Originally published in Lesotho Times on July 11, 2012.
“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” Brillat-Savarin
On Tuesday night, I attended the launch of “Cuisine of the Mountain Kingdom, Cooking in Lesotho”, a new book by Ska Mirriam Moteane. Through her company, Ska’s Kitchen Consultancy, she has established herself as a business leader in the local food industry.
The book was officially launched by Her Majesty Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso who shared the above thought — provoking quote during her speech. The event brought to life several positive aspects of women and entrepreneurship.
Follow your heart
After completing her studies at the National University of Lesotho, Ska decided to enrol in a culinary school, in pursuance of her passion for food. Many of her family members advised her against it. They were worried that she wouldn’t make a living from it and would “be wasting time studying cooking.” In those days Ska was a young woman who, in the words of her uncle Ntate Matjato Moteane, showed “independence of thought” and a “tempestuous personality”. Although misinterpreted at the time, these characteristics stood her in good stead because she ignored the warnings and followed her heart.
Taking the time to create something is not easy. This became apparent as Ska recounted some of the things she had to do during the three years the book was in the making.
There were many trips to outlying villages in Lesotho where she learnt how different women cooked various dishes and some cooked the same dish differently. Furthermore their units of measurement were not the sort that could go into a recipe book. This meant she had to go back into her kitchen to standardise the recipes and be accurate in terms of the ingredient amounts. The book also has colourful pictures which involved commissioning a professional photographer and taking her out to the various places.
A source of passive income
Any consultant, trainer or chef will tell you that one of the challenges of running a business is that they have to be physically present for the business to generate an income. This is where the concept of passive income comes in. By writing this book, Ska has introduced into her business, a product which can generate income even when she is sitting at home. Not only that but it serves as a marketing tool for her business and can reach people that she would never have known. This is something that could benefit similar types of businesses.
A trainer can develop materials on CD or workbooks which companies can use during in-house training. With advancements in technology, there are new ways of doing business which can be cost-effective to the corporates and the businessperson.
Partnering for success
Many people abandon an idea because they want answers about the future before they implement it. Who will buy the product and where will the money for printing come from? I am sure these questions must have gone through Ska’s mind too but she carried on even though she didn’t have those answers.
When the time came to cross that bridge she was pleasantly surprised at how willing people were to assist her. A number of corporates sponsored the book printing and launch. Another gave her accommodation at their lodge when she was in the field. It would be much easier to undertake a project once all the commitments for support have been secured but life rarely works that way. It takes faith and courage to work on something even when there are many unanswered questions.
When talent meets opportunity
Ska talked about how she looked around and realised there was “a vacuum in terms of Basotho cuisine”. There were no books which document Basotho recipes and the Basotho way of life with regard to food. She then decided to “resuscitate dishes that have almost disappeared” and she filled the gap by writing this book. In the process she came up with over a hundred recipes which could not be accommodated in one book. So one thing she promised guests is that they can expect a second and even a third book from her.