Before the mid-1930s, it was difficult for black women to find work in the formal sector as domestic service tended to be reserved for men.
As a result, some women sought economic independence through the informal sector and turned to beer-brewing, or ran shebeens.
Eusebius Mckaiser spoke to shebeen queen and Gauteng Liquor Forum chairperson Fanny Mokoena, as well as historian Anne Mager, to reflect on some of challenges of the business.
As a shebeen queen you have to earn your respect in the community, show people you are a responsible trader.— Fanny Mokoena, shebeen queen and Gauteng Liquor Forum chairperson
Don't sell liquor to an intoxicated person. I have been a shebeen queen since 1988, that is when I got my tavern licence. All these years I have gathered women, come up with groupings, women in the liquor trade to say to women let us get together, let us make this industry better.— Fanny Mokoena, shebeen queen and Gauteng Liquor Forum chairperson
The issues around licensing and becoming a licensed shebeen are immense. Shebeen queens struggle with the challenges that are needed to transform their front rooms or backyards into facilities that meet with regulations and that struggle has been going since the 1980s.— Anne Mager, historian at UCT
Editor of Spotong SA’s No. 1 Township Trade Magazine, Charlene Heyburgh, says there are still misconceptions about taverns.
It is completely different to what the majority thinks. I have been to many taverns, everything has got it's place. It is neat, you sit and have a meal, the shebeen queens will make sure you line your stomach first before you get drunk.— Charlene Heyburgh, Editor of Spotong SA’s No. 1 Township Trade Magazine
Click on the link below to listen to the full discussion...
This article first appeared on 702 : Veteran shebeen queen opens up about her success and empowering township women