Roosterkoek, rieldans and the love of country

By Erika von Kaschke

Don’t you find it interesting that food and music can transcend cultural and geographic borders, and perhaps give us a shared heritage?

Almost my entire family hails from one of the most arid and isolated landscapes in the world, the Tankwa Karoo, which receives only 75 mm of rain annually. It is here where I learnt how to rieldans, to enjoy roosterkoek, and where my connection to country grew strong.

The riel is an age-old dance of the Khoisan hunters, with distinct Irish and Scottish folk music influences, all performed to boeremusiek. The type of music is not typical boeremusiek (which is mainly played on instruments only), but is best illustrated in this Karoo Kitaar Blues and rieldans competition clips.

Who could have guessed that when we moved to Western Australia that it is here that I would find food and music that would take me back to my own roots, and make me feel a sense of belongingness in WA?

Not only did I get the taste of damper (reminiscent of roosterkoek) and hear the term “country” that means ancestral land, but when hearing Hazara musician Asad Alizada playing the dambora, a traditional instrument for the first time at the World Music Café’s inaugural show at the Gosnells Bowling Club, this love and longing for country that seems to come through in music from isolated and arid places, made me feel at home in Western Australia.

Asad and his family have faced many obstacles to come to Australia, but despite his daily struggle with vision loss, his performances transports listeners to Afghanistan in a time where things were joyous and happy. No one can listen to him perform without a smile lighting up your face. It also transports me back to the Karoo where I can hear the simple melodies played on a castrol tin guitar while people dance around a fire.

The World Music Café continues to offer a space to appreciate one’s own heritage, but also for exploring new musical and culinary experiences with its upcoming online shows. In this physical isolation and digitally connected space we now could find new shared cultural spaces.

Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to hear some of the stories from our participants. That is also the place where you’ll be able to see more about our online shows which will continue to offer our audience a unique musical and culinary experience.