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Firewood-cooked traditional meals

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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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Vodacom gives to schools

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MASERU – FIVE schools in Malea-Lea area in Mafeteng received a gift of 20 computers from the Vodacom Lesotho Foundation last Friday.

Vodacom Lesotho has also provided the schools with free unlimited internet as part of its corporate social responsibility.

The company also donated a fully furnished computer laboratory worth M1.2 million, including solar energy to the Malea-Lea community in Mafeteng.

The computer lab will serve Malea-Lea Primary, Litšokeleng Primary, Makhetheng Primary and Botšoela Primary Schools as well as Malea-lea Secondary School.

The principal for Malea-Lea Secondary School, ’Masechaba Sekhesa, said computer studies are in their syllabus and this donation will help the teachers and students to access technology which will in turn improve their education and attract more sponsors in their schools.

“These will also encourage the communities to stop taking their children to schools outside Malea-Lea,” Sekhesa said.

“This will increase the number of students in our schools,” she said.

The Principal of Makhetheng Primary School, Thato Phethoka, said lack of computers has not only affected students’ education but also the teachers who had to spend their money to deliver education. He said in 2020, Covid-19 pandemic knocked them down even more.

He said after the lockdown was introduced in schools, education moved to digital platforms.

“In the absence of electricity in the community coupled with high unemployment which hinders parents from buying phones for their children, we had to find a way to deliver education,” Phethoka said.

“Teachers were forced by circumstances to use their own funds to buy data to do the research and download materials through their phones,” he said.

He said for an average class of 26 students, teachers had to spend their money to print the assignments for students which would cost M2 per copy.

Phethoka said even the computer centre present in Malea-Lea is a one hour walk away which discouraged students.

However, he said the presence of this new facility would help teachers and students to access the internet and research to improve education which is a 30 minutes’ walk from their school.

The Director of Malea-Lea Development Trust Fund, Khotso Au, said they only had 20 computers.

Au said in a day they would have more than 25 students and due to the shortage of computers, some would have to share.

He said the other challenge was that the facility had to buy contract data of 400 GB which cost M1 900.

He said although the facility has donors, it was still challenging to take out that huge sum of money since they also have other projects.

He said the schools’ performance has been bad and this discourages donors since they have to submit reports on students they are sponsoring.

He said he believes the presence of these new computers and access to the internet will help the students to access the internet for research and improve the education in the area.

Vodacom Lesotho’s corporate affairs executive head, Tšepo Ntaopane, said they had provided solar energy to help power the computers. They will also provide the schools with free data.

“We are seeking to give away other computers in other schools and communities to ensure that every Mosotho has access to technology,” Ntaopane said.

“We want to build a technology driven economy,” he said, adding that they are “willing to take out what we have to assist Basotho”.

Refiloe Mpobole

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New mobile filling stations on the cards

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MASERU – THE Petroleum Fund has introduced mobile filling stations that have a higher life span.

The new filling stations have a life span of more than 50 years compared to traditional filling stations that have a life span of around 15 years, according to the Petroleum Fund’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Rorisang Mahlo,

Mahlo said the outstanding features of this new investment include a petroleum tank which is stored in fabricated containers, unlike the traditional filling stations where the petroleum tank is underground.

“This exposure to more chemical reactions shortens the life span,” Mahlo said.

Mahlo said the mobile filling stations are also covered with layers which include the ordinary layer and upper layer which is resistant to fire.

“This makes them more advantageous than the traditional ones,” he said.

He said the traditional filling stations come in one size while the mobile filling stations come in various sizes which make them more business viable and flexible.

In his welcoming remarks, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Petroleum Fund, Thato Mohasoa, said the major objective of the institution is to ensure security supply of petroleum products in the country.

He said they are expected to facilitate the improvement of the distribution and accessibility of those products throughout the country.

Mohasoa said the Petroleum Fund realised that there was a need to assess the extent of the supply shortage of petroleum products in the country.

He said one of the projects that were recommended for consideration were the Mobile Filling Stations in underserviced and remote parts of the country.

He said the mobile filling station is intended to create opportunities for investment and jobs for local people while ensuring the security of supply of petroleum products in the country. He said this will in turn stimulate the country’s economy.

The Operations Manager at Petroleum Fund, Lebohang Makhoali, said the petroleum sector’s needs analysis was completed in 2020 to identify gaps within the Petroleum Fund mandate. Amongst others, a mobile filling station project was recommended.

He said the mobile filling station will increase local ownership and assist in building local capacity and training of local entrepreneurs. He said the estimated capital required to establish a mobile filling station in these sites range from M1.2 million to M1.7 million.

He said this entails the facility infrastructure, a fuel management system and a payment system. Makhoali said these filling stations are best investments for highlands and rural parts of Lesotho since they will not compete with the existing traditional filling stations as a set radius will be determined.

“It is a low investment expenditure compared to a traditional filling station,” he said.

The Petroleum Fund Officer ’Makhauta Fosa said once the policies and regulatory frameworks have been formulated, the companies will be issued with business licenses. However, he said an applicant must have business registration documents as issued by the Registrar of Businesses in Lesotho.

She said before the construction can start, applicants must have a building permit and apply for the certificate of occupancy as the construction continues. Fosa said an applicant must have a supply contract with a licensed oil company.

“A filling station is not allowed to have more than one supplier,’’ she said.

An applicant must submit a written application for a trading licence to the Department of Energy.

Refiloe Mpobole

 

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MMB workers down tools

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MASERU – WORKERS at the Maluti Mountain Brewery (MMB) downed tools from Monday this week demanding a 20 percent raise on their salaries.

The MMB’s legal officer, ’Mapulumo Mosisili, however insisted that the strike will not affect the company’s daily operations.

Mosisili said they had “already put in place measures to continue with our job smoothly”.

“We are doing our best to ensure that the strike does not affect us,” Mosisili said.

She said the process started through the Wages Board in August where they tried to explain the company’s financial situation to the workers.

“But it is their right to strike,” Mosisili said. She said the 20 percent increment the workers are demanding is not affordable because “everything has become expensive now, like water and electricity”.

The company had promised a 4.6% salary increment but the workers opposed the proposal

She said no company has given the employees a salary rise above the inflation rate due to a lack of finances.

The MMB workers launched their strike by blocking the company’s gates with trucks and singing protest songs.

One of the songs they were signing while holding their placards says Mona ha rea tlela masaoana, which translates to “We are not here for fun”.

Their placards were written Ha re batle 4.6% e nyane, which translates to “We do not want 4.6% increment because it is too
little”.

Another was written Re kopa moputso o phelisang which translates to, “We are asking for enough salaries to earn a living”.

One of the workers, Mohafa Malefane, said the prices of basic commodities have increased which requires that workers get enough salaries for them to cope.

“He (the employer) says he will offer only 4.6 percent, we do not want that, it is not enough,” Malefane said.

Malefane said they ended up striking because their employer has clarified that he will not give them the 20 percent they are demanding.

He added that last year they received a four percent salary increment.

“It was still below the inflation rate as it was seven percent then,” he said.

He said the striking departments include brewing, packaging, logistics, and utilities.

“It’s just that some workers in the distribution department have turned their backs on us, they are busy working now,” he said.

The employees’ representative, Fokothi Thite, told thepost that the lowest-earning employee gets M2 000.

“If they add their 4.6 percent it will make a difference of only M80. We will not allow that,” Thite said.

He stated that at least the 20 percent they propose will raise their salary from M2 000 to M2 400.

“The salaries we are paid here are spent on transport to bring us to work and take us back to our homes, and nothing else,” he
said.

He also said they approached the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Reconciliation (DDPR) and their management to fix the matter “but no one listened”.

“We will stand here and sing until 2023.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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