Getting by with the Famous Smiley

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The smell of freshly cut raw goat head attracts a whole swarm of flies that quickly get waved away by the elderly woman sitting in front of a tray full of pieces of the delicacy. With this new business for her, she is hopeful that through the sale of this delicacy to members of the public in Katutura, she would get herself out of the vicious cycle of poverty. “Poverty has put me here and I have no other option but to do something to feed my seven grandchildren who stay with me here,” says 59-year-old Hilde !Gaoses, who augments her N$300 pension with money from the sales of goat heads. Since her husband passed away in May last year, she has to look for ways to make a living in a city where the vast majority of Namibians are struggling due to poverty and unemployment. “I get the goat heads from the butcheries nearby and clean them with a razor blade, before I spice and cook them for sale to the customers,” she said, washing the blade in bloody water. Although some people such as Melba’s in Katutura have made headway in becoming successful business people in the neighbourhood, !Gaoses has a long way to go since she only started two weeks ago. “All I’m worried about right know is to generate an income to feed these children. They are orphans and they now fall under my care,” says the concerned grandmother. She spends most of her time preparing goat heads. She also gets assistance from her sister in-law Grete /Uiras. “It’s hard labour, but at the end of the day, the little we get as a family makes me feel all right,” she added, placing the last goat head in the bowl, before it is taken to the fireplace for cooking. One goat head sells for N$30 and if it turns out to be a productive selling day, that amount could be tripled. The smoke from the crackling fire fills the fireplace as !Gaoses and her helper place the cleaned heads into a big three-legged pot. Although she was not keen to reveal the spice recipe she uses, New Era learnt that the goat heads are best cooked in the black three-legged pot as it keeps the natural tastiness of the Smiley. “The conventional way of cooking in an ordinary pot on the stove is completely out, because that’s the wrong way of doing it,” said the woman, wiping her hands clean with a red and white dishcloth. Once cooked, the heads are pre-heated in a microwave oven before they get sold to the customer neatly wrapped in foil paper and placed in a plastic bag.