Food Preparation in Fransfontein

(Jorries Seibeb & Francois Dawids)


Food is a daily need. Just like trees need water and fertilizer to be able to grow and bear fruit, our bodies need food to grow and be healthy. Most Fransfonteiners practice livestock farming. For those without livestock, communal farmers come to Fransfontein and sell their products, e.g. meat and milk. Some community-members also exercise crop-farming on a small scale and only for their own consumption. Members of the community also engage themselves in small and medium enterprises, selling fruits, vegetables, meat, sweets, tobacco and ice-cubes.

Ways of Acquiring Foods

Fig 1: Women selling jabula
Most of the people living in the Fransfontein communal area are farmers. They sell their livestock to buy food for themselves. Unemployed community-members often depend on elder kin and their monthly government pension. In this way, they are sharing food bought by the elders.
People also sell a traditional-beer called jabula and tobacco. There are also small-scale crop-farmers in Fransfontein, and whenever there is a surplus of produce, they sell it to generate some income. It is also the norm in our community to share food through a process called “Augu”. Otto /Uriab’s chapter on sharing describes “Augu” in detail. People exchange food by giving to one another or asking from one another. One can also sustain oneself by going to neighbors and asking for basic food such as sugar or maize-meal to make porridge. Some residents of Fransfontein have families working at commercial farms and in towns who support them through money.

Types of Traditional Foods

In Fransfontein and its surrounding areas, one also finds different types of traditional foods. These are still consumed today. Most of these foods are collected. However, these foods can also be categorized according to seasons. Table 2 presents the different fruits and their local names.

English Herero Khoekhoe
White veld mushrooms Omajova Nau-i/ Lau-i
Berries Ozombapu #Âu
Wild grapes, with soft exterior Omanjembere #Ama-#âudi
Edible sweet rubber Omapia Heiran
Wild potatoes Ovihakautu vio mokuti !Garo !eiadi
Witgat-tree fruit Ozonguindi /Hunin
Sweet product, found on the
mopani-tree, looks like a honeycomb
Oututji Namen
Wild-figs Ovivyana yomokuti !Garob-vyadi
Table 2: Different fruits and their local names

Fig 2: Cooking
Food Preparation and Consumption

In Fransfontein, meals are usually eaten in the morning, between 10 o’clock and 12 o’clock, and in the afternoon, between 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. Usually, these meals are only shared by the household members, with maybe an occasional visitor. Sometimes, one household will also “augu” with another household, by dishing out an extra plate and sending it over to the neighbors. Table 3 provides a list of prices of the most important foods consumed. The quantity and prices of the different foods are estimated for a typical household of about 4-6 household members. The information was collected in December 2006. On 31st of December 2006 one EURO was worth about 8.5 Namibian Dollars (N$).

Food-Item Approxiate
Outlet Expenditure
per Month (Est.)
10kg Maize-meal N$40-00 Local shops 4x (N$160-00)
1kg white sugar N$7-00 Local shops 10x (N$70-00)
125g Silver-Tea N$7-00 Local shops 5x (N$35-00)
Tobacco (handful) N$1-00 Local shops 21x (N$21-00)
Snuff N$7-00 Local shops 3x (N$21-00)
500g Salt N$3-00 Local shops 3x (N$9-00)
2.5kg Bread-flour N$18-00 Local shops 2x (N$36-00)
750ml Cooking oil N$11-00 Local shops 3x (N$33-00)
10g Yeast N$2-00 Local shops 4x (N$8-00)
1kg Macaroni N$14-00 Local shops 2x (N$28-00)
Coffee N$7-00 Local shops 2x (N$14-00)
Knorr-Soup N$3-00 Local shops 3x (N$9-00)
Onions N$2-00 Local shops 3x (N$6-00)
Potatoes N$2-00 Local shops 4x (N$8-00)
5l Sour- and fresh-milk
(from local vendors)
N$25-00 Vendor 4x (N$100-00)
Vaseline 250ml
N$7-00 Local shops 2x (N$14-00)
Soap N$5-00 Local shops 4x (N$20-00)
250g Washing-powder N$7-00 Local shops 3x (N$21-00)
2.5kg Dark-brown sugar N$11-00 Local shops 10x (N$110-00)
Jabula (Traditional beer) N$8-00 Local shops 10x (N$80-00)
6x Candle-packet N$7-00 Local shops 2x (N$14-00)
Matches N$0,50c Local shops 10x (N$5-00)
1liter Paraffin N$9-00 Local shops 2x (N$18-00)
Total expenditure     N$840-00
Table 3: Consumption expenditures for a typical households

Types of Food

Fig 2: Goods in a small store
In the following paragraph we will give an overview of the most typical foods consumed in Fransfontein. Hot beverages also play a very vital role in the daily lives of the Fransfontein people, with the average person consuming at least 3 liters of tea or coffee per day. The tea that is mostly utilized is called Silver Tea, found in most local shops. Depending on the availability, these beverages are consumed at least more than three times per day, but there is not a specified time for the consumption. Table 4 lists important foods in the different languages.

English Herero Khoekhoe
Porridge Oruhere Mai-i
A stick with which the porridge is stirred Orutako Huni-darab
Sour-milk Omaere Âu-dai-i
Traditional-fat Omazejozongombe Komasam
Lungs Omapunga Sodi
Meat Onjama //Gan-i
Heart Omutima #Gaob
Table 4: Food related terms


The most common meal enjoyed by the people of Fransfontein is porridge, called ”mai-i” in Khoekhoe and “oruhere” in otjiHerero. One can acquire it through “Augu” or through buying it in the shop.
Most people prepare their porridge over an open fire. After starting the fire, a clean pot is placed with water on the fire. The size of the pot also varies from meal to meal, depending on how many people are present for the meal. The fire must be “updated” from time to time so as to keep the heat sufficient to boil the water. When the water comes to a boil, salt is added before maize-meal (raw) is put on a plate or dish and then poured into the boiling water. For stirring a device is used made out of steel-wire bent together. In Khoekhoe, this is called a “huni-darab”, and in Herero it is called an “orutako”. The pot is then left to simmer at a lower heat.
When the porridge is done, the pot is taken off the fire. The plates are brought and the meal is served. Porridge is usually eaten with sour-milk, called “âu-dai-e” in Khoekhoe, and “omaere” in Herero, or with traditional fat, extracted from cow milk, called “komasam” in Khoekhoe and “omaze jozongombe” in Herero.

Fig 2: Cow after slaughtering

As I have mentioned in the introduction, livestock farming is very common in Fransfontein. Meat also plays an important part in the daily lives of the community. Meat is referred to as “onjama” in Herero and “//gan-i” in Khoekhoe. When, for instance a goat is slaughtered, the first things that are prepared are the liver, called “êis” in Khoekhoe and “ehuri” in Herero, the lungs, called “omapunga” in Herero and “so-di” in Khoekhoe and the heart, called “#gaos” in Khoekhoe and “omutima” in Herero.
First, the liver is cut into small pieces, spiced and then put into a pan which has been preheated with some oil or fat. The liver is then edible once it has turned nicely brown. After the liver, some water is just added to the pot and the lungs and the heart, also in pieces, are then put in. There are differences from family to family as to how the food is served. For some families, anyone just goes and takes a piece out of the pot while other families have stricter rules.
Other parts of the meat, like the neck or the thigh, are cut into pieces, with the bones sawed. Some people even use an axe or a panga to chop the meat into pieces. The meat is then put in a pot, depending on how big the family is, and water, salt, and some herbs are added. The pot is left to boil until the meat is tender. If some fat has developed during the cooking, the meat can also be fried in this oil.

Traditional Food Taboos

There are different ways in which the meat is shared. Only particular individuals are allowed to eat certain pieces of the meat. For example, in the Damara/Nama-tradition the milt is only eaten by women. In the Herero-tradition the “chest” of an animal is only eaten by the head of the house, referring to the man. This is done, according to tradition, because like the chest is in the middle of the body of the animal, the man is also the pillar of the house and keeps everything together. Also, in both the Damara/Nama and Herero traditions, the women may not eat the tongue as this is believed to cause women tol become gossip-mongers.
Also, within the Herero tradition, only men may eat the following: the thigh and the middle of the back while only women may eat the following: the backbone and the ribs. Only boys may eat the front-legs, because they must assist their fathers to lift up the house(hold). Also for the Herero people, only the herder (who looks after the animals) may eat the neck, because he has the sole power over the livestock.
For both Khoekhoe and Herero speakers pregnant women may not eat the sinews of the meat as this is believed to cause the baby to become entangled while in the womb. Furthermore, women should not eat an animal that died during the process of giving birth. Pregnant women may also not eat salty food or acidic drinks. Women that menstruate are not allowed to enter the kraal (where the animals are kept), to prepare or serve food and to enter the garden.

Food Distribution

The food is served by the wife or an elder lady who belongs to the household. The way that we distribute food nowadays differs from the way it was done in the past. In the past, the head of the household was the most important person for the distribution of food.
According to traditional norms and values, the first plate is meant for the head of the household, also referred to as the “pillar of the house”. Thereafter, the elderly should be served, then the children, and finally the woman who serves. This might mean that the serving woman will not get any food. If this happens, her husband shares with her. Therefore, she must always keep this fact in mind when putting food on her husband’s plate, that could in the end, also satisfy her hunger.


Food is the oil of the body, like petrol is the liquid that keeps a car running. Therefore, in whatever situation we find ourselves, we must try to find ways and means to acquire food, so as to sustain ourselves and our families.


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