We spoke to three farming families in South Africa to find out what they are getting up to this Easter.
Food for Mzansi relishes in old Easter traditions and stories from three farming families and hear how they plan to spend Easter this year.

Easter is known globally as the oldest festival of the Christian church, celebrating the resurrection of Christ. For some it is a time to reflect, while for others the long weekend presents the perfect opportunity to eat as much as you can.

No doubt – South Africans love this holiday, but what is it about Easter that puts everyone in such a great mood? Food For Mzansi checked in with a few of our farming friends to find out what they’re getting up to this long weekend.

A backyard Easter for the Senakhomo’s

Lerato Senakhomo explained that she is looking forward to recharging and enjoying the weekend with friends and family after a few busy farming months.

This energetic, 27-year-old farmer grew up in Thokozo, Ekurhuleni with her two older brothers. She remembers the season being a time to spend with family and feasting on all the chocolates you can find.

Lerato Senakhomo and her three daughters Tshiamo, Tshimilo and Ponthso.
Lerato Senakhomo and her three daughters Tshiamo, Tshimilo and Ponthso.

“I also remember how mom would prepare pickled fish days in advance. And also how me and my brothers would sneak into the kitchen to quickly grab some without her knowledge.”

But besides the food, Easter holds a bigger meaning for the Senakhomo family. For them, this day meant going to church to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, while reflecting on their faith and how blessed they were.

Senakhomo says these traditions have carried over to her own family. “This year our entire family will be attending church in support of my uncle, who will be uniformed in the church’s men’s guild.”

Thereafter they will head home to enjoy baked ham, with mustard glaze, and scalloped potatoes that Senakhomo is preparing herself. “I’m also making my first carrot cake,” she says.

Swarts family spreading festive cheer

Preline Swart, former hairstylist turned farmer and agricultural industry leader, who is raising two beautiful children, Charmile (16) and Hope (10), while running a farm in the Overberg region of the Western Cape with her husband, Ralph.

Preline Swart with her husband, Ralph and their children, Charmile and Hope.
Preline Swart with her husband, Ralph and their children, Charmile and Hope.

She says everyone in her family is excited for Easter this year. However, she suspects that it might be because everyone is eager to know what she has up her culinary sleeve. “They don’t know I’m making all their favourites this year. From sago pudding, Easter eggs, fresh warm bread, my own little spin on hot cross buns and then of course the renowned pickled fish.”

The 37-year-old remembers her mother zealously preparing her pickled fish recipe on the Wednesday already. For years Swart’s mother believed in following the pickled fish recipe she had cut out from a Huisgenoot magazine, step-by-step. She says her mother did eventually experiment a bit by adding dried fruits to the braised onions.

“I was raised by my single mother, who enjoyed spoiling me during the Easter season.  Our Christian roots run deep, so we always had a full program around this time.”

Swart says that she and her family will be doing the same, and plan to spread the Easter cheer with their employees and their children. “My daughter and I will be participating in community outreach programmes. Handing out toys, food parcels, Easter eggs and festive love to the underprivileged people in the Overberg.”

Slabbert family bending Easter rules

One of Food For Mzansi’s farming friends in the Free State, Danie Slabbert recommended that we speak to his wife, Via Slabbert. She says that is a good call, because what he knows about making pickled fish is dangerous.

Mrs. Slabbert on the other is a pro at it, but warns she’s not making it this year. “This year we are breaking all culinary Easter laws. Our family is headed to Limpopo this weekend where we will be camping in the bushveld, making pizza’s in the outdoor oven all weekend long.”

Slabbert clan enjoying family time out on their in Free State.
Slabbert clan enjoying family time out on their in Free State.

Her parents might be a little shocked to learn that their daughter will be spending Easter eating nothing but pizza, but they’d be proud to know that she’s keeping one part of their family tradition, and that’s to share the news of Christ with her loved ones.

Every Good Friday her family attended church, where they celebrated in song. She believes that Easter has morphed into a period that is now regarded as a time for Easter bunnies and not Jesus. “People brush it off as just another long weekend, but there’s so much more to it.”

Memories of her childhood are filled with love, joy and contentment, especially around the Easter period. “Mom taught us how to respect each other and love our neighbours, but it is the food we ate that I miss the most. Pumpkin fritters, lamb, and malva pudding – these were some of my favorites.”

Duncan Masiwa
DUNCAN MASIWA is a budding journalist with a passion for telling great agricultural stories. He hails from Macassar, close to Somerset West in the Western Cape, where he first started writing for the Helderberg Gazette community newspaper. Besides making a name for himself as a columnist, he is also an avid poet who has shared stages with artists like Mahalia Buchanan, Charisma Hanekam, Jesse Jordan and Motlatsi Mofatse.