People From All Backgrounds Drink Tombo [analysis]

A random survey by New Era yesterday (Wednesday) indicates people from all spectrums of life are addicted to tombo.

Tombo is a cheap home-made brew.

Once a person starts drinking this fermented brew it is easy to get addicted, respondents that New Era spoke to, revealed yesterday.

One man who only gave his name as Browny said, “we neglect our wives and children because we don’t have jobs. We don’t eat all day long, we just spend our time at the tombo house where we drink it on empty stomachs and that affects our health negatively.”

He added tombo drinking holes must be investigated by authorities because many operate in unhygienic environments and owners do not allow customers to use their toilets despite the fact that they spend most of their time there.

“It is impossible for someone to wake up early in the morning at 4am and all they want is to drink tombo. Many who sell tombo use juju to attract and keep customers and they must be investigated,” Browny charged.

Browny, a former South West Africa Territory Force (SWATF) soldier said he has been unable to get a job since independence.

“I have applied so many times for jobs but my applications are always rejected. If I go to the councillor’s office for assistance, I do not get any. The councillor only helps some people but not tombo drinkers,” he complained.

Marembo Mukoya said some people take aantage of tombo drinkers.

“They pick us up here at the tombo house and take us to go and do handy work and hard labour for them all day long. At the end of the day they just pay you a N$7 because they picked us up at a tombo house. What will you do with a N$7 when life is so expensive?” asked Mukoya.

“A lot of people here had good jobs. We have people from all kinds of professional backgrounds here. There are teachers, bricklayers, police officers, military personnel and even human resources practitioners, who spend all their time drinking tombo here. I was a human resources practitioner before I started coming here to drink tombo. Sometimes I think of my life and wonder what happened,” said a drinker who did not want to be named at a house selling tombo in Wanaheda.

He said people drink tombo mainly because it is cheap. “Some people start with beer until they can no longer afford it and then they start drinking tombo,” said the eloquent young man who is currently unemployed.

A 750-millilitre glass of tombo costs about N$ 2.50 while a 1.5 litre jar costs N$ 3.50 compared to a 750 millilitre bottle of beer that costs between N$ 12 and N$ 15 depending where it is sold.

“Tombo is cheap. Even if you don’t have money you find a way to drink it”, the young man said.

An elderly man who also did not want to be identified said “we drink so much of this drink (tombo) because we don’t have jobs. The circumstances in which we find ourselves force us to come and drink tombo”.

“I worked as a funeral service employee for many years. I got tired of seeing dead bodies all the time and it started bothering me a lot. At night I could not sleep well, that is how I started drinking,” said a middle-aged man who also did not want to be identified.

He said having worked among the dead since 1992 and when the emotional pressure which developed over the years got too much in 2000, he resigned from his undertaker job.

Another man, Immanu Louw said he spends most of his time at the tombo house because he has nothing else to do. “I am used to being here and that is why I drink tombo,” Louw added.

Ester Shivute, a tombo business owner has been in the trade for over 20 years.

She said is in the trade to make a living for her family.

Shivute said she does not make enough money for her to live a comfortable life but it is enough for her to sustain her family and pay bills.

The single mother said she has to care for her children and extended family from the money she makes from selling the traditional brew.

Business opens at 06h30 and closes at 11h30. Tombo, she says does not really make her customers drunk.

“As you can see they are well behaved. The problem only comes when they mix the tombo with other alcoholic drinks. That is when you will see people fighting here,” she added swiftly when New Era visited her at around 11h00 yesterday.

“Nobody wants to sell alcohol. It is the impoverished circumstances in which we find ourselves that force us to sell tombo. If people suggest a better business idea for me to pursue, I will embrace it,” explained Shivute.

Source : New Era

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