Jessica Leigh Thornton

Tucked away on the windswept southernmost Coast of Namibia, Lüderitz stands as a testament to resilience and cultural richness where German colonialism contributed vastly more exports and imports than was officially acknowledged (Press, 2021). 

Although the town has undergone severe transformation from the concentration camp on Shark Island, to the discovery of diamonds, and the redevelopment of the waterfront, there is still a strong connection to the bucht (bay) where individuals proudly refer to themselves as Buchters; people of the bay (Alexander, 2010).

Among Lüderitz’s many treasures is Buchter food heritage, a culinary tradition that reflects the town's German colonial past and vibrant multicultural present. The roots of Buchter cuisine in Lüderitz traces back to the late 19th century when German settlers arrived in the region, bringing with them their culinary traditions and flavours (Arebbusch, 2022). Over the years, these influences merged with local ingredients and cooking techniques, giving rise to a unique fusion of German and Namibian cuisine known as Buchter food. At the heart of Buchter cuisine are hearty dishes that celebrate the land's bounty and the sea's abundance. From hearty stews and sausages to freshly caught seafood and artisanal bread, Buchter food is a reflection of the town's maritime heritage and cultural diversity. One of the individuals interviewed in Lüderitz shared that “food is like a way of bonding”.

With the current waterfront and port developments in Lüderitz, the town is looking towards the future, as there is a growing emphasis on embracing sustainable practices that honour the town's natural resources and cultural heritage. Lüderitz has rich marine biodiversity and is uniquely positioned to lead the way in sustainable seafood sourcing and conservation. The town is increasingly incorporating sustainable seafood options into their menus, partnering with local fishermen and adhering to responsible fishing practices. This is reiterated by one of the residents in Lüderitz, who said they would “go from school to the sea then go make your food there”. Fishing initiatives are also gaining momentum in Lüderitz, empowering residents to embrace a more sustainable way of living and rather eating seafood than meat. We were told that “it has been there all these years they got to regulate the industry, they have to regulate the resource . You cannot not bypass that stock out there that needs to be controlled. You are allowed to catch 7 lobsters per day. You can eat 7 lobsters every day so it makes sense but that for the recreational commercial guys is different. They have a quota and the government or country has a TAC and you have to adhere to that. Now our TSA was granted yesterday a 180 tons for the season. Everybody has its quota who ever has right in the fishing for lobster”.

While sustainability is essential for preserving heritage in Lüderitz, innovation and creativity also play a vital role in keeping the traditions alive. Chefs and home cooks in Lüderitz are experimenting with new flavours and techniques, incorporating indigenous ingredients and modern cooking methods to put a contemporary spin on traditional Buchter dishes. In addition to this, food festivals and cultural events offer opportunities for residents and visitors to come together and celebrate Lüderitz’s culinary heritage, showcasing the diversity and richness of Buchter cuisine. One Buchter told us of the annual Crayfish Festival. He shared that it has been growing and is a success since people come from all over the country and there is crayfish for sale; “it is like 3 days of great fun here in town. It brings a lot of business for town”.

By embracing both tradition and innovation, Lüderitz can ensure that its heritage legacy continues to thrive in the years to come, while shaping a more resilient and vibrant future for generations to come.

 

 

 

References:

Arebbusch. (2022). Why we love Lüderitz. [Online] Available from:

 https://www.arebbusch.com/travel-blog/why-we-love-luderitz/ [Accessed 15 April 2024].

 

Alexander, N. (2010). Kolmanskop: an industrial heritage resource or only a tourist attraction?: the assessment of value with regard to Kolmanskop Ghost Town and the industrial landscape of the Sperrgebiet National Park, Namibia. Unpublished Master of Philosophy in Conservation of the Built Environment, University of Cape Town: Cape Town. Available from:

https://open.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11427/12793/thesis_ebe_2010_alexander_kolmanskop_dissertation.pdf?sequence=1 [ Accessed: 15 April 2024].

 

Press, S. (2021). Blood and Diamonds. [Online] Available at

https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/calendar/press_-_blood_and_diamonds.pdf  [Accessed: 15 April 2024].

 
Posted on 20 April 2024 12:39:49


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