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Return to Transcripts main pageANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWNAnthony Bourdain Parts Unknown: South AfricaAired November 3, 2013 - 20:00 ETTHIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST: They don't look friendly. Who are those -- anyway. Some ugly Dutch guys it looks like with guns. I'm guessing particularly friendly to the current power. They look like they're going to or coming from oppressing a black man. First order of business, man. When I take my country back, first order of business is to take that -- down. Am I right or what? I'm kind of amazed. Tear that (INAUDIBLE) down. (MUSIC)BOURDAIN: In July 2013, when I went to South Africa, 95-year-old Nelson Mandela was critically ill. And the country he freed from white minority rule was already in mourning. And already fearful of what the future might be without him. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's really, really sad because the world still needs him. He's the guy who fought for our freedom. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I pray that he -- somebody takes the baton from him. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wish him a speedy recovery. And come back to his people. BOURDAIN: So a good friend of mine, a really great travel writer, said something. The more I travel the less I know. I feel that particularly strongly here in South Africa, a place I came in a state of near total ignorance, loaded with preconceptions. For the first part of my life, the South Africa I knew was not a happy place or a good place. It was a pariah state. Surrealistically, outrageously divided into black and white. A throwback to attitudes we thought we'd long learned to reject. The nationalist government in South Africa enacted apartheid laws in 1948. Who you could marry. Where you lived. Where you could walk, be educated. Everything decided by racist laws backed by police, army and secret services. The institutionalized racial discrimination was designed to maintain white minority power and economically suppress the black and mixed race South Africans who lived in townships, mostly in poverty. In 1923, the African National Congress was born. By 1961, it had been radicalized by the influence of a young Nelson Mandela, among others, and formed an armed wing called the Spear of the Nation. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you see Africans being able to develop in this country without the Europeans being pushed out? NELSON MANDELA, FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT: We have made it very clear in our policy that South Africa is a country of many races. There is room for all the various races. BOURDAIN: In 1963, Mandela was charged with sabotage and conspiracy and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robin Island. It would take another 27 years of violence and injustice before the inevitable would happen. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe in apartheid? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that according to God's will that the white race should be preserved. BOURDAIN: South Africa's white minority under international sanctions, internal political pressure and the decline of the communist threat, Mandela was we released from prison in 1990. In '94, he was elected president of the new, free South Africa. There have been very few figures in the entire history of the world as revered or as important as Nelson Mandela. But the question is, what happens next? Johannesburg or Joe burg or Josie. The largest city by population in South Africa. And the economic powerhouse of the country. Southwest of Johannesburg, Soweto. Originally an acronym for southwestern townships. Now the area is considered a suburb. In 2010, South Africa played host to the World Cup. The BLK JKS who played for the opening celebration are a Soweto based band. They are also, not surprisingly, soccer fans. We're here on game day. A grudge match in a country where soccer approaches religion. You can feel it in Soweto or rather you can see it as everywhere you look people show their love for either the local Orlando Pirates or the Johannesburg Kaiser Chiefs. Mawilies Inn. A typical local joint in Soweto. The perfect place to watch a game, talk about a game, drink yourself silly over the results of a game, or just have a very fine local style meal. It is, however, a little hard to find. There are a lot of places like this? I mean, this used to be the garage or the carport, right? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Definitely. BOURDAIN: In what was once a garage are now six tables. A lawn turned lounge out back. Closed on Sundays if grandma's visiting. These kinds of bars were born during apartheid times when black South Africans not allowed to own businesses in white areas adapted and improvised. They did their own thing. Created these little micro, under the official radar restaurants known around here as eat houses. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in the days, obviously, it was illegal. BOURDAIN: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: During apartheid. So they will have meetings to actually plan what they're going to do. BOURDAIN: Right. So this would be considered a hotbed of sedition and -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Exactly. BOURDAIN: Now it's just a hot bed of drinking and -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Different kind of sedition. (LAUGHTER)BOURDAIN: Mpumi and Tshepang from the BLK JKS have just finished watching the game when I join them for some food. Generally speaking, are these good times in South Africa? Bad times? Transitional times? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, 1994 was the peak of the good time in South Africa. Then now with the other politics, you know, other parties fighting, it's quite tense right now. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not like it was before where everybody's -- you know, it's black and white. Literally. BOURDAIN: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, like, we're unified on this and they're unified on that. BOURDAIN: These days, the party that freed the country from white rule, the ANC, is not universally loved anymore. In recent years they've been criticized for inaction, corruption and cronyism. And opposition parties are gaining strength. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anything that's maybe new to us. BOURDAIN: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I think we're trying to navigate new reality. Like how do you deal with so many opinions? You know, the party that you loved the whole time, that brought about this freedom, is fumbling the ball. So what do you do? BOURDAIN: Right. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because in democracy, you should act. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's the smileys for snack. BOURDAIN: Smileys. Fire roasted sheep's head. Lips shriveled back in a joker like rectus of deliciousness. Chopped into tasty, tasty bits and eaten with cold beer? Yes, of course, yes. Just needs a little salt and pepper. Good stuff. That looks good. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. This is pap. BOURDAIN: What is it? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like maize. BOURDAIN: Pap or meal pap. A sticky porridge made from ground corn meal. It fills the role that grits do in the American south. Rice in much of Asia. It's tasty, relatively nutritious and cheap filler. And it sops up gravy when you have something like this stewed beef real good. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's traditional dumpling. BOURDAIN: That's a dumpling? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Not really like other dumplings. BOURDAIN: Dumplings. Important throughout the African Diaspora. Made with flour and yeast. A spongy, bread type tool for mop-it-up sauce. Stewed greens, carrots, beans and more gravy. Wow. That's awesome. So tell me about your band. How long have you guys been together? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About 10 years now. BOURDAIN: Whoa. A long time. (LAUGHTER)UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. BOURDAIN: Would you say you were an indie band? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well -- BOURDAIN: Is there an indie theme -- what I guess I'm getting at, is there a -- is there a -- I was kind of getting there. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of South African street culture, people are really pushing the boundaries now. We didn't really have a theme when we started. You look around. It's like, man, like demographic is crazy. BOURDAIN: What do you mean by that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just racial, but classes, you know. And people are being pushed and then pulled. It's like an aspirational culture. BOURDAIN: What do you think that means? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole rainbow nation notion was quite romantic and ridiculous. You know, like racism is not on a piece of paper. Just because we voted it out doesn't mean people stop being racist. It's ridiculous in that sense. But we've lived something else for 20 years. People want it. It's no longer like a coffee table idea. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)SANZA SANDILE, SOUTH AFRICAN CHEF: Respect money maker. One love, man. BOURDAIN: This is Sanza Sandile. Pioneer of sorts. He's taken a traditional cook shop space in the Yoville neighborhood of Johannesburg and done something different. Yoville is a neighborhood where just about everybody comes from somewhere else. SANDILE: I came here around 10 years ago from Soweto. Up in Soweto. And when we heard about the bells of change, we all ran to the central part of the city. BOURDAIN: With the end of apartheid and the emergence of Mandela as not just an inspirational figure but the beginning of real and compassionate black African government, South Africa became a beacon and a refuge for millions of Africans from all over the continent. Black South Africans fought hard for their freedom and their country. As I understand a lot of them are pretty pissed off about hey, we're just getting our (EXPLETIVE DELETED) together and whoa, all these Congolese and Nigerians, well, you know, they're coming here. SANDILE: Of course there's going to be that. BOURDAIN: Right. SANDILE: Giving and taking, you know. And then people have been saying, Mandela is going to die, we want to keep all these people away. BOURDAIN: Right. SANDILE: You know, that's not what our people are all about. And then now that's when I took, you know, the tour of food because that first way to engage. BOURDAIN: Sanza has no formal culinary training. He's completely self-taught. Picking up bits and pieces where he can. Often from the women in the neighborhood. So you're plucking the best of everybody's culinary culture. SANDILE: Every day. Every day I learn. What are you eating? Where you from? I've been taught by some men. That's not how it's cooked at home, you know? BOURDAIN: Right. SANDILE: Go to that auntie. To the back of some dingy club. There's a small kitchen. Look, there, it'll be nice. Hey, auntie, you know, and then that's me. Hey, auntie, you know, I'm really keen on how you make your particular sauce. BOURDAIN: They'll show you? SANDILE: They show me stuff. I pick up. Then I rush back to the shop and I try it out. So I've got all the elements. BOURDAIN: At his cook shop he mixes recipes, ingredients, techniques and traditions as he sees fit. One reviewer described his style as gastronomic smuggling. Moving people across borders with dishes that slightly partake of elsewhere. On today's menu it -- SANDILE: I made this for you. This is egusi and beef at traditional Nigerian dish. BOURDAIN: OK. SANDILE: They usually use cow leg. BOURDAIN: Beef stewed with melon and pumpkin seeds. There's futu. The ubiquitous cornmeal porridge but made to a texture more crumbly than pap. SANDILE: This is Basamati rice with rose water. It's aubergines and mangoes. They're pickled. And this is with cassava in it from the Congolese. BOURDAIN: Like (INAUDIBLE) with cassava. SANDILE: Cassava. This is (INAUDIBLE). BOURDAIN: Right. Good taste. Oh, yes. Awesome. Good food here. Menu change every day? SANDILE: That's our idea. BOURDAIN: You're doing a lot of great food in a small space. There were no seats. His customers remain part of the constantly unfolding street theater of Yoville. They mingle, talk, observe. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots of people, lots of stories pass through here. Lots of culture interaction. Because everybody's got something interesting to say as far as we're concerned. SANDILE: Because food, I knew food is a way to engage. Got to put something in your mouth to get your ears open, you know. BOURDAIN: Across town, another pioneer of sorts. An urban settler in a very different neighborhood. This is Hillbrow. A notoriously dangerous district. And this is Deejay Lez. DEEJAY LEZ, MUSICIAN: When I came here, I always dreamed of being a musician. I see myself singing in front of huge crowds, you know, making money in the process. That's what I dreamt about. BOURDAIN: He spins records and promotes acts and events in nightclubs. We meet in his favorite spot. Sympathy's Restaurant. What's good? What do you like? That looks good. Is that fried chicken? DEEJAY LEZ: I love -- that's the fried chicken. BOURDAIN: The place is heavy with the smell of frying chicken, stewing greens. Walk right up. Place your order. And be sure to get some mill pap. Heaped on a plate with beats and coleslaw that's a nice, heavy base. So tell me about the neighborhood. DEEJAY LEZ: When I first came, it was rough, my friend. BOURDAIN: Before '92, it was like white business district? Residential district? DEEJAY LEZ: Back then, it used to be clean. Used to be respected. BOURDAIN: Once Hillbrow was an elite whites-only center of town. But when things started to change, so did Hillbrow. Becoming one of the first gray areas where whites and blacks mixed. Hillbrow became aspirational. A symbol of everything black Africans had long been denied. But was now accessible. People poured in in large numbers. Many of them squatters from all over the continent. DEEJAY LEZ: People come here, they come here with one intention. Making a living. Making money. Started coming here. BOURDAIN: White landlords and tenants simply walked away from their property. The disenfranchised who moved in legally, semilegally, illegally or just squatting, an influx of gangs and criminal organizations, the area soon slipped into anarchy. DEEJAY LEZ: There's a saying around here. OK? That this building's been hijacked. BOURDAIN: Entire building were seized to become super stores for illicit drug operations. Everything that could go wrong, did. DEEJAY LEZ: People make a living from different things. Some day (INAUDIBLE) people to make a living. Some they sell their bodies. Sometimes things aren't always according to what you plan. This is where I live. This is where my life is. I'll show you. BOURDAIN: We walk down the street and one of the many enterprises doing business on corners and in doorways around us becomes alarmed at the sight of our cameras. Soon there's a mob of very angry people coming our way. We do not turn around our cameras for obvious reasons. These days things are slowly, slowly improving. DEEJAY LEZ: But before, we wouldn't walk this freely. Now we are free. BOURDAIN: There's actual law enforcement going on in fits and starts. And that's making a difference. Black owned legitimate businesses have gained a real foothold. There are new revitalization projects like farmer's markets springing up. Buildings are being reclaimed. And people here hope that Hillbrow is past the bad old days. DEEJAY LEZ: There's no fear now. You have to relax. To work. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)BOURDAIN: What's in a name? If the name is Soweto, you best believe it means plenty. This is Madu. For over a decade he's been in what has at times been the very difficult business of driving a taxi. You should probably know that the word taxi in Soweto means something a little different than, say, New York. MADU, TAXI DRIVER: Sixty percent of the population is using taxi. BOURDAIN: How many taxis in Johannesburg? MADU: I would say more than a million. BOURDAIN: This coming from a potential passenger means Soweto. Also this and this. Johannesburg has an elaborate system of hand signals indicating desired routes of travel. So you're looking at the hand signals and said, OK, I'm not going there, I'm not going there. MADU: I'm looking at the hand signals. BOURDAIN: In 1994 Soweto came into being as a less benign version of the housing project. It was designed as workers lodging. A place to put black laborers comfortably removed from white society. A ghetto. By the 1950s it had become the center of resistance to white rule. Synonymous with the struggle against the whole rotten racist system. MADU: I remember one day the situation was so bad in such a way that my mother had to put me inside a box where we put shoes and hide me there, under the bed. This is where I grew up, most of the time. And sometimes you would get bullied. There was this time two guys were following me. They lifted me up and I had probably some few coing in my pocket and just turned me around. Just to shake me. BOURDAIN: Shake you upside down?