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Firewood-cooked traditional meals



MASERU – LESOTHO, like other countries across Africa, has seen people abandon their traditional lifestyle for modern trends. This includes feeding patterns.

But for Thapelo Koloko and his partner, Motumi Khoabane, the development has presented itself as an opportunity to draw people back to their roots — and what better way to do it but through food.

Heritage and cultural re-orientation is the hallmark of their restaurant business.

Ba-oroa-tsatsi Firewood Foods restaurant is situated at a busy place next to Sefateng taxi rank at Seapoint, Maseru.

Business set-ups of this nature are rare particularly in urban areas in Lesotho. This particular business prides itself in using firewood for cooking.

For many Basotho entrapped in fast foods, the traditional dishes served by Ba-oroa-tsatsi Firewood Foods have come as a relief.

The idea of forming a restaurant emanated from the abundant proceeds of agricultural produce from their farm at Sehlabeng called Ba-oroa-tsatsi Agri-business project.

“At some point we harvested potatoes in large quantities and resolved to open a restaurant,” said Koloko.

Koloko has used his educational skills as well as his experience of dealing with food processing to run the restaurant.

“The business is managed by us, the co-founders due to our knowledge in product development and marketing.

“The exposure and experience dealing with food and beverages has positioned us as entrepreneurs that are skilled in accelerating the business.

“Our popularity in the space of youth development and youth economic empowerment advocacy and being a regular speaker at local events that are geared towards educating Basotho about the history of foods and herbs has helped us draw a lot of customers,” said Koloko, a trained accountant from Botho University.

The name Ba-oroa-tsatsi traces its origins to the fond affiliations of the founders to promote the black race, particularly Sesotho speaking groups.

History has it that the place where Basotho originate from is termed Ntsoanatsatsi, therefore it had been safe to conclude that the people who originate from there are Ba-oroa-tsasi, according to the founders’ perception.

Koloko strongly upholds the virtues of being a Mosotho and is guided by the adage that one cannot know where they are headed to if they do not know their history.
On their menu is a wide variety of dishes to choose from.

There are provisions for indigenous beverages and foods that are often provided on certain occasions or on order.

“We are a cultural-based restaurant that strives to serve ordinary, unique, occasional fashion food and beverages in town.

“We offer bakery products such as buns, bread and pizza as well as fast foods that include chicken wings, chips, food wraps, braai, stews as well as beverages like slushies, milkshake, khemere, cocktails, wines, ciders and vodka and milkshake.

“Popcorn, candy floss are also part of the fun foods we provide.

“The restaurant doesn’t entirely use gas and electricity to process the cooked meals, instead, firewood is mostly used.

“We cater for mini occasional events such as birthdays, graduation celebrations and business meetings,” he said.

Among the many services that the restaurant provides as a courtesy treat are free Wi-Fi, photoshoot, library and traditional games such as morabaraba.

On request, customers are given access to free streaming of music from online handles.

The restaurant is primarily built with wooden materials that include pallets.

For aesthetics purposes, the wood has also been used to furnish the place and is chipped into different shapes and sizes to make tables, chairs, benches and stools.

The view inside the restaurant is eye catching and evokes one’s spirituality with attachment to Mother Nature.

“Our primary customers are residents of Seapoint and surrounding areas. Also, people who come to do shopping in town pass by this place and enjoy the deliciously cooked meals.

“Ba-oroa-tsatsi serves people who want to feast on healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner while at the same time embracing the traditional atmosphere.

“People also come in groups from different social and business backgrounds and get an opportunity to dine and enjoy in a relaxed environment,” he said.

Running a thriving business hasn’t been a walk in the park, said Koloko.

“Management entails being able to plan, lead and control. This is vital for the smooth running of the business.

“Managers need to use both creativity and problem solving skills in order to create and implement plans to help a business to prosper.

“Managers need to create plans for new product roll-outs or business restructuring.

“Their leadership and communication skills come in handy to interact effectively with the business’s employees and customers.

“They will be confident and respectful while offering employees support when needed.

“Their ability to multitask and manage stress will stand them in good stead as they oversee multiple operations of the business,” said Koloko.

Calvin Motekase

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