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A taste of wild Botswana

Publishing Date : 13 May, 2019

Author : BOIPELO TAPOLOGO

Archives of Botswana government inform that “Batswana have from time immemorial depended on natural resources occurring in their localities to improve food security and rural inhabitants in possess knowledge of seasonal availability of wild edible fruits, vegetables and protein intakes, however changes in cultural lifestyles, reduction in biodiversity due to population explosion, deforestation and climate changes have contributed to a decline in the consumption of these”, nonetheless street marketers like Mmeeki Keaboka uprightly held on to the sales of some of the edibles provided by the wilds.


Keaboka shares with WeekendLife that she  dropped out of school in the year 1993 and has never had any formal employment, and in order to sustain herself she sold tomatoes and onions but there was no growth in the business which saw her from the year 2014 moving to the capital city Gaborone, tucked strategically for overflow of customers she sells wild edibles that includes, okra leaves, mopane worms she catches herself in the wild of her home village Tutume which is the northern part of Botswana. Though the mopane tree grows only on the northern part, the worm is widely savored across the country.


In addition to the edibles, Keaboka also sells herbal roots also found in the wild as she explains that most of them are used for medicinal purposes. The most famous herbal root she shares is the monepenepe scientific name –long tail cassia, sjambok pod or wild Senna, is a small to medium sized deciduous tree with a broad trunk covered in bark that ranges from dark brown to grey and sometimes black. “Most of my monepenepe clients are women who suffer from intense menstrual cramps and it also assists in erectile dysfunctions as it flushes out toxins from the body,” she prescribes.


Based in Kolonkwaneng, about 70km outside Tsabong is Dinah Botha who produces coffee made from the roots of motlopi tree, another wild product. Her business started in the year 2007 as a past time but today she is in talks on expansion to sell in local retail stores and reaches out for the support of Batswana to buy her product especially for its nutritional value.


“I’m proud to say that my coffee has been tested and given the green light by the National Food Technology Research Center(NAFTRC) and the Ministry of Health National Food Control Laboratory,” the coffee is 100% natural. Botha urges for local support and advises to buy local products as that creates employment in the country. “When I eventually get space in retail outlets, I will employ more people as I will have to produce more.” She also thanked institutions like LEA and Brand Botswana for continuously capacitating her and giving an opportunity to exhibit her product at different platforms for local appreciation, as gathered by the archives of Botswana government.


Culture, dress code, food are centerpieces of a country and just like eating food with your hands, there is unexplainable magic in food that has been prepared by firewood as compared to using an electric stove or a gas burner as saw Oaitse Chamme, an entrepreneur and co-owner of size 10 together with Gaone Dickson struck gold in a pot -pun intended, when they tapped into the cuisine market and had their food cooked in the famously used in most African gatherings, the three legged pot ‘poto’, in this case preferably size 10.

It’s the whole concept from preparation using the mopane tree firewood  until delivery of  meals that sets the size 10 menu apart from other tswana  traditional cuisine servers. Chamme shares that there are weekly deliveries of the mopane tree firewood they use for cooking as they wanted the flavor of their food to represent a taste of the wild.


The mopane tree firewood collected in the wild is the essence that brings out the unique flavor in their food proving that the wild still holds down to its authentic provision of bringing out a distinct taste.

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