Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, samples the delicacies that showcases the baking mastery of MEMORY MASEBENZA…

“A slice of heaven on a plate, 

A confection so divine, 

A treat for the eyes and for the taste, 

A cake, oh so benign.

With layers so soft and frosting so sweet, 

It brings a smile to every face, 

A simple joy, a small treat, 

A delight in this world so full of pace.

So raise a fork and take a bite, 

And let the flavours dance and soar, 

For cakes are a gift of pure delight, 

That leaves us wanting just a little more…”

This is a general poem whose author is anonymous which highlights the beauty and joy that cakes bring to our lives, showcasing the simple yet profound pleasures that they can offer. Whether it’s the soft, fluffy texture of the cake itself, or the sweetness of the frosting, cakes have the ability to bring happiness and delight to people of all ages. The reference to a slice of heaven and a treat for the eyes and taste further underscores the importance of cakes in our lives, reminding us of the beauty and wonder that they bring to our special moments.

This poem eloquently captures the poetics and the magic that Memory Masebenza bakes. “Absolutely, beauty and baked cakes have a long and complex relationship that is rooted in the cultural and societal norms of different communities,” says Memory giving us her toothpaste smile. “From special events such as weddings and many celebrations as birthdays and romantic dinners to everyday life, baked cakes have been a staple of human existence for centuries, providing not only sustenance but also joy, comfort, and aesthetic appeal.”

Memory is a baker and owner of Mellow Crafts Cakes which is a home-based bakery after the proverbial entrepreneurial bug bit her in 2020. “My specialisation is in all things baked,” she says with humility spiced with a tinge of self-confidence and pride. “My passion, creativity and love for crafts can be seen on how exquisite all my products look and taste.”

Memory is one of those who give the country hope for a better future. Currently, the narrative is quite depressing to say the least. According to the Centre for Risk Analysis, out of 1074788 who started grade 2 in 2012, only 580555 passed matric in 2022 – this constitute only 54% and not the 80.1% that was actually reported to the media, and so this was emphasised by educational specialist, Prof Jonathan Jansen.  What is even more worrying is that only fewer than 40% of those who passed could be allowed to pursue higher education. Hold your breath, of these fewer than 40% who git bachelor’s pass, many May have passed 4 subjects at 50% and 2 at 30% to get it. Basically the future for our youth is bleak.

That’s why we pin our hopes on such youths as Memory. After matriculating at Polokwane’s Florapark Comprehensive High School in 2005, Memory packed her bags and headed to Johannesburg where she pursued a Diploma in Travel and Tourism Management at the prestigious Rosebank College which she completed in 2007.

To gain practical experience and to hone her skills in hospitality, she joined Devenish Guesthouse as a Receptionist and Administrator in Polokwane where she worked from 2010 to 2014. “This was exciting time because Polokwane was at the time serving as one of the host cities of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It was such a privilege for one to be in this sector during the world’s most prestigious soccer spectacle.”

Her competencies included ensuring  clients are properly greeted upon their arrival; actively listening to and resolve customer’s issues that may arise; screening telephone calls and billing queries; making and monitoring daily bookings and ensuring assigned rooms are prepared prior to check-in; promptly addressing guests’ requests, such as in-room dining; liaising with Housekeepers and Kitchen Staff to provide an overall comfortable guest experience; storeroom management, ordering of stock and stock-taking; ensuring that maintenance is in good order in the guesthouse reception and guest rooms; making sure that coffee/tea and milk sachets are refilled daily; managing lost and found box; drafting reports; coordinating and managing communication between guests and staff and making follow ups to ensure we resolved customer concerns; informing clients of our Guesthouse services, including breakfast and dining options; completing shift checklists to ensure the Guesthouse information is updated and team members are prepared for the daily activities; taking minutes; preparing registration forms and ensuring that they are complete and information is accurate ahead of guest arrival; ensuring that payment for the guest booking has been received and allocated correctly on the booking system; acquiring knowledge of the relevant legislations, policies and procedures; and maintaining the guesthouse files and databases and handling overall administrative work around the guesthouse. 

Her mastery of the subject plus her meticulousness as a wordsmith saw her securing a short term contract as a freelance copy editor at the  Independent Institute of Education in Johannesburg. Her subbing duties included editing academic materials in line with the organisations in-house style guide and formatting documents according to the organisations templates (Manuals, Assignments, Tests, and Examinations); proofreading and editing documents so that they are error free grammatically before they go to print; conducting technical quality checks regarding the layout, use of numbering, use of quotation marks, dates, and referencing of the documents according to the in-house style guide; sending edited documents back to the senior editor in a timely manner; and submitting invoices for edited work done as per payroll timelines.

These qualify us to have this discussion with the sassy Memory while we taste her delicacies. Her editing experience empowers her to wax lyrical as she tells us on her journey into baking and then situating it within contexts. “One of the earliest connections between beauty and baked cakes can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where cakes were used as offerings to gods and goddesses as a symbol of wealth, prosperity, and beauty. These cakes were often decorated with intricate designs and embellishments, showcasing the skill and creativity of the bakers and emphasizing the beauty of the cake itself.

“Baked cakes have a significant cultural importance in some African countries, particularly in the celebration of special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and religious festivals. In some communities, baking and sharing cakes is considered a symbol of hospitality and generosity. Additionally, baked cakes can also serve as a source of income for some individuals in African countries, as they can be sold as a traditional snack or dessert. However, it’s worth noting that the significance and use of baked cakes varies among different African communities and regions.

“In some African cultures, the process of baking cakes is also an important social activity, often involving multiple generations of women coming together to share stories, prepare ingredients, and bond over the kitchen work. In West Africa, for example, traditional sponge cakes are a staple of special events and are often flavored with spices, fruits, and nuts that are unique to the region. In other African countries, baking cakes is seen as a way to preserve cultural traditions and pass down recipes from one generation to the next.

“Another way in which beauty and baked cakes are connected is through the use of color and shape. Color has a profound impact on our perceptions of beauty, with different colors evoking different emotions and associations. Baked goods, including cakes, are no exception, with bakers using a variety of colors and shapes to create visually appealing desserts that are both beautiful and delicious.

“Additionally, the use of texture and material is also an important aspect of the relationship between beauty and baked cakes. With the rise of alternative baking methods and ingredients, bakers are able to create baked goods that are not only delicious but also visually stunning, using materials such as chocolate, fondant, and marzipan to create beautiful, intricate designs.”

One can’t overemphasise the economic significance of the baking sector. The bakery sector is a significant contributor to the country’s GDP, employing thousands of people and providing a source of income for many families. “That’s why I invest all my resources into this business so that I could be able to create employment particularly for the youth. I also plan to develop learnerships so that I could partner with the sectoral education and training authorities (SETAs) to train unemployed but talented youths to enter this sector.

“With a rich history and tradition of using local ingredients, African baked cakes offer unique flavours and textures that are not commonly found in other parts of the world. This has led to the development of a thriving bakery industry that exports African baked goods to international markets, thereby promoting the cultural heritage of African countries on a global scale.”

The princess has big dreams for her baking kraal. “My goals and ambitions involve growing the company from which I can continue to learn and take additional responsibilities and contribute as much value as possible. Yes, I want to make a difference in the lives of many youths and my community. This is about changing the narrative…”

See the artist at work by clicking here.


For more information, please email Memory Masebenza on memorymasebenza68@gmail.com

Follow her on Instagram by clicking here.

Follow Mellow Craft Cakes on Instagram by clicking here.