With the rain comes the Omajowa mushrooms

The termite hill mushrooms are quite unique to Namibia. “Omajowa” is a Herero and Ovambo word for our Namibian termite or anthill mushroom. They are a variety of edible fungi, that locals love and hunt during the season. No humankind has been able to grow them; they only grow on tall termite mounds of central and northern part of Namibia. The fungi play a significant role in the emergence of social homeostasis in Termite colonies. In a remarkable way, it is actually not the termites that cultivate the fungi, but the fungi that are cultivating the termites. Omajowa occur only during the rainy season, appear at the foot of termite hills after the rains and can weigh up to 1kg. Farm workers collect them and bring them to the roadside for sale. Those mushrooms are delicious and are served in formal restaurants and lodges. In rural areas, people collect these fungi which replace meat in many meals. Once mature, the mushroom needs to be harvested and consumed quickly as there is a lot of small insects that feed on it; they can be eaten cooked or raw. The mushroom is seen as a symbol of growth, and prosperity by Namibians and is highly valued in Namibian culture.

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