Biggest Braai: Short by 150?

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Following Saturday’s World’s Biggest Braai record attempt, provisional results provided yesterday indicated that Namibia was merely short by 150 people to break the record held by Australia since 1993 in feeding the greatest number of people in one single go. Preliminary figures as tallied by renowned accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWHC), as released by the main organiser Meatco, indicated that the number of beef-eaters who participated in the event at Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura was 44 009. If 150 more people had been let through the gates on top of the 44 009 attendees, the feat would have earned Namibia a spot in the popular Guinness Book of World Records. Had it not been for initial teething problems resulting in some of the people walking away from the event due to frustration, as they had to wait for hours for nothing, Namibia would surely have broken the Aussie record. Though the above figure is provisional the final result is due today. The present record stands at 44 158 people who feasted at a barbeque that was held on October 10, 1993 in Australia. Though Namibia failed to break the world record, it should draw consolation from the fact that Saturday’s event is possibly an African record. The ultimate goal was to feed 45 000 people with a boerewors roll and a soft drink. When the New Era team contacted the auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers yesterday, Senior Manager Cornell Dreyer said they were still busy with the counting process. “We still have to do the final count over the week,” he explained. Endless queues of people could be seen outside the stadium while many other people were inside receiving their meal and certificate of attendance, with each attendee having his right thumb marked with a black marker as they left the stadium. Yet in an orderly manner and without much fuss, people waited patiently for their turn as hundreds of volunteers assisted them into the right queues. Earlier in the day, the sea of people that arrived was so much that “during the morning peak hours of between 7am and 10am close to 3 000 people were being fed,” explained Director of Sindana Communication Beverly Jandrell, adding that it was a very busy yet fruitful day for the organisers to attempt such a world breaking event. By 12:00 midday, 12 700 people had walked through the gates. Yet by lunchtime this figure drastically rose to the 17 000 mark. Because the morning was the best time for big numbers to come through as the day was still cool, this led to much longer queues and crowd congestion from the outside. “We were afraid of a stampede at the exit and before anyone could get hurt we allowed some of them to come in unmarked. The figure is still unverified because it might have happened that some people came in again because they were not marked,” added co-organiser and Meatco’s Corporate Communications Manager, Uschi Ramakhutla, in a brief interview. At one stage, the process was slowed down by security and police officials finding some knives and guns on some of the people entering the stadium. As a result, more thorough body searches had to be conducted on all those coming through the entry points. Fortunately, there were no major emergency incidents. There were however a few minor ones, including when two boys were scratched on their hands by the sharp wire fencing due to the huge crowd pressing forward at the stadium gates. One lady is reported to have fainted around 10:00 as well. She was taken away by ambulance. “I have waited for two hours now with my family, the queues are just too long,” said one man alluding to the fact that many like him had to wait for a long time to get inside the stadium. Music entertainment from the likes of local musicians The Dogg, Sonny Boy and Jericho provided some relief together with people selling refreshments outside of the stadium. Although by lunchtime the numbers were steady, the figures started to dwindle by late afternoon and the queues outside become shorter. A significant part of the world’s biggest braai attempt was when the Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma at around five o’ clock in the afternoon came and greeted the cheering crowds, giving them a word of encouragement. “This is special appeal to all Namibians to come out in big force to join us here at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Katutura and taste the nice delicacy that is the Namibian boerewors,” said Nujoma, also taking a bite of his boerewors roll and collecting his attendance certificate numbered 12 215. Prime Minister Nahas Angula, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Theo Ben Gurirab, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Alpheus !Naruseb and Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, Pohamba Shifeta, were present to greet him at the event. The world’s biggest braai was sponsored by Meatco, Trustco Group, Renaissance Health Medical Aid Fund, Coca-Cola, Omulunga Radio, One Africa Television, New Era InterAct FCB and Sindana Communications.

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