Teecee Boley is new to Johannesburg and to Wits University. She arrived from Liberia six months ago and is still adjusting to her new surroundings and the local cuisine of South Africa. Portia Kobue helps Boley find traditional Liberian food in the city of gold.
Gathering up her greens in a fork, Tecee Boley’s face exudes a sense of contentment. This is her first Liberian meal since she arrived in South Africa in February.
The journalism student could hardly believe how easy it is to access to her home-grown favourite foods right here in Johannesburg, some 10, 000 kilometres away from her home.
Boley had been feeling homesick ever since her arrival in Johannesburg, and with no friends to take her around Johannesburg, she shut herself up in her apartment and put all her energy into her studies.
She wiped out all cravings for Liberian food from her mind, oblivious to the Yeoville market just around the corner from her apartment in Parktown.
Meat and caligreen stew was bought from this market Yeoville market. Accompanied by gary, a sour porridge made from cassava, as well as okra, fish and chicken stew, the meal took Boley all the way back to memories of her family in a mouthful.
Her face lights up. “This makes me think of my mother and my brother in Monrovia”. Monrovia is the Liberian capital city and is is named after American President James Monroe. The country, owing to the indigenous people and freed slaves, is today a melting pot of different cultures and and foods.
Boley says that sharing food with family is a favourite past time for Liberians, but ‘gate crashers’ are always welcome to join in. Liberians love to cook big, spicy meals consisting of different combinations of stews.
Liberia’s independence day is coming up on July 26, and Boley may be thinking of all the merry-making she will be missing out on but she now has a way of feeding her longing for home.