To all my Botswana homies who are living in another country with a different culture especially outside Africa where you hardly find any African-exported goods, and you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, keep reading. If you are a Botswana food- lover, I got some survival tips for you in whatever “desert” you are living in.
Don’t be shy to ask around, other Africans in that area should have tips on what they eat when they crave of their homeland food. Make friends with farmers within your area if you can, they might even allow you to fix your craving of sitting around the fire or cook “borotho jwa lebaka or mapakiwa” (bake bread) on hot coal ,at their farm. You and I know much fun we can have while sitting around the fire, we can roast corn/maize or meat and snack while we get deeply embedded in those conversations where our elders tell us what makes the world what it is today, no smartphones please, those are sacred moments hahaha!
Go window shopping often, you are likely to find foods that will be similar to what you will eat in your culture. For example, you will find that in Western countries , Internal components of animals such as intestines,liver, spleen, bones, tripe etc are kept on the pet food-section but you and I know that they are some of the meat components that make celebration time back in Africa a success, after the slaughter of the animal( preferably in the morning before it gets very hot) on the morning of December 24th or Christmas day. Think of how that whole goat/ox-tripe or intestines goes into the pot for our Botswana popular “serobe”(mixture of intestines,tripe) locally known as “mateng and mogodu”. That whole liver is fried with the “lomipi”/ fat and eaten as a starter before the main course.
And of course the internet always help, look up sights where you can buy food or have family and friends back home to send you some BUT most importantly check the laws of importing foods for the country in which you have currently migrated to.
Go to Indian food stores and look carefully at their food labels because they would normally have a different name for something that you would definitely be looking for.
For example , I went to an Indian food store and looked around , only to find that they had sorghum flour and millet flour, I was ready to grab one of those. I was craving of the “Botswana Bogobe”, even though the particles were too fine for my liking, my bogobe craving was all sorted .Talking of Indian stores, they are likely to import maize-meal and they have a lot of variety of beans that you will be familiar with.
I also came across a pack that reminds me of the busy markets of Botswana , especially the Bus stations, here it is;
“The Manoko” .My friend and I gave it a try and cooked the Botswana famous “manoko” and boiled in water for about an hour.
This is a popular snack sold at the busiest markets of Botswana,where you will hear the voices of the most talented enterprenuers shouting around the Botswana bus stations “are itseeleng manoko ka kwano bagolo!, ke 5 pulanyana hela” meaning “lets get ourselves some peanuts elders!they only cost as little as 5 pula” They will make you feel like the “manoko”is the cheapest item in town.
Talking of fixing my craving of the Botswana “bogobe”, I bought millet flour from an Indian food store.
I cooked the millet flour as I would normally cook porridge to my liking, and served.
I added sugar for taste
I then added milk, which is my favourite for any porridge I eat. This porridge is locally known as “bogobe jwa lebelebele” in Botswana.
The African-ness in me though… Comment below and let us know how you go about fixing your cravings especially for your cultural food if you cannot find them in a certain area.