South Africa

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Cape Town organisation cooks tons of Aknie for 90,000 people to mark Eid al-Fitr

A helper works late into the night preparing one of the many 130 litre pots of food that that will eventually feeding thousands of hungry people . (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Cape Town-based Nakhlistan has cooked food for more than 90,000 people in the Western Cape on the day of Eid al-Fitr. The non-profit organisation has been providing a meal for the hungry annually for the past 37 years. Covid-19 may have made the logistics more complex for the past two years, but this did not stop the distribution of meals to 77 areas in the province.

Volunteers from Nakhlistan cooked 179 pots of Aknie to feed more than 90,000 people in 77 areas on Eid al-Fitr, which fell on 14 May this year.

Helpers at the Nakhlistan Eid Cooking at Callies Rugby Field on May 13 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. In 1984, 2 pots of food were cooked with donations from family and friends. 37 years later Nakhlistan cooked 179 x 130lt pots of Aknie to feed over 90 000 of the less fortunate in the Western Cape, on the day of Eidul Fitr. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

The organisation cooks thousands of meals on the eve of Eid al-Fitr each year to provide food to anyone and everyone who needs a meal that day. Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr after the 29 or 30 days of fasting during Ramadan. 

This year, Covid-19 once again prevented the crowds of hundreds of people from gathering to witness the cooking process. The organisation live streamed the cooking on Facebook.

Wood is constantly put on the fires which were started in the late in the afternoon and they will only stop when all the food is done which will be after midnight . (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Nonetheless, volunteers assisted in cooking the food. A dedicated safety officer and Covid-19 compliance officer observed the cooking. Due to physical distancing, the volunteers cooked in two shifts. The first cooked 96 pots of food while the second cooked 83 pots.

Each pot contains 130 litres of Aknie and is cooked over a wood fire. The organisation said it has “pioneered” this type of cooking and “is so pleased to see how other organisations are following suit”.

Two of the many volunteers busy stirring the pots under intense heat from the fires (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Aknie is an aromatic dish of meat, potatoes and rice. The volunteers used the grounds of the Callies Rugby Field in Rylands Estate to cook all four tons of meat, three tons of rice, three tons of potatoes and two tons of onions and spices. This was fuelled by burning 30,000 pieces of wood.

A crate of potatoes are added to the pot of Aknie being been prepared by volunteers (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Founder Shukoor Mowzer and two friends cooked up two pots of food on Eid al-Fitr in 1984 after they realised fellow residents of Athlone in Cape Town did not have food to mark the celebration. The food was sponsored by family and friends that year.

Since then, the organisation has grown exponentially. It provides thousands of meals year round through its soup kitchens and feeding schemes. It has also responded during crises, such as during the Covid-19 lockdown and during periods of xenophobic violence. It also operates a soup kitchen in Gaza, Palestine. DM/MC.

 

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