleng Motsoanakaba wears many hats, including stay-at-home mom and home cook, but one that is near and dear to her heart is that of founder of Hope and Light.
This feeding scheme nonprofit organisation provides meals to job seekers and the homeless in Radiokop and its surrounding areas.
“I do this because I firmly believe that a person cannot reach their potential on an empty stomach, so I give them a meal a day so they can have hope and [are able to] be productive,” she says.
Motsoanakaba is also the owner of City Mom Cooks, a catering business that specialises in traditional African foods.
“I love people, so engaging with them and hearing their stories keeps me going. A fed human being is a happy human being,” she says.
Family of foodies
Motsoanakaba says all her life she has been surrounded by food lovers.
Growing up in the Borokhoaneng Village in Maseru, Lesotho, she would often watch her mother, Mamokuoane Motsoanakaba, cook and bake for her large family.
“Trust me, that woman is a world class home cook. [She would] host family and friends for Sunday lunches.”
Her husband, Kudus Akande, has also been an inspiration in her food journey. “After I met my husband, I discovered my passion and talent for cooking and food in general,” Motsoanakaba says.
“My husband loves to cook and is good at it. He challenged me with his Nigerian dishes, and I was inspired to learn and polish my skills.”
Despite the influence of her mother and husband, she never imagined she would be the boss of her own food business. “I honestly never thought I would work in the food space. I used to see myself as a social worker. However, food is my love language, so I am enjoying it.”
She mostly prefers cooking anything from jollof rice to mogodu [tripe] in a cauldron on an open fire. “My favourite and most simple recipes would be mince and pasta, which is also my kid’s favourite, as well as a chicken stew.”
Never for a second think that running a nonprofit to share your food love with the needy, is an easy mission.
“I had to employ two people to assist me with my nonprofit organisation. At times I struggled to pay them. It wasn’t easy for me, but I had to let them go as I had no other choice,” Motsoanakaba admits.
She also struggles with intermittent food supply. “So, some people [job seekers and the homeless] wouldn’t get food and that used to break my heart, as I would want all of them to be full. I’m hoping I can get donations of anything that can be of help, to be able to cover at least one area,” she explains.
City Mom Cooks, her small catering business selling food to her family and friends, was started to fund her foundation when Motsoanakaba started facing some of these challenges.
Motsoanakaba’s business specialises in Mzansi delights including mogodu, dombolo, skop [offal], hard body chicken and salads like chakalaka. Sundays are always a treat for the lazy Jozi cooks who can get a warm plate of “seven colours” for delivery.
As a stay-at-home mom who runs a nonprofit and her business, Motsoanakaba believes the food industry plays a significant role in providing food security and nutrition to all human beings. She believes it is one of the most important industries in the world.
“For aspirant chefs and home cooks, be true to your craft and keep trying to perfect it. Food is love, so share your passion with love,” she advises.
Food has the power to unite, she believes. “The most important lesson I’ve learned is that food brings people together and that there is always a mouth to feed, so be kind.”
Get the Mzansi Flavour newsletter: A weekly serving of craveable recipes and handy lifestyle tips.