The voice of Alex Mthijine Gagasi escapes from the car radio at 7 in the morning. All I can hear are mumbles because my mind is a stir of anticipation of the adventure ahead of me. My luggage is in the boot and I am suitably attired in hiking boots, sweat pants and a plain T-shirt. The hills of Babanango in Zululand are waiting for me.
I am going on the the annual geology field trip, compulsory for all UKZN geology students.
“Kusihlwa, solala phansi etendeni (apparently we are sleeping on the ground in a tent),” says Andiswa. Her big eyes are bulging at me as we enter the camp facilities.
“Hhayi ngeke ngikwazi,” I reply.
The group stands around the fire, and a beautiful dark skinned lady stands before us.
“Good evening, my name is Nolwazi, your camp facilitator. This camp is for work and fun. One cannot exist without the other. So you guys will enjoy yourselves here. But first you must know that you have to make your own food. So for tonight’s dinner five students will be in charge of making it for all of us.”
Everyone looks at each other waiting for someone else to put up their hands but no one does. Finally, hands slowly creep up, It’s Sashen-Lee and his entourage of geeks. Everyone including myself seems impressed, tonight we’ll be eating food cooked by Indians and Indians are known for their flavour-filled food and decadent hot spices.
The smell from the kitchen is enticing, everyone’s stomach is rumbling and I can already feel my mouth salivating with anticipation of that tikka chicken.
“Food is ready!” shouts Sashen-Lee from the kitchen.
We all come dashing in with our cutlery and plates, pushing each other in the line because no one wants to be last.
And finally food is being dished onto my plate. I look down in disbelief – the rice is soggy and looks like “pap rice”, the curry that made my mouth water looks like a dogs’ breakfast. I look around to see if I’m the only one seeing this. Then I hear someone mumble, “Yinike le esidlisna yona mamhlanje,” and then everyone breaks out into laughter.
No one even dares taste the food, we each sneak away one by one to throw the food in the dustbin far from camp and return with empty plates and compliments to Sashen-Lee and his crew.
That night we slept with empty stomachs but at least we did not break the hearts of those who put in so much effort into preparing food for us.
But we decided from that day on that we would be the ones in control of the kitchen.