Namambe Interview: 20 December 2022
I am Kashindi Ausiku, you Host from Windhoek, the Capital City of the Republic of Namibia.
This is my last interview for the year 2022 and I would like to use this opportunity to wish all our participants and readers a Merry Xmas and a Prosperous New Year.
This time around I had the privilege to interview Ndinelao Kankoto kaTate Dafita (David Sheehama) aka Mee Wawaz who hails from Onakambalu Village in Omusati Region. Ndinelago is an Oshiwambo baby girl name that means “I am lucky”. This is the name that her parents gave her first before any other name could be added, be it by the church or friends/family, hence in my view it must be the first name, others are second or third.
According to Oshiwambo tradition a baby is immediately given a name after birth as soon as it is established that it is a baby boy or girl.
That said, Ndinelago is a chef by profession who runs her food business in Outapi trading as Wawas Trading cc.
In this interview she shares her experience, views and dreams with Namambe with the hope that our readers could learn a thing or two from it.
K: Ndinelago Welcome to Namambe and tell us more about yourself
W: Thank you Kashindi for the opportunity, and as you rightly put it my name is Ndinelago Kankoto Sheehama.
I am well-known as Mee Wawaz. I will explain later in the interview how this name came about.
I was born in Nakayale Hospital and grew up at Nakambalu village which is a stone’s throw away from Nakayale ELCIN Parish in Omusati Region.
I went to the kindergarten at Keller, now Sakeus Ihuhwa Primary School. Some of my former teachers that I can remember were the late Tatekulu Kamaa, Meme Jacobina Shingenge, the late Meme Louise Shingenge and Meme Ndapewa Kasheya Nangombe.
After spending time in kindergarten, my Mom Jacobina Taukondjele Sheehama and my Dad, David Sheehama decided to send me to Oilyateko Catholic Girls School in Uukwaluudhi. They felt that if I go there I will learn home economics and traditional household chores. This plan turned out to be good because it benefitted me a lot in my later years. I honestly appreciate their effort in this regard.
From Oilyateko I went to Okavu Primary School which has now been renamed John Pandeni Combined School. Unfortunately, I spent only about two weeks at this new school. The political landscape was changing fast and the fight between the South African Colonial Forces and PLAN fighters was intensifying. People were leaving Namibia en masse to join SWAPO in exile. The majority of them in my area were crossing the Angolan border at night. During that time most of my siblings left home already and gone to Angola.
These were uncle Philip Shiweva, Tate Sunny, Tate Maya, Chax Biggie, Dacosta and Ras Sheehama. I also decided to follow suit to join them wherever I will find them. I could not withstand what was happening at home as our house has been a prime target of koevoet soldiers, planting bombs and harassing the family due to my father’ support for SWAPO. Koevoet was a notorious counterinsurgency branch of the South West African Police (SWAPOL), that committed various atrocities against civilians who were pro-SWAPO. In this regard, I told myself that I have to leave Onakambalu, come hell or high water and that was January 1980. By the way, our village is approximately 30 KM away from the Namibia/Angolan border.
I shared my plan to go into exile with a lady called Nangula Auyuni from Onawa village. Nangula used to stay with her aunt Meme Ndako who was a nurse at Nakayale hospital which is close to our village.
After I expressed my desire to go in exile, she told me that she knew where my brothers were and we could just go and see them. I was too young and naïve that time and I could not tell that she was just telling me lies. Consequently, I believed her and agreed to go with her, in fact, she was pregnant that time.
I had a small bicycle that I used to commute with to Okavu Primary School, and she took Tauno’s bicycle. Tauno was her cousin, the son of Mee Ndako, a nurse where Nangula was staying. So we took our bicycles and left for Angola, that is how I went into exile the rest is history.
In Angola I was taken to Lubago and moved to primary schools in Kwaza-Zul and later to Nyango in Zambia.
Later on SWAPO sent me with other young comrades to Cameroon in West Africa to study.
In a nutshell that is me and I would say I qualify to be called a 100% former freedom fighter because I contributed to the national liberation struggle in my own way and I am proud of it, LOL.
When the war was over I was based in France and had to come for elections and went back. As time goes we had to return back to Namibia for good and start to build our lives. I realised that I have a passion for the food industry and I need training in order to achieve my goals.
In this regard, I enrolled with a college in the UK through Monitronics College in Windhoek to do a diploma in Travel and Tourism (hospitality). I also did a diploma in entrepreneurship with Wits Business school.
However, this was not sufficient to be qualified as a Chef, then I decided to go to Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) to be trained as a Chef through their hotel school. I was trained by Chef Rauf and Chef Mariam and that is where I met this humble lady Maria Shinyata whom you had also interviewed a month ago. She taught me a lot and I would like to extend my sincere appreciation for her efforts. May God bless her and all those who played a role in my training!
K: Having been in West Africa, how would you describe food security in those countries?
W: Oh, yes, talking about food security in West Africa, they have access to nutritious food. They fortunate because the receive rains almost every time which enable them to produce sufficient food for own consumption and export.
Similarly, I would also say I witnessed some good things in France as far as food security is concerned. I am going to use some techniques that I have seen there, unfortunately I can’t share them with you now because I am planning to use them in my upcoming project.
K: How many languages do you speak?
W: I am fluent in Oshiwambo, English and French. I can also communicate a little bit in Portuguese, Afrikaans and Dutch.
K: How did the idea come about to start Wawaz and what is in the name?
W: The idea of Wawaz came about when I realized that every fast food outlet such as KFC, Nandos, Hungry Lions, Debonair Pizzas, etc is owned or originated from foreign countries. That compelled me to develop a unique recipe for Wawaz using only local healthy ingredients.
Talking about the name Wawaz? Yeah I came from Ombaanhu and chicken wings in Oshimbaanhu is called ouwawa.
I took out the first two letters “OU” then I added the last letter “Z” so it became Wawaz.
With the help of the young stars namely Hango, Malizoh, Crizoh Pocket Power, Karlu, Lang’s, the late Patrau and KB the name started to become popular and they started calling me Mee Wawaz. Initially I didn’t like it, later on I started to love it. From there I registered my business to trade as Wawas Trading cc. I salute you all who helped to create my special business name.
K: When did your interest in food service start?
W: I started to develop interest in food service when I was a young girl, my beloved late Mom Jacobina Taukondjele Sheehama “Die Mee” loved cooking. She inspired me a lot and I learned a lot from her cooking skills. May her soul continue to rest in eternal peace.
K: For how long have you been running your business?
W: I have been running business for 14 years, as a cook, waitress, cleaner, menu designer, site Chef, a Private Chef, salesperson, caterer and many more, Jack of all trades.
Throughout my career, I became more interested in food preservation, food tourism, healthy food preparation, food nutrition, food care and safety, food hygiene, food production just to mention a few. I am looking forward to receiving tangible results in my career as I am busy drawing up a “ Food Security Project” which is my dream for the past 14 years.
K: Do you remember what your first job was?
W: I use to babysit and do home care.
K: What is your customers favourite food?
W: My regular customers like Fimaz (oshifima, porridge) Nyamaz (ombelela, red meat) Hie’z (eehi vekangwa, fried fish) hwiliz (liver) Panaz (Okapana, Roasted Meat) and of course the famous “Wawaz” chicken wings.
K: Where is your business located, and what type of services do you currently offer to clients?
We are located at Kamselle Namibia Outapi, alongside Oshikati/Ruacana main road and a 5 minute drive from the famous Ombalantu Baobab tree. But we also do catering throughout Namibia and if possible outside the country, why not. In this regard, we are currently offering anything you wish to eat by order at your own choice. Alternatively if you do not want to make special orders you can enjoy what our regular customers enjoy. Indeed, we are definitely flexible, we can cook for you whatever you like depending on the availability of the type of food that is available in the area as long as you are prepared to pay for our excellent services and healthy/exotic foods.
K: These days many people are complaining that they are sitting at home with their diplomas and degrees, what advice would you give to them?
My advice especially to the young people with diplomas, degrees etc, is that there is no shortcut in life. If you are sleeping the whole night and again during the day you are only looking at your beautiful papers, it won’t help you to get a job. Please get out of your house or comfort zone and start looking for a simple job. If you can’t find what you studied for try to do menial jobs such as babysitting, cleaning houses, shop teller, bartenders to gain some experience while applying for other jobs. In addition start selling little things that can generate money. You should also think of volunteering your services where you do something but not paid or just given small allowances in order to gain experience.
It will also be good to start associating yourself with people who might lift you up, avoid negative people and start using your smartphone for productive purposes (if you have one) alternatively you can borrow from friends and relatives. The journey to get employment is touch therefore it is worth smiling when you meet people and keep humble. Well behaved and trusted people always stand a good chance to be considered for opportunities when they arise. Your future is in your hand so try to read newspapers and search the internet for relevant information and listen to inspirational stories from various sources.
K: What would you say are 2 of your biggest successes, one personal and one professional?
W: My two biggest personal successes are my sense of humour and being humble from birth.
I definitely appreciate every single day I wake up.
Professionally I love my work, it is a hard job but I always do it the best because I am passionate about being in the kitchen.
I definitely deliver as I promise. I have catered for so many organizations, government institutions, private functions etc.
I am yet to receive a contract for at least 4 year, still waiting within my mind
K: Do you face any challenges in your business, if so what is that you need in order to overcome them?
W: Absolutely, there are challenges every day in business, there is always this and that. I must emphasize this because many young people are afraid of facing challenges in life or at work place.
People’s attitudes needs to change in order to embrace change and think positively if they want to live a better life.
K: How do to you want to expand your business and employ more people in your community?
W: I definitely want to have a 24 hours food service, this would enable me to create more job opportunities for our people because people will work in shifts.
Currently, I have a project in mind which could employ 50-100 people or more in my region and other regions in Namibia.
This project is unique and will contribute to food security and it merely needs funding for its implementation and I am ready to discuss it with potential investors/development partners
K: I observed that there are usually many weddings taking place in your region, what type of a working relationship between a chef and a wedding planner (if available) would you recommend to help achieve the success of a wedding reception (s). (Of course in rural areas sometimes it may happen that there is no wedding planner and the bride and groom or their best men/women are the one to run the show and coordinate everything).
W: I didn’t really do lots of weddings, but I think if the organiser for a particular wedding (not necessarily a wedding planner) who might in most cases be a close family member communicates well with the Chef, I am pretty sure that the wedding will have well-prepared food and guests will enjoy the occasion.
In this regard, I suggest that the brides or grooms can propose who their chef would be, sit together and share information with the organiser(s) and get advice and cooking tips from the chef so that she or he can advise what would be best for the function within a given budget.
Ideally, there must be only one chef in the kitchen and this works like in offices or at construction sites where instructions and directives are given by one person so that things can go on smoothly.
We need to communicate with service providers because it will be in the best interest of all parties and everybody will be happy.
There is a big difference between cooking in the house for 10 people and cooking for masses of 50 – 1000 people.
In general, we all assume can cook, but there is always a difference in our final products. We as Chefs can work together, especially if we know each other and we help one another with sharing recipes and other ingredients.
There is no competition in cooking, we just cook to satisfy our customers and we are always eager to learn and get advice/feedback from our clients. The only cooking recipe that I cannot share with you is Wawaz, it remains a business secret like any other.
K: What makes you smile every day and what irritates you the most at work?
W: The free air I breathe, the clean environment I live in, makes me smile every day.
Let me share with you, I wake up every day around 5AM, I take a walk 3 times a week from Nakambalu to Okakwa kaNakale just by the water canal and back, that is almost 3 km.
Then I take a shower whilst singing. Thereafter I look myself in the mirror to reflect and thank the creator. In my view every person is special and unique. Anyway my routine is that before I leave the house for work I pray to the almighty for protection and guidance.
But hey I get irritated the most by:
People who want to run other people’s businesses while they don’t try any,
People who are liars and jealous (negative) for nothing.
People who do not love and appreciate themselves.
People who litter and destroy the environment (one of the main reasons for the lack of rainfall)
People who talk about things they do not know,
People who undermine others,
People who are lazy to think, clean, and even take care of their own bodies
K: If you are given a huge sum of money what is that you will immediately change in your region?
W: As I mentioned earlier if get that opportunity I have three projects that could bring changes in the region, mostly through employment and corporate social responsibility to support vulnerable people in society. Unfortunately, at this moment I can’t disclose information about my upcoming projects.
K: Who is your role model (if any) and what is that you have learned from him or her?
W: My role models are so many, I am inspired by my customers, genuine friends, genuine people, and good family members,
I cannot mention everyone by name, because they know themselves but I would love to mention a young woman called Mwatile Ndinoshiho, she inspired me so much.
My Chef Rauf, the kindest Chef I have ever met, my Chef Mariam, my young Chefs all around Namibia, you are all great and I love you from the bottom of my heart.
My brother Zzzzzzz the most honest person in business … and all of you my supportive friends from all around Namibia and overseas, and mostly my dearest husband. I am deeply indebted to my customers for their continued support. I am smiling because of you my people.
I can’t leave out Mr. Leo hard Kutz, ( Leo garden Restaurant), My German family, The Gschwender Family and the whole entire Namibian people.
May god bless you all. I am very grateful for your kind assistance when I faced numerous challenges in life.
K: Is there anything else that you want to share with our readers this festive season?
W: Since I m a chef I would like to encourage wedding planners to prioritize good food over tents and decoration. Meaning it is better to spend more money on food so that people can eat, drink and enjoy themselves, instead of spending too much money on tents and decorations. This will ensure that many people will be happy especially those who travelled from far. In addition, it is better for people to be on time instead of eating late and start rushing because it is getting dark to drive back especially weddings that take place in at homesteads in rural areas. Probably those that take place in urban towns in halls and hotels don’t have problems. So I think wedding planners need to discuss this issue with the brides and grooms.
Please allow me to give my humble appreciation to Tate Kamselle Namibia for giving me the opportunity to operate from his place “.
I also appreciate Mr Om4 for giving me the opportunity to operate at his place @ Kamselle Namibia no2 Greenwell.
Furthermore, I appreciate my Biggie for giving me N$100 start-up capital, Mr. Beedu (Kapandja) for bringing people together and lots of customers, Ras Sheehama for saving my life in exile and Chrizo Pocket Power for working nicely together. A big thank you to my whole family, all my friends, and customers. I love you all and I am still here hustling. I am progressing because of your enormous support.
K: By the way, how did Ras Sheehama save your life in exile?
W: Eish, I was very sick with Malaria in Nyango, Zambia and what I needed at that time was just tea and bread. It was difficult to get that because of limited resources, so Ras had to go and sell some of his favourite clothes to buy me tea and bread. After he brought it, Hilma Shimaneni aka Mee Ndeshi prepared it for me and I fully recovered. Had it not been for his effort I could have been dead by now.
Lastly please enjoy your holiday and let us respect everyone’s hustle, the economic struggle is still long and challenging.
Let us help one another wherever we can.
And congratulations to all the newly wedded people, may God keep on blessing you and please drive safely.to arrive alive.
How can you be contacted?
I can be contacted at:
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile phone & WhatsApp: +264 81 859 4866
- Young ones see how I started. Suffer first and enjoy later
- I was a site Chef demonstrating or rather showing kids and others how to prepare Kalimbeza rice,, our very own rice from Zambezi region,, representing Agribusdev