The International Green Week -Berlin in my own Words by Mighty Mwashekele

 

“What an experience to cook for a different audience in The Namibian way!!!”

It was something totally different and way beyond our expectations, friendly and beautiful people with open hearts, arms and appetites welcomed and enjoyed our meals and got a lot of positive feedback. Germany had a lot to offer. We went on different excursions were we got too see its rich historic background from the famous Berlin Wall to the 368 meters tall TV tower.

I loved the rotating restaurant and the view it has over Berlin. Simply Stunning!!!

We got the chance to try out different mouth-watering cuisines ranging from Togo to Asian then back to Kenya. If we could turn back the hand of time would be a most obvious thing to do.

Public transports are way different and kind of tricky compared to our everyday lives. Everyone seems to be in a rush and everything was quite fast and big. I love the fact that everyone is very friendly and actually hard working, it motivated me more that in order to achieve ones dreams hardwork is a must.

I now believe that one doesn’t necessarily have to go look for greener pastures elsewhere but rather water your own grass and it will eventually also become green.

Thank you a million times to the DEG, BMZ and everyone that contributed to this lifetime opportunity.

Kind regards,

Mighty Mwashekele

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My take on Berlin and the International Green Week 2016 by Uerihepura Mbuende

I would like to start by saying Berlin is a welcoming mega city, nothing I have ever experienced before.

It is safe to say that I had a lot of fun and learned a lot at the same time. I love the fact that Berlin is a multicultural city with many nations from all over the world. The people are welcoming, loving, respectful and polite.

We were fortunate enough to be under the care of the Namibian embassy in Berlin and they were helpful and made sure we were taken care of, I felt welcomed by them, thank you to them.

We went on so many different excursions where we got to see most, but not all part of the city since Berlin is such a big city. My favourite places were the Berlin wall, because I heard so much about this place and it was a privilege to see and touch it, the TV tower was breath-taking, highest point in Berlin which is 368m tall with a rotating restaurant (what else could you ask for?).

The food was amazing, rich in flavour and simply just beautiful. I had the best ever ceaser salad at the restaurant called Rosa and the best home-made cheese cake at Miss Sabine Huth place.

As for the International Green Week fair,  I learned so much at this fair; saw a lot of food items from different nations, for example,  donkey sausage and different types of olives.

Berlin was simply amazing and and I have nothing but good memories of my time spent there. I will take those good memories and use it to equip myself with strength and use them as a motivation to work hard, because the people in Germany are very hard working, I certainly will learn to be more caring and polite.

Things that we normally take for granted. I will start using the words thank you and please all the times. Because they say “Bitteschun” which means thank you, every time they speak.

Yours,

Uerihepura “Uerii” Mbuende

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Namibian Institute of Culinary Education (NICE) graduate chefs cook up a storm in Berlin

International Green Week - Berlin 2016

International Green Week – Berlin 2016

Two graduate chefs from the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education (NICE), Uerihepura Mbuende and Mighty-Power Mwashekele, cooked up a storm with their dish when they participated in a live cooking show at the International Green Week in Berlin in Germany.

The live cooking show at the world’s leading consumer trade fair and exhibition for agriculture, food and horticulture from January 15-24 was part of an entertaining and informative programme of events on the topic of agriculture and food supplies in developing countries. It was organised by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) under the slogan “A world without hunger is possible”. The two chefs were very excited to showcase their cooking skills and introduce contemporary Namibian cuisine to the German audience. Their mouthwatering dish – “Namibian style” beef fillet with traditional pap and sweet potato fries – was prepared in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience which consisted of trade fair visitors, students, journalists, and members of the Namibian Embassy in Berlin.

Anyone who had a chance to taste the food confirmed that it was delicious and worth the wait. Mwashekele said: “It was a great privilege to be part of the International Green Week. We met friendly people with open hearts and arms and healthy appetites who enjoyed our meals. The feedback we received was very positive and we learned a lot.” Mbuende and Mwashekele’s participation at the Green Week and their stay in Berlin was sponsored and facilitated by the German Investment and Development Company (DEG) and the BMZ, both of which have supported the training programme at the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education NICE in the past. The Namibian chef finishing and hospitality training school has attracted global attention by being featured, for example, on CNN’s famous-African Voices programme and Germany’s ARD, one of the world’s biggest public broadcasters.

Founded in 2006 by the local business personality, Stephan Brückner, NICE has helped many young Namibians to achieve their goals and live their dreams in the booming hospitality industry. According to Mwasheke, “all graduates who pass through the NICE training programme have a good chance to secure employment, both locally and internationally”.

The International Green Week is an annual event which was initiated in 1926 and today hosts about 1,660 exhibitors from around the globe. In its 90th year and attracting around 400,000 visitors, it showcases the global food industry and highlights innovations in the fields of agriculture and horticulture. During their stay in Germany, the Namibian chefs also had the opportunity to experience the exciting Berlin restaurant and food scene which includes esoteric food halls, street food markets, numerous food-related start-ups and gourmet Michelin-starred establishments.

“Berlin was amazing and what’s left of it is just good memories. I will take those good memories and use it to equip myself with strength and motivation to work hard, because the people in Germany are very hard working. I will learn to be more caring and polite. Things that we normally take for granted.” – Uerihepura Mbuende

Asian food was a highlight for Mbuende, as he “never imagined it could be that tasty”. Inspired, he is already considering integrating Asian flavours into his own recipes back home, something that visitors to the NICE restaurant surely can look forward to.

Indigenous Desert Trackers Return To Historical Homeland

For the first time in the history of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, visitors to Wolwedans are now able to experience a guided track through the world’s oldest desert with descendants of the prehistoric natives of the area. The excursion is of particular interest because the guides who conduct the activity are of Khwe heritage, an ethnic group which forms part of a nation of people who may sometimes be collectively referred to as “Bushmen” or “San”.

 

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Known historically for their aptitude as skilled hunter-gatherers, the San have mastered the art of interpreting patterns in nature. Such patterns may include animal prints or tracks, elements of weather and changes in vegetation. As a consequence of their nomadic lifestyles, San people in Namibia have often fallen subject to ridicule, mistreatment, marginalization and in some cases ethnocide. Throughout the annals of history, their way of life, cultural heritage and even their language has come under threat. Encouraging cultural diversity and promoting the upliftment of all human beings regardless of their creed or race are values which Wolwedans holds dear.

The use of Khwe guides at Wolwedans is certainly a feat that the Team is very proud of. The initiative would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Traditional Environmental Knowledge and Outreach Academy (TEKOA), which strives to preserve indigenous knowledge about: traditional culture; the art of tracking and the medicinal value of selected flora or fauna.

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By providing employment to the Khwe, entire families from a disadvantaged community are given an opportunity to become financially self-sufficient. The new activity is a testament to Wolwedans’ commitment to the upliftment of local communities whilst simultaneously adding value to each guest experience. Ultimately the development of community, culture, conservation and commerce is central to the Wolwedans Way.

 

Selma’s Story: From strength to strength after leaving Desert Academy

wolwedans foundation logo - text - SmallMy Name is Selma Simaneka Benjamin and I was born 13 December 1986 in the Northern part of Namibia at a small village called Onawa in Owamboland. I later grew up with my grandmother at Omaalala where I spend a great deal of my childhood.

I never dreamed of working in the tourism industry. Busy with my job of presenting the breakfast show on base fm one morning  when an advert in the local daily newspaper caught my attention: ’we are looking for young people with the fire in the belly’. I took it upon myself to apply to the Desert Academy, the vocational training program run by the Wolwedans Foundation - teaching young Namibians all aspects of the hospitality industry before helping to launch them into the industry. I had already forgotten I applied, when the phone call came. The interview process was out of this world, little did I know then that taking part in the pilot project would change my life forever – I got bitten by the tourism bug!

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Being enrolled at the Desert Academy for six months was amazing, my head was buzzing with a whole lot of information – not only from the theory. The books hardly did justice to the practical experience I received.

The Wolwedans team was extremely dedicated to passing on the practical skills to us – whilst still having to focus on doing their job really well as not to compromise on the quality of service offered to guests.

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The whole experience was amazing; from theory to practical all was well organized and I believe if I had studied somewhere else the result would not have been precisely the same.  The uniqueness of the Desert Academy from all other institutes is that you are exposed 1st hand, as you step out of the theory classes you step right into the practical lessons, making it so much easier to understand and grasp all information learned.

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to me back than in 2007 with the DA as it has paved the way to the industry for me and made me into the bulldog I’m becoming today.  Although things are always slightly different, when you are working for other companies (each has their own policies on how they operate at the end of the day), quality in service delivery towards guests is something all establishments have in common. I have worked for a number of top lodges in Namibia and I must give credit to all my colleagues and my managers for the mentorship as they have contributed towards my growth and skills in the industry.

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I must also admit to get where I’m today it has not been a walk in the park. You have to work hard and sacrifice a lot – from your beauty sleep, to family and friends and your social life sometimes goes out the window, but all this can be gained back once you find your rhythm and balance and execute your time wisely.

With tourism I learn that you have to be passionate about working with people. It can be quite a challenge, but also lots of fun as you meet a lot of great people from all walks of life. My advice to other newcomers to the industry: ‘never take information for granted, never stop learning, stay humble, be friendly, be honest towards yourself and others, work hard, always go the extra mile for yourself and guests, challenge yourself, be yourself, never be afraid to grow as a person as opportunities are always there, maintain a good reputation and allow your work to speak in volumes and pave ways for your growth within the industry.’

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Now with my 1st management position at Ongula Village Homestead & Lodge, it’s a huge challenge as the smooth operation of the lodge is all dependant on me making the right decisions. Thanks to a supportive team and management, I’m also happy to be promoting cultural tourism in my region and help educating the community to understand the importance of tourism making them benefit from it all in terms of job creation and bringing better infrastructure.  The best part of all this Owamboland is always buzzing with energy and this is definitely the heartbeat of Namibia.