#4 Namibia: Confluence of the Barren and the Frigid

Located in south-west Africa, Namibia is one of those countries with a younger-sibling complex. Much like the relationship between Niger and Nigeria, with the smaller Niger being heavily shaped by tribal relationships in Nigeria, Namibia has been heavily influenced by South Africa.

Namibia, in fact, did not receive true independence until 1990, and South Africa explicitly dictated domestic governance policy until 1988. South Africa exhibits all of those wonderful older-sibling characteristics: control, dominance, and, of course, the imposition of the thoughts of the dominant on the thoughts on the submissive.

Firstly, we looked at the flag. Any flag says something interesting about a country, and Namibia was no different.

At the top left, there is a sun. It is typically sunny and hot in Namibia. The sun rests over the blue ocean, located to the west of the country. The red area represents the desert. It is red-hot and flanked on either side with white, buffer-zones that serve as warnings to those who would attempt to traverse such a place. The green represents the north-eastern part of the country, which is lush in places.

Ok, none of that may be true, but it's a helpful device to remember a bit both about the country and the flag.

In looking to create a meal representative of Namibia, we stumbled through history, culture and demographic trends and did not find a clear narrative to build upon. Thus, we struck out to create one.

What we knew (or discovered) about Namibia:
1. It has one of the highest income inequalities of any country in the world
2. It was formerly colonized by the Germans
3. It was heavily dominated politically and culturally by South Africa
4. The largest tribe, or ethnic group, is the Ovambo, who live in the north of the country
5. The name of the country derives from the word "Namib", which means barren, or desert
6. The southern and western portions of the country are sparsely populated, mostly with nomads

So, we set off to make a meal that represented high income inequality, that had influences taken from Southern Africa, that in some way represented the desert and that was finished off with a lovely German desert. Oh, and it should really have a dish that is native to the Ovambo people.

We did not fully succeed in this task, but we came darn close. Firstly, we found an interesting website where some BBC folks traveled down to Namibia and cooked a meal with the Himba tribe. According to this language map of Namibia, the Himba live in area 5 and speak Herero. The Ovambo, however, speak the Bantu dialect and live further north. This may or may not be true, but this is what we went on.

So, we found two lovely recipes from these BBC Hairy Bikers. One was for Magic Lamb with Biblical Berries and the other was for Bobotie, a South African staple. The Magic Lamb with Biblical Berries would solve two of our requirements: firstly, it was cooked in the desert sand and secondly, it highlighted the efficiency of German colonialism. In researching Namibia, we found that a full 60% of the population identified themselves as Lutheran. For a bit, we could see the country as a Southern Hemispheric Minnesota, complete with their own Namibian Garrison Keillor.

"That's the news from Windhoek, where all the women are strong, the men are good looking and the children are excellent marksmen."

Now, to find something to represent the poor: For this, we made Oshifima, or a kind of stiff porridge that we found here. This is a simple porridge made from cornmeal and is used as an eating utensil, must like sticky rice is used as a utensil in Laos.

Then, to represent the German colonization, we topped it all off with a Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte, or a Black Forest Cherry Cake. Divine.


This recipe is adopted from this recipe.


An M&M size piece of tamarind reduction
Two shots of red wine
Two pounds of ground red animal meat
A small handful of almonds, crushed
A pinch of peppercorns
A bit of minced ginger
A small chili, minced
A pinch of marjoram
A pinch of coriander
A couple of garlic cloves minced
A part of a small onion, minced
A bit of lemon zest
A small handful of raisins
A shot of double cream
A piece of butter the size of a walnut
Salt and pepper to taste
Some bay leaves, preferably whole
One large glass of milk
A handful of eggs
Some curry powder
A bit of baking powder




Turn your oven on to about 350. Firstly, take the tamarind and mix it with the wine. Mix this thoroughly. Then, take the meat and put it in a bowl. Mix all the ingredients from the almonds to the raisins into the meat. Add wine/tamarind mixture to this meatloaf. Add the bay leaves to the loaf in any way you would like. They should be removed after cooking.

Then, bake the meatloaf until it has cooked through. Then, add the custard topping which is simply the milk, eggs, curry and baking powder. Pour this on top and cook until it has turned beautifully brown.

Magic Lamb with Biblical Berries

This recipe was adopted from this recipe.


Leg of Lamb
Pomegranate seeds
Peppercorn seeds
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Aluminum foil


Go outside and dig a hole in your perfectly good yard. Get some wood and start a very nice fire. Get it going very good and strong, enough to make you slightly nervous as it is very close to your house, and then let it die.

Take the lamb and cut large slits into it. Cover the lamb with olive oil, salt and pepper. Fill the lamb slits with rosemary, anchovies, peppercorns and pomegranate seeds. Cover the lamb with about 5 layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Place in fire and keep the fire fairly consistent in temperature. Let it cook for about an hour. Take the temperature of the lamb when you think you're almost finished.

Serve with vigor, as this is a very masculine dish.


This recipe was adopted from this recipe.






Heat the water in a pot. Gradually mix the cornmeal with the milk in a different pot until it forms a paste-like consistency. Merge the two pots and cook until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Remove from heat and knead it until it forms a uniform ball. Serve with lamb and bobotie, using the oshifima as a utensil.

Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte

This recipe was adopted from this recipe.


6 large eggs
1 cup Sugar
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped and melted
1 cup of sifted flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup softened unsalted butter
1 Egg yolk
2 tablespoons kirsch liquer
2 cups canned sour cherries
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup whipping cream
4 oz of bittersweet chocolate shaved


3 8 inch round cake pans
Lots of bowls


Pre-heat oven to 350. Mix the eggs and sugar and vanilla until the become light and fluffy; fold in the melted chocolate and flour gradually and in that order. Divide and pour batter into cake pans and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Combine softened butter, kirsch and 1 1/3 cup of powdered sugar into a butter frosting.

Whip cream with 2 tablespoon powdered sugar.

Assemble cake spreading frosting on the first layer of cake and sprinkling half the cherries on top. Repeat the process with the second layer. Place the final layer of cake on top and ice with whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings and serve.


We give the Bobotie 1.5 globes because it was generally difficult to eat. It was, in our opinion, like playing consumption roulette: in one bite, there would be almonds and meat. In another bite, it would be savory and meat. In yet another bite, it would be spicy-hot and meat.

Also, the custard topping did not lend itself to meatloaf. Meatloaf and custard do not go together very well in our opinions. It may be, however, that we just didn't cook the thing correctly. If someone knows where we went wrong, please let us know.

We give the Magic Lamb with Biblical Berries 3.5 globes because it was tasty, but we overcooked it. The anchovies were a wonderful way to marinade this piece of meat and the completely melted away leaving a salty-tart flavor. The cooking in the hole in the back yard gets high marks from us as well for its novelty.

The other reason that this meal was especially interesting was that we cooked it in the middle of a snow-storm, quite the opposite weather conditions of a desert. We will post pictures later.

We give the Oshifima 3 globes because it didn't turn out as well as we would have liked either. We didn't let it reduce enough and it wasn't as thick as it should have been. That having been said, it did end up being quite a nice addition to the meat dishes that we served and it represented a very simple dish to make, serve and eat.

Finally, we gave the Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte a full 3.5 globes. It should have gotten higher marks because the flavors were excellent, but it fell short because the cake parts were not as light and fluffy as they should have been.

At the end of the day, we have to give this meal 3 globes, and this is not at all entirely the fault of Namibia. The evil spirit of poor cooking visited our house that evening and, for that, we all suffered.

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