Sharing Culture and Changing Narratives with Afro-Fusion

By Kori Wood

Patience Ncube ’12, ’15, ’18 (Antioch Santa Barbara, BA in Liberal Studies and Antioch Los Angeles, MA in Education, Leadership and Change and MA in Nonprofit Management) wants to make an impact on the world. She highlights that tomorrow is not promised, we only have one life to live; we do not have nine lives like cats. We do not get any “do overs,” thus she wants to take advantage of every opportunity with her one life to make the most impact possible.

Culture and changing narratives, photo of individual

When the Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur talks about what drives her, she always comes back to four basic principles: community, service, food, and culture. For Ncube, owning and operating the first African food delivery and catering service and staging Afro-Fusion pop-ups in Santa Barbara is all about building community and sharing her culture. She wants people to come together in all their uniqueness and diverse backgrounds, eat, have conversations and build community. That is part of what her culture terms as “ubuntu”: loving, honoring and respecting yourself and others around you, and collectively seeking mutually beneficial outcomes. Food has the power to heal and bring people together. Ncube knows its power, and through food she is changing narratives.

What inspired you to create the Afro-Fusion pop-up?

My grandmother and my mom are the best cooks and most industrious women I know. They passed their knowledge and skills down to me. When I cook and share with others, I honor their legacy. I would cook for friends or take meals to church on Sundays to share. I never thought about cooking beyond that. In the 2012 New Venture Challenge, just having African sauces as a product in supermarkets was my goal. Cooking, catering, having a restaurant were not things I ever thought about. Every time I cooked, my friends would comment on how amazing the food was. For me, it was just normal food. Then my friend, who is from Kenya, and I started to hanker for culture. We thought, wouldn’t it be nice if African food and African music could all come together. So we decided to do an Afro-Fusion pop-up. We did our second pop-up during the Black Lives Matter protests. We wanted to build community and provide a place where people could heal and have conversations in a safe space. Even with COVID, we had a huge turnout. That’s when I thought, okay, this is actually a thing.  

What are you working on right now that excites you?

Right now, I’m working on growing my businesses. I’m hoping to have space somewhere where people can sit down, eat, and have the whole African experience. A community starts where important conversations happen, and for me, that’s at the dinner table. Food is all about coming together. It’s part of my culture and who I am as a person. Africans are very colorful people—what we eat, what we wear, and
the music that moves our souls and directs our lives is also very crucial. I am very passionate about my continent. It inspires me, and I carry it everywhere I go. As Africans, we are more than the melanin on our skin, more than our assigned poverty and the corrupt governance that characterize our nations. We are more than the caricatures depicted in mass media. We are certainly much, much more than subjects of empire as relegated by others. We are human beings, people, flesh and blood. I love who I am and take pride in it.  

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I would say it’s from my grandmother. She is my hero. I remember her telling me all the time to get an education because no one can ever take that away from you. She also told me to work hard and always be yourself. Be true to who you are and remember the legacy you come from—the stock of women who gave birth to you. My grandmother expressed those ideas vocally, and she also lived them. So I heard it and saw it. I’m just grateful for the opportunities that I have. Any opportunity that comes my way, I will grab it with both hands and feet, and I will run it, whatever direction it takes me, as long as I am making an impact and changing lives for the better.

Oxtail Stew

Ingredients

  • 2lbs free-range oxtail
  • thumb size ginger
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers 
  • (or to taste—optional)
  • fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika 
  • 2 boxes beef broth
  • 2 seasoning cubes 
  • (Knorr or Maggi)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder 
  • 1 can butter beans (optional)

Instructions

  • Marinate oxtail with 1/3 of the spices, 1 chopped onion, and a handful of fresh finely chopped cilantro. 
  • Marinate overnight.
  • When ready to cook, brown oxtail on all sides.
  • Blend remaining onions,red peppers, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, and scotch bonnets.
  • Pour over browned oxtail.
  • Add remaining 2/3 of spices and seasoning cubes to the oxtail and sautée for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add 2 boxes of beef broth, let it simmer (adding water as needed) until all the liquid cooks down to a nice, thick sauce and the meat is soft.
  • Simmer for about 2.5 to 3 hours total.
  • Add butter beans 5 minutes before meat is done cooking.
  • Add chopped cilantro. 
Kori Wood

Kori Wood

Kori Wood '19 (Antioch Los Angeles, MFA) earned a BA in English with a focus in literary theory. She is a former editor-in-chief of Lunch Ticket and a 2018 Los Angeles Book Review Fellow. Her work has appeared in Grist: A Journal of the Literary Arts, Passages North, The Emerson Review, Tiferet Journal, Fresh.Ink, and others.
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