Byline: Kelebogile Masemola

23 August 2022

The 5th Blue Ribbon Soweto Kota Festival returns to the Kasi and brings with it Gauteng’s top local chefs and outlets all specialising in the Kota, DJs and more.

On Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2022, families and friends will come together at the Elkah Cricket Oval in Rockville, Soweto to celebrate the arrival of warmer weather and South Africa’s true Kasi comfort food.

The festival is a platform for local chefs and outlets to tease the palette with both tried and tested fillings and the unexpected ingredient or two.

Over the five years the festival has been running it has grown in popularity and support with many repeat visitors travelling across South Africa to attend the weekend, despite the trying economic conditions.

Patrons are as diverse as the nation and organisers believe that this year they are expecting to host over 20 000 people at the two-day event.

“The idea was born from a need to have a social food festival that pairs music and our township staple cuisine food that is affordable to everyone.

When we conceptualised the concept, we automatically received buy-in from the community, everyone was thinking about it, but I guess we had the courage to see it through,” Organiser of the Kota Festival, Sidwell Tshingilane said.

Although its name and fillings differ from place to place; bunny chow, gatsby, skhambane and shibobo, the Kota has become a staple in many townships around South Africa.

Tasty, affordable and plentiful, the Kota originated from the ubiquitous Durban bunny chow, a dish made for people who, because of the apartheid system, could not sit down to a dish of food.

The hollowed out bread, ordered in halves (on a good day) and quarters (where the name kota comes from) served as a vessel to hold the meal and a gravy-soaked delight at the end of the meal.

Although it was once considered a “workers meal”, the kota has grown in popularity and migrated out of the township and into the surburbs and has even found its way to the streets of San Francisco, where eaten in hand, it’s become a firm favourite amongst Americans at Amawele’s South African Kitchen.

Various outlets and local chefs have put their own spin on this bread and filling delight that not only fills the stomach but has the taste buds jiving.

The Blue Ribbon Soweto Kota Festival serves as an enterprise development, promoting the township economy and building a larger market of Kota fans around the city and country.

“Our previous record before Covid saw one vendor make more than R30 000 from selling at the festival and that makes us happy as young guys from Soweto, we call ourselves the Township economy advocates because we support what our government advocates for in our communities,” said Tshingilane.

The event also draws a lot of attention from other provinces which brings tourism to Soweto and many local BNB’s, hotels, car washes and township vendors benefit from the weekend.

Even the neighbourhood gets a boost with the overflow paid parking in people’s yards.

Along with 40 different Kota stalls, there will be live performances with some of the city’s top DJs, spot prize giveaways and a kids entertainment area.

Blue Ribbon Soweto Kota Festival tickets can be bought from Checkers, OK Foods, Computicket or Shoprite.

Kids under 4 years of age enter for free, early bird tickets are only R80 for adults and R40 for children.

Pre-sold tickets will cost you R90 for adults and R50 for children.