The concept of Ubuntu dictates that umuntu ngumutu ngabantu. Motho ke motho ka batho. This concept subscribes to the processualism of ubuntu. In the African…
Established in the early nineties in Dobsonville, and borrowing the seTswana name Serobe (Cutlets of tripe meat) distinct themselves by reducing the fat in beef tripe, served on a bowl and a separate dish for pap. Ko Serobeng restaurant is a homely venue with an African ambience an aroma of the rich traditional food, a colorful social atmosphere with surprise guests on any given day.
Margaret Makaelo Molefe has always been a hard worker. The seventh child from a family of fourteen relates that life was tough for her and her siblings. With their mother having been aged, she had to fend for her family by doing menial jobs, working for years as a domestic and at a printing firm. After recovering from an accident of being knocked by a car, an idea came to her that she starts the business of cooking Serobe.
As she started two to three customers would come and buy her meal in a day, and she was forced to throw off the remaining tripe as the meat spoils quick. As customers grew in number so did her confidence. She purchased a vehicle, and would wake up at 3am and head off to the abattoir in Krugersdorp and be the first to queue up for the fresh meat stock. Going back home she would then clean the tripe thoroughly before cooking.
As time elapsed the few 5Kg packets grew to 30 and so on. The business grew, as the pots became bigger, she asked her son Foreman Sebola to leave his factory work and assist her with business responsibilities. As she meticulously cleaned the tripe foreman delicately cut the pieces. Later on Nondumiso, Foreman’s wife joined in and sold raw tripe packs to households.
Ko Serobeng became a household name in Dobsonville, the venue was now a sit in restaurant with a traditional but welcoming, neat set-up. People spread the word as public servants and all classes of society, both young and old come in numbers for a sumptuous lunch and can attest to the delicious taste and aroma that gives Serobe a distinct top meal for any season.
Gogo Makaelo said it was tough starting the business but persistence paid off. Her sister Mokgadi Sebola also affirms that cleaning the meat is a lot of work. Presently they even get bulk orders where people would purchase the whole cooked pot and go sell somewhere else. She also mentioned the her strong selling points that keep clients coming back were the thorough cleaning of the tripe, meticulous handling of the pots in the cooking process, serving her customers with pride, offering them a dish and cloth to wash hands, etc.
The old lady has since stepped down as she had achieved her legacy and can no longer keep up with the rigorous work. The couple continued running the business successfully until Foreman’s untimely death.
To date Nondumiso has been hands on in the business and tells of the early days support they got from taxi drivers and businessmen from Soweto back in the nineties. She also tells of her son Tshepo contributing innovative ideas to the family business. With technology to repel insects in the business as an example, scoring points with health standards. Her mom mentions that she is impressed by his passion and dedication to the business. He designed the logo for the restaurant and his client service is top notch.
Nondumiso stocks up the meat, helps out in the restaurant, and sees to it that queues move fast when it gets very busy. “It is very important to connect with customers”, she added. She says some of her visitors come as far as the Vaal triangle. But her major challenge is battling with suppliers as she orders big bulk packs, who don’t offer her any discount. But she gets creative in dealing with them. The beverages company Coca Cola, supply the bottled drinks by a company rep.
The shift starts at 6am, but they open for business at 8am, seven days a week. She likes the vigor of the dedicated youth staff and pleasant mannerism in the business, especially from young men. “Business is rewarding if you put effort in it”, this she says as she discloses some of the luxuries she has accomplished. “There are new clients on a daily basis, everyone wants mogodu meal at anytime.
“We cater for weddings, church functions, society clubs and pubs who order bulk meals on Mondays”. We have even hosted DJ’s from Jozi, Motsweding, Metro as well as Kaya FM who proudly promote their restaurant on radio. Overseas tourists visit the venue on several occasions.
Serobe is always available during power failures. Confirmed Nondumiso. Satisfied clients keep me going”, she says. “When God gives you a gift, just hold on to it and ask for wisdom. The festive season indicates how busy we will be in the New Year!” She concludes. The venue is easily accessible and there is ample parking space.
Jerry Sokhupe Soweto Sunrise News