Talking point | South Africa

Roast meat and rugby

South Africa's passion for barbecuing unites all social classes. The award-winning writer Dalmon Galgut talks us through the social gathering which has deep cultural roots
In the portrait Damon Galgut wears a blue and white checkered shirt, he smiles into the camera.

Damon Galgut is a playwright and author who received the 2021 Booker Prize

A “braai” - which means “roast” in Afrikaans - is a typical South African barbecue. It's a classic moment where people gather around a charcoal grill, eat meat, drink beer and talk, for example about rugby.

For a vegetarian like me, there's sometimes a meat substitute thrown onto the grill. In addition, the Afrikaans word “braaivleis”, meaning “roast meat” or “meat roasting”, also appears in pop culture. In the 1970s and 1980s, when the apartheid regime made people believe that everything was fine in the country, you would often hear a car commercial on the radio with the slogan: “Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet.”

There was a good reason that I set one scene at a braai in my book “The Promise”.