Have you been to Single Quarters in Katutura Namibia?

I invite Chris, one of my Gondwana colleagues, to join me for Kapana at Oshetu (ours) Community Market in Katutura, Single Quarters. He excitedly accepts my offer as it’s the best place for Kapana (grilled beef prepared on open fire). Beef is cut into small pieces, grilled and sold as it cooks.

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Chris and I are on our way, and it’s a warm day. He says, “One sees the difference straight away.’’ He is noticing high-walled brick homes making way for corrugated iron housing. Providing shelter and business opportunities. Seeing businesses such as ice vendors, shebeens (bars), hair salons and tyre repair shops.

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We arrive at the market, as we park outside a car guard immediately offers his services. We walk in and are immediately greeted by the heat, the noise and the sheer size of the place.

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Chris notices people negotiating prices, choosing their desired items and engaging in varied discussions. I see Meme (Mom, as I refer to older women) in the company of Tate (Dad, as I refer to older men), who is busy negotiating a discount on a fruit sale. We look around for a bit and the first stall we spot is that of a TV repairman. He fixes any type of television imaginable. Old box sets, flat-screens. We see an odd black and white set as well.

Chris and I continue walking among the different stalls, taking in the atmosphere.  We stop by at another Meme (Mamaa in Otjiherero), who is busy sewing a Herero dress.

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I tell Chris, “I’ll be right back.’’ I quickly jog into a salon where I warmly greet everyone. This is where Namtenya braids my hair.

Namtenya asks, “Who’s the oshilumbu (white person) with you?”

I say, “It’s Chris, my colleague.”

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We chat for a bit while Chris walks to a shoe repair stall to ask about his old vellies (veldskoene/leather shoes). I join him and we continue exploring.

Selling traditional delicacies is one more Meme, smiling and explaining the different products.

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To one side we see a few men surrounding a pool table, cheering and chanting as they enjoy a game.

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Tic-Tacs, a pro salsa chef, emerges from this group to greet Chris. The salsa that he makes is an onion, tomato, vinegar and oil mixture enjoyed with Kapana. Chris says, “We should get salsa from him.”

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With joy and style Tic-Tacs prepares the salsa. Chris is definitely the renowned guy in the market. I am sure that many here will remember him long after we have left.

Finally at the Kapana stations, the various Kapana masters call out, “Over here!” or “Have a taste here!” Kavax, a Kapana master, convinces us and works with Matthew, who cuts the beef in strips.

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We decide to taste. Chris asks, “Is it good?”

“It’s good,” I say.

Kavax cuts beef pieces and wraps them in newspaper for us. Kavax and Matthew insist that I take photos of them with Chris, and request a return visit with the prints.

We take our meal and buy some cold drinks from the last Meme, who offers us a place to sit as well. I always say that Kapana does not taste good without a 500 ml coke and a junkie (vetkoek, fried bread dough).

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This makes it a complete meal. I take a few more photos, while Chris asks, “Are we ever going to eat?” We tuck in. It does not end here, however, as very soon we are enjoying a second round of salsa and Kapana.

Here we sit, lost in conversation, looking around and realising how special this place is. A community of people who are dependent on one another. An entrepreneurial spirit.

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I love how vendors offer services and products, which are associated with each another. Chris says, “Like we need the salsa from Tic-Tacs, he needs Kavax to supply the meat.” Both of them also need the ladies selling junkies and other traditional foods and cold drinks.

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The market is located on the corner of Shanghai and Vicky Ipinge Street in Katutura (Single Quarters), Windhoek. Originally, the area had a large apartment block named Single Quarters which accommodated bachelors and contract workers during the apartheid era. It was one of the areas that people were moved to during the forced relocation from the Old Location to Katutura.

Now it’s become home, and you feel at home. It is a place where people from different backgrounds come together.

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Look out for Chris’s post on 3rd November, he invited me to the Windhoek Oktoberfest celebrations.

Have you been to Single Quarters? Did you enjoy it? Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below.

Author –  I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.


Have you tasted Omalodu-iilya, a fermented traditional beer in Namibia?

Omalodu is a fermented traditional beer among the Oshiwambo speaking people of Namibia. It is a socio-cultural symbol and important for celebrating the births, weddings, visitors, birthdays and traditional dancing ceremonies. When we visit my aunt at Ongha village, she loves to prepare omalodu to welcome us.

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Omalodu is prepared with sorghum and pearl millet flours (iilya). Both are distinctly nutritious. Sorghum contains iron, copper and calcium, whereas pearl millet has methionine, folic acid, lecithin, manganese and zinc.

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My aunt starts the preparation by soaking the ufila wongava (sorghum flour) in cold water and letting it rest for two hours. This mixture is then boiled for two hours until ready. Whilst boiling, it is stirred continuously with an omindo (scooping utensil) to prevent it from boiling over.

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Whilst the mixture is boiling, omako (brown sack with fine pores) and embale (dried moist fan palm leaves) are prepared. The omako is then tied to a wooden pole and the mixture is filtered through it. A hole is dug in the elimba lomalodu (omalodu storing area) in which the oshitoo (traditional omalodu container) is placed overnight for warmth and fermentation.

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In the meantime, my cousins and I mill the threshed pearl millet grain from previous harvests for ondwango (freshly milled pearl millet flour) at the oshini (milling area).

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In the morning, two hours before drinking, ondwango is added to the filtered mixture for further fermentation. Once the oshitoo is removed from the hole, water is sprinkled on the ground where it will be placed, in order to keep the omalodu cool. Once ready, everyone gathers at the elimba lomalodu to enjoy an eholo (traditional cup) of omalodu. It has a mild taste, with evident sorghum and pearl millet flavours. As conversations over omalodu are underway, the oshitoo quickly empties.

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To quench your omalodu thirst, visit the Pepata Restaurants in Windhoek on Robert Mugabe Avenue, CBD and Robin Road, Tauben Glen Centre, Shop No.3. Omalodu is only brewed at the restaurant on weekends.

Have you tasted omalodu? Did you like it? Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below.

Author –  I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.


Have you tasted Eembe in Namibia?

When making your way to Hakusembe River Lodge via the Ohangwena Region, you will come across Bird Plum trees as they are abundant to this region. Also found in southern Angola and Botswana, scientifically, the tree is known as Berchermia discolourand. It produces a wild fruit referred to as Eembe.

The tree has also been called: Bruinivoor (Afrikaans), Wilde Dattel (Deutsch), Fhûin (Khoekhoegowab), Omuve (OshiNdonga), Omuve (OtjiHerero), Nombe (RuKwangali), Mukerete (RuManyo) and Mukalu / Muzinzila (SiLozi).

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Eembe is amongst the main types of wild fruits found in Northern Namibia, others consisting of: Marula (Sclerocarya birrea), Mangetti nuts / kernels (Schinziophyton rautanenii), Jackal berries (Diospyros mespiliformis) and Makalani fruit (Hyphaene petersiana).

Between the months of October to March, green to yellow flowers appear on the tree and 1,8 cm long oval fruits can be seen in groups of three on a leaf. The fruit then changes its colours from blue-green, to a light yellow and lastly when ripened to orange.

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The harvesting period is usually between March to April. During this period, the people local to the area (including my family), collect the fruit for personal consumption and income generation. As children, my cousins and I threw makalani fruit pits, elders’ walking sticks, empty tins or bottles on the trees for the fruit to fall on the ground.

The fruit is a nutrient supplier, having a sugar content of 30% in the pulp and vitamin C of 65mg / 100g. It has a date-like taste with a pit inside, and eating experience is enjoyed by chewing on the pulp. Hence, it is consumed fresh or dried and stored for later use too. Also, it makes for a great snack in-between big meals.

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The fruit can be fermented with water and other wild fruits to make ombike. Ombike is a potent traditional Oshiwambo brew that my aunt occasionally brews and is enjoyed by the family. The new Eembe Cream liqueur is made from the fruit and it has a distinct taste. You are able to find a local Eembe Cream vendor at the Windhoek City Market, situated on the corner of Liliencron Street and Robert Mugabe Avenue.

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If you have tasted or like this fruit, we invite you to share your experience in the comment section below.

Author –  I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.