THE NUL GRADUATE CUISINE THAT SELLS SESOTHO FOODS

Her company is about the only one that sells traditional Sesotho foods in Lesotho—mocha-hlama, nyaka-fatane, nyekoe, sekele, likahare, motoho, potele, seketsa—you name them. It could be the only one in the world too. That’s why foreigners who visit Lesotho could not be so pleased. They get a treat they will never get anywhere else!

At long last, the foreigners have found in her, someone who won’t serve them fat-cakes and French fries in the Mountain Kingdom. That is Bohlokoa Senyane, the National University of Lesotho (NUL) trained and self-proclaimed culture and cooking enthusiast.

“I am making a surprising amount of money with this idea,” she said “It has caught me by surprise.” She should not be surprised. Many cultures have learned the art of preserving their recipes long time ago. That has paid off.

(Catch her here +266 5986 8399) 

When you go elsewhere in the world, you will be greeted with the Mexican Huachinango a la Veracruzana, the Italian Focaccia al rosmarino , the Indian Aloo methi, the Ethiopian Fir-fir and the Chinese Char siu . You are still greeted with English breakfast and tea if you ever land your foot on the mighty Queen’s land.

What is common about all these places? “They have learned to preserve their traditional foods, along with their culture buried in those foods,” Bohlokoa said.

As you may have guessed, the good things started while she was a student at the NUL. She studied a mix of theatre and drama, and culture and languages. “At some point, we were requested to think about how we could make business out of the preservation of our culture as a project,” she said.

All along, there was a combination of good traits in her that was just awaiting the right opportunity, the right spark. “I always loved my culture and I always loved cooking. When I go to other countries, I am always amazed at how people there just love to preserve their culture.”

The love for cooking and the love for culture was a dormant yet explosive combination buried deep in her heart, waiting for a spark. When they were asked to imagine businesses, the spark was ignited and she was set on fire, never to be extinguished.

It’s easy to have ideas, but the bravest amongst us know how to turn ideas into actions. She is clearly one of those.

“First of all, I had to figure out who really would like my food,” she narrated. The problem is although some Basotho still like the traditional foods, most of them find that the food appear alien.

So she had to choose the right audience for this food.

She found the right audience. People who visit Lesotho must come with an expectation that they would be treated with delightful traditional foods, only to be disappointed with generous servings of fatcakes and French fries (makoenya le lichips). No doubt most of them go home disappointed, at least as far as food is concerned.

So what were she to do about it?

“I had to go to places where I knew it would be possible to find a sizeable number of foreigners working in Lesotho and I realised NGOs were such places.”

So she mustered the courage and she approached the NGOs and made her presentations, much to the surprise of Basotho folks. How could such a young freshly graduated lady even be thinking about traditional Sesotho foods?

The foreigners, for their part, would entertain none of such rigid thinking. Here, at last, comes someone, who is making a proposal that should have been so logical to anyone in the first place.

It’s not like Basotho did not have appetizing dishes before the colonialists came along, they did. In fact most of the Sesotho dishes have only been abandoned few decades ago. “So why weren’t Basotho selling what belonged to them?,” the foreigners obviously thought to themselves.

So they were willing to give it a try—and they were surprised with exquisite delights. “They did not only tell me my food was good, they showed it by keeping on eating it more and more.”

Now Senyane’s business is established. She has customers mainly among foreigners who normally invite her every-time they have visitors from outside Lesotho. “Oh Boy! Do I sometimes get called on to serve quite a large body of people and do I make a good deal of money!” she said with a deserved humble pride in her voice.

Even Basotho are beginning to warm up to her food. “With Basotho, I have a strategy, I modernise the food a little bit to make it appear appetizing,” she said. “Then I give it an unbelievable taste.” For that reason, she has already been invited to serve in wedding a few times.