For the love of people…Kuzo Dasa-Pieterse
A People-Centric Culture, Eats Strategy For Breakfast – For the Love of People…
Hospitality at Home:
Hospitality for me comes from memories of my childhood. It was characterised by selflessness, nurturing, generosity and respect; by a desire to make another feel special. I’ve had memorable experiences visiting my great-grandmother eMphekweni in what we grew up calling ‘eMaxhoseni’, which basically meant, where the Xhosa’s live/come from. This was actually eNgqushwa, or Peddie. This is where I noticed much less of a colonial influence than I observed in Kwazakhele and Steiltes. Things were more traditional here. My great-grandmother showed hospitality that was almost boundless and unconditional and constantly expressed, even to strangers. It was said that she was born in the 1800s. I didn’t believe it, until I saw her ID. It said 1900. When I asked my mother why that was, she told me that at the time my great-grandmother registered to get her identification, many years after her birth, there was no certificate to prove her exact date of birth, so she was given the date that was closest (perhaps more reasonable) to the date at the time.
Great-grandmother (Dideka No-Amen Mkhaliphi) had a large garden with different vegetables, mostly corn, which she shared with the village. They shared other things with her too. All without anyone asking. Real community, real hospitality, in my mind. Considering someone’s needs before they say so. This is not something that was as common in bigger towns, from the little I knew growing up in them. Everyone lived a life a bit more secluded.
From this powerful woman who did everything for herself at over 100 years old, daily, I learnt resilience, compassion, and how to truly let things slide.
She used to teach me Xhosa words that no-one still used. I’d ask her to tell me stories about her memories as a young child. No-one has ever made me want to share history as much. To get the stories from someone who lived through them, made me feel more present in those moments. These stories, and some folklore, taught me who I was. They taught me where we came from, what we represented, and what to aspire to being. They were tales, but they were a lot more. They were lessons. Gifts of love. These lessons were compounded by my mother, who brought the food of the African diaspora to life. There is so much depth in food that the exploration thereof was as fascinating as the history behind what was on the plate, the people who made it, and why. My palate was always as eager as my mind… to learn, to explore, and to tease.
My experience in real estate allowed me to truly get to know people within a brief period. I had to learn quickly what questions to ask, to assess their needs and wants, and how to differentiate between the two. Anyone can learn to sell. But it takes desire and heart to focus on people, instead of transactions.
“Treating people how they want to be treated instead of how you want to be treated.”
Within practicing Ubuntu, I seek to explore and embrace our connectivity, with our environment and with ourselves.
I have embraced and have been embraced by this feeling while at eDikeni in Sandton. A place that offers quality and is as a whole, a dialogue where everyone plays a part. This dialogue between the ingredients in the food, the ingredients in the team, the ingredients in the ambiance, the music and the decor, shows in the journey that leads to the Ubuntu experience one would come to expect. eDikeni is also where we have created, for you, a place of comfort for dialogue with other guests, to make new friendships, forge new bonds, and discuss business, politics, food, life, family, or even physics or finance if you choose. Where you can be authentic. Where you can eat with your fingers or with a fork. We are people first, and roles second. It’s a safe space that nurtures and welcomes you, at home, and outside of home.
I see Lereko’s vision as in a sense attempting to slightly readjust one’s preconceptions about what it means to dine with heritage. To create the experience the guest needs and exceed expectations by acknowledging each other’s humanity – each and every time. It is an honour for me to share this experience and vision.
Ritz Carlton: “Ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.”
eDikeni, the team understands that we are individuals in a collective. Each one plays a part that is specific but diverse. We are connected also as a group of people who are focused and determined to bring our guests a great experience.
We hire individuals that can be part of this team. Ones who share similar beliefs about uBuntu. Ones with a desire to help, passion to please, to host and with a high hospitality quotient. Ones with accountability.
We’ll then develop that passion and desire with training and skills development. This helps our people take ownership by being the guest advocate, which in turn enables prompt problem resolution where possible, and thus less frustration and more customer satisfaction for our guests. I serve the guests as well as the team. Every little positive effort compounds the benefits in this hosting revolution.
We look for people, personality, attitude… not positions. We choose our team, and they choose us.
We all seek opportunities to shine. My vision and hope is to constantly encourage that.
Working in the service industry can be challenging. There was a study done at Vanderbilt University that said “over 40% of customers do not return to businesses that satisfy them”. Hospitality at the foundation is nothing more than acknowledging each other’s humanity. This is what we at eDikeni aim to do daily, because WE SEE YOU!
I hope to see you soon, I hope to hear your stories, and build new bonds of friendship, family and sharing.