HomeNewsQuelea birds ‘invade’ Christmas Pass

Quelea birds ‘invade’ Christmas Pass

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Despite motorists using the Christmas Pass to and from Mutare expressing concerns over delays they are encountering because of the ongoing rehabilitation of the road, vendors selling deep-fried Quelea birds to passengers have found an open and ready market.

Jairos Saunyama Own Correspondent

The delicacy, which is popularly known in Manicaland Province as Ngozha or simply “little chickens” is bringing fortunes
to vendors who are coming from as far as Nyanyadzi to Christmas Pass where they are selling like hot cakes.

In a survey conducted by NewsDay, motorists from other areas, especially from Harare, are falling for the “little chickens” that are usually gleaming with fat laced with chilli powder.

The little chickens are going for $1 for a packet of 10.

Villagers, mainly from Chipinge, Wengeza and Chimanimani districts are seen with huge sacks coming to Christmas Pass to sell the delicacy.

With motorists from either sides having to wait for an average of 15 minutes to pave way for each other due to road maintenance taking place at the site, vendors take the opportunity to approach drivers and passengers to sell Ngozha and others wares.

The business of selling Ngozha is usually practised in the drought-stricken areas of the Lowveld, especially at Tanganda junction, Chakohwa bus terminus, Wengezi and Birchenough Bridge Growth Point.

In an interview, motorists said the “little chickens” are delicious and worth every dollar.

“I used to hear about these quelea birds and how delicious they are until today when I had a chance to eat them. They are very delicious and juicy,” said a motorist from Harare who identified himself as Sox.

“I tasted the delicious birds while on my way to Mutare five months ago and from that day I have never stopped picking a packet each time I pass through Christmas Pass,” said Tonderai Murenga, a kombi driver who plies the Mutare-Harare route.

Bernard Saungweme from Dangamvura is one of the vendors making fortunes from selling the grain-eating birds that usually move around in thousands.

“I get the birds from Chipinge where they cost $1 for 25 or 30 birds. Here I sell them for $1 for 10 birds and I realise more than $65 dollars on a good day,” said Saungweme.

Some vendors do travel from Chipinge to sell the birds.

“I came here yesterday from Chipinge with two sacks of Ngozha and I am hoping that two days from now they will all be gone and I will be going back to fetch some more. I expect to get more than $200 from these two sacks,” said Blessing Muyambo from Chipinge.

“I pray that the road construction goes on until next year so that we pick more money from motorist and passengers.

“I have been here for three months now and I can put food on the table,” he said.

Quelea birds are usually found in the Lowveld especially in Chipinge and Nyanyadzi.

The little birds fly in large groups and feed on grain.

Villagers use nets to catch large quantities of birds and in some instances they catch more than 500 birds at a time.

In the evening villagers go to nearby bushes, where the birds are trapped using wide nets and glue popularly known in vernacular as urimbo.

After trapping the birds are deep-fried, and then spiced with chilli, salt and other ingredients.

Despite their size, the little birds are naturally fatty.

The birds are not welcome in the Lowveld and other areas countrywide as they consume huge quantities of small grain such as sorghum, wheat and millet.

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