His name is Jesaya Hasheni Pawa but also known as Cuzen. His name is a familiar if not popular at the Single Quarters as lovers of kapana have come to know him for serving the best and perfectly roasted meat in Katutura.
Cuzen has established himself not only into a brand but a favourite amongst stands all serving the same dish.
With the Cuzen brand, he has come to stand out not only via his image but the manner in which he invites and keeps his audience engaged while serving the people’s delicacy.
Imagine having to stand all day taking in the heat from both the fire and hungover customers in need of a fix. Imagine doing the same thing over and over again like it was the first time.
“It’s not hard because serving people and making their day has become a daily goal for me,” said Cuzen.
Like many young people who are currently enjoying what they do, Cuzen started this venture just for fun. Since selling kapana is a family business, he recalls the day their usual employee did not want to braai kapana anymore so he and his cousin had to step in. And that’s where this name Cuzen was born.
Fresh out of school in 2014 then, his popularity helped to pull a crowd to his space which made him realize how much he could score.
“The beginning was nice because you really didnt know much. Every day was just the best. I remember there was a Monday that I didnt go to work because I was chopping the little money I got,” he joked.
Slowly but surely getting to understand the game and now knowing how to maneuver around, Cuzen realized that being a people’s person was an advantage by all means. It was obvious that his colleagues had their own customers who go straight to them so he needed to do the same. This was the beginning of the brand Cuzen.
“Everybody was calling customers either sister, bozza or some funny name. I felt calling someone sister connoted a very close relation which many people may not like. Hence I came up with the idea of calling my customers ‘cousin’ (which he writes as Cuzen). I believe as cousins, we are not that close but we are still part of a circle.”
The name grew to what is today visible as a clothing brand and almost every other kapana seller has the shirt on. Cuzen is now a clothing brand registered under Cuzen Investment CC offering other services.
“Initially when we started, it was just me but actually everyone is now Cuzen. It is also working for them. Only a few know that I came up with the idea but I am happy that it is working for all of us.”
With his popularity at the stands increasing and having to meet different faces every day, Cuzen says he got to know his customers. “I know my customers. Maybe not all the names but I know the faces. It is hard to ask someone for their name when you see them every day but the few I know I try to always remember their names.”
“It is a humbling experience to know that people come all the way from their houses to buy kapana at my stand specifically.”
Without sharing his recipe and what makes his kapana special, Cuzen said it take more than just putting the meat on the braai stand.
“There is kapana everywhere but I make mine differently. I know there is competition but I also know mine will sell.”
“There is a way to make it. Some people use oil to make it soft but I don’t. I use natural fat. It makes the meat soft and tender. We also use the metal plates for braai-ing while other people use the normal steel. The plates have small holes which prevent too much smoke entering the meat. The wood also differs. It affects the smell of the meat. Also, my pieces are small, tender and soft, which is what people want.”
Over the three years in the business, Cuzen says his relationship with people has opened doors for him outside the Single Quarters. Last year, he was invited to operate his business at the Cassper Nyovest show in Walvis Bay. For the first time, the people of Walvis Bay could have kapana on the beach the following day.
His second tender was a call to go braai kapana at the event of the First Lady Monica Geingos at Ramatex. As if this was not enough, he got his second call to still go serve kapana at Club London, another event of the first lady.
Cuzen says besides the perception that those who sell kapana make a lot of money, this is actually not so. On a good day, the family business can slaughter two cows for business. However, due to the high prices of meat, he says profits are not in favour.
On top of that, he says just like any other business, selling kapana also has its day. “Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the toughest. You can put meat and it will dries up because there are no customers.”
Enduring the heat from the fire and the sun itself may also cause health implications. “It is a very risky environment to work in that is why I go for check-ups now and then just to make sure that everything is ok.”
If you have been pondering on when you will first taste the people’s delicacy (kapana), your cousin is waiting for you to make your first experience worth remembering.