Photo © Meri Hyöky / Text by Leila Hall
Ska Moteane is an award-winning chef, entrepreneur and activist. After studying and working in South Africa for several years, she returned to Lesotho in 2009 and established her own consultancy: Ska’s Kitchen Culinary Studio, through which she works with a number of local businesses. Currently, she is Executive Chef and General Manager of Motherland Guest House in Thaba Tseka.
In 2013, her self-published cookbook Cuisine of the Mountain Kingdom – Cooking in Lesotho won the Best African Cookbook in the World Award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris, France. The cookbook documents a number of traditional Sesotho recipes which had never before been available in print.
Together with three other friends, she founded Flava of Africa, a charity that organises food events that fundraise money for school agricultural programs, while promoting healthy eating and the use of local ingredients. In May 2013, Flava of Africa held a fundraising dinner at Maseru Sun Cabanas which succeeded in raising over M20 000 for three local schools.
In recognition of her work, Moteane was recently invited by Slow Food International to attend an International Food Expo in Torino, Italy in October 2014. This led to the launch of an annual event in Lesotho in celebration of Terra Madre Day, a day that recognises and celebrates the importance of small-scale responsible and sustainable food production.
Moteane is also involved in Slow Food International’s 10,000 Gardens in Africa Project, which will allocate small grants to 10 community gardens in Lesotho. In April 2014, Flava of Africa delivered a number of tools to St. Leo Primary School in Ha Makhoathi, the first community garden to receive a grant.
Moteane feels strongly about the importance of supporting the local farming industry. She explains: “As restaurant owners or chefs, it is our responsibility to plan our menus according to what is available seasonally, because it’s fresher, tastier, and more nutritious. If we could all do that, I think the farming industry in this country would boom.”
Originally from Thaba Tseka, Moteane has a special interest in facilitating entrepreneurship opportunities for women in rural areas.
“Women from rural areas are the most disadvantaged when it comes to entrepreneurship. Limited technology, education, and the difficulties of finding time for work, family and raising capital are some of the challenges that they face in order to become economically self-sufficient.”
“We need more projects and workshops that empower women in Lesotho to become entrepreneurs. It is difficult for women in the rural areas to be exposed to such opportunities, so they need to be met halfway.”
“My message to other women would be: do not wait until you are older. Do not wait for your children to have finished school. We do have a responsibility to look after our families, but you can find a balance. Go into business while you still have the energy for it. Start now.”