38 years of roasting for a living

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69-YEAR-OLD Dorika Mbewe is a familiar face to anyone who loves the taste of roasted maize, groundnuts or Cassava from Lusaka’s Chelstone Bus Stop near the famous huge tank on the Great East Road.

For 38 years, Dorika has been consistent – arriving every morning from her three-roomed house in Kamanga’s Overspill area, lighting her brazier and getting to work under the leafy Monkey Biscuit (musekese) Tree.

Dried roast cassava, sweet maize cobs, salted groundnuts and sometimes a variety of fruits are usually what she has on offer for her customers.

She explains that over the years, the business has been a bag of mixed fortunes but has continued nonetheless to feed her children and grandchildren.

“If this was a profitable business, I would have left a long time ago but it is not and I can’t stop because this is what feeds me,” she says.

Despite the challenges of business and the little profits she realises from the venture, there is no dispute that the widowed Dorika is a hardworking and committed business woman.

Asked what advice she would give to young people who may not have the same zeal towards self-reliance or fighting spirit but have instead resorted to alcohol consumption, Dorika responds; “There is nothing I can say because I also have my own children who do nothing but drink beer and depend on me to feed them.”

Dorika’s husband with whom she had 10 children died in 1989 and now has nine grandchildren.

With the little profits, Dorika hopes to one day complete the construction of her house, get it connected with water and electricity and then build her own shop nearer home.

Story by Salim Dawood and pictures by Melony Chisanga.

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