Wednesday, 18 August 2010

New Mega Venue Hits Camden




By Philippa Morton.

I take pride in my African heritage. Having lived away from Africa for many years, on my odd returns I realise how much I forget the abundance of life there. From insects to fruit, everything seems to be oversized – picture spiders as large as my hand and avocados the size of a small rugby ball or cabbages as big as a basketball. The continent itself is enormous, and despite the abundance and sheer enormity of the flora and fauna, the irony persists: Africa starves. But for a fleeting moment, Africa’s complications can be forgotten in a fantasy; Camden’s Shaka Zulu has successfully actualised.

A cavernous entry way down an escalator opens out to an immense chamber bearing African tribe paraphernalia. Richly coloured furnishings mirror Africa’s diversity and indeed, the rainbow nation of South Africa itself. Ear candy forms in deep rhythmic grooves of African drums. Spellbinding. I wanted to transform myself into one of those beautiful African dancers with their Isidwaba (traditional skirt) and bare breasts. Don’t think I’d be too hot with the footwork though... oh what the heck – I’d be better off bathing bare breasted on the beach of Barcelona.

The restaurant itself is downstairs and although there were supposed to be canap├ęs served, I saw only one plate in the distance far away. The menu however looks pretty lekker (yummy) and the restaurant named aptly ‘Braai’. I am very impressed with the research and the produce used, in particularly the meat which is authentically African such as ostrich, boerewors and more ostrich. MMMmmm - can’t wait to get a bite into that meaty magnificence.

There are three main bars to choose from. I was unimpressed to find that there was no Zulu Beer on the menu. Nonetheless, a cocktail served the same purpose. My palate for cocktails has become more refined through the years. Ho hum. That is all I have to say about that.

The whole event appeared to be somewhat disorganised. My counterpart and I arrived early and got ourselves a nice spot to park. A few hours into it, the whole table and myself were suddenly sitting at a ‘reserved’ table and we were all told to move away (maybe so celebrities such as Sophie Anderton, Liz McClarnon and Amy Winehouse could use it?). The same usher continued his work by removing my friends from their spot downstairs in the name of ‘reservation’, and proceeded to spill a glass of red wine on my friend’s £100 white shirt; with hardly an offer of apology he retorted ‘well my suit cost £1500’. Where is the friendly African hospitality Saffas are so well known for? Utterly disappointing. So, while Africa starves, we argue about suits. Ho hum. In Shaka Zulu’s defence, however, I am suitably delighted to see their powerful contribution to charities in South Africa, having liaised with the current Zulu King himself.

Despite the disappointing hospitality and disorganised launch, I won’t ‘dis’ Shaka Zulu altogether (fellow Saffas, you know what I mean). Well done, genius behind Shaka Zulu. You have done well to achieve a high end, classy club resembling Kwazulu Natal’s culture thoroughly.

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