Zulu king endorses uMhlanga’s first black-owned eatery

FROM left, Zulu traditional prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi, Mushroom Lounge owner Sibongiseni ‘Mageza’ Mbambo, King Misuzulu and Prince Simphiwe Zulu. | WILLEM PHUNGULA.

FROM left, Zulu traditional prime minister Thulasizwe Buthelezi, Mushroom Lounge owner Sibongiseni ‘Mageza’ Mbambo, King Misuzulu and Prince Simphiwe Zulu. | WILLEM PHUNGULA.

Published Apr 4, 2024


Durban — The first black-owned eatery on uMhlanga’s Chartwell Drive, Mushroom Lounge, received a big shot in the arm after a visit and endorsement by King Misuzulu kaZwelithini on Wednesday.

Accompanied by his traditional prime minister, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, and senior prince Simphiwe Zulu, the king spent a few minutes greeting the staff and the management before being whisked away to another engagement, leaving behind Buthelezi and Prince Simphiwe.

Speaking on behalf of the king, Buthelezi said after His Majesty heard of the eatery and the quality food it was serving, he felt he should come and give the venue and the management his blessings.

Buthelezi said the king was also impressed that the venue was serving traditional food like Zulu boiled chicken, tripe and other traditional foods in an establishment surrounded by diverse cultures.

“The king wants to congratulate the management of Mushroom Lounge and wish them success,” said Buthelezi.

The owner, Sibongiseni “Mageza” Mbambo, said he was grateful to the king and the Zulu traditional prime minister as well as the entire royal family for the visit, adding it was a major boost for his business. Mbambo said when he opened the restaurant he never thought it would one day be visited by His Majesty and his prime minister.

“As a young businessman who has just opened his eatery, I never thought that my place would be visited by the king, especially knowing his busy schedule.

“Today, I am over the moon and am at a loss for words to thank the king and his prime minister.”

Mushroom Lounge owner Sibongiseni Mageza Mbambo said he was blessed to be visited by the king Misuzulu. | Willem Phungula

The eatery, which opened last month, was the first to be owned by a black businessman on upmarket and aspirational Chartwell Drive. Mbambo had promised to bring an “African flavour” to his patrons, adding that the opening of this restaurant in this area was a realisation of his dream as the first black man on the street where all the restaurants are owned by other races.

The eatery has lived up to its promises of bringing an African flavour by introducing Isithebe Friday where traditional food is served on a wooden tray traditionally known as isithebe.

UMhlanga has been “traditionally an affluent area of rich white people with few black people living in and frequenting the area”.

The new restaurateur said he hoped to bring a different look and feel to the already existing clientele in the area with his restaurant, which is “open for everyone across the racial and cultural divide in South Africa’s rainbow nation”.

Mbambo has ventured into hospitality for the first time after a stint in event management.

He is one of the organisers of the popular Maskandi festival, Impucuzeko, which takes place annually at Durban’s Moses Mabhida’s People’s Park.

He also has a hand in the hosting of an annual big picnic called the “Gcwalisa All White Picnic”, which takes place at the Kings Park Stadium outer fields.

The event has an African flavour, with most of the artists being in the Maskandi and Afropop genres.

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