Sandisiwe Dlamini and the chilli pepper business

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By processing chilli peppers, Black Mamba wants to give something back to the rural population. In a short portrait, Sandisiwe Dlamini, Food Safety Officer, reveals how.

The chillies that Black Mamba uses for its products are grown organically by a network of 50 women smallholder farmers. ©Black Mamba Chillies, 2023

By Sandisiwe Dlamini

Sandisiwe Dlamini joined Black Mamba Chillies as Food Safety Officer in February 2021. She studied Food Science and Technology at the University of Eswatini and then worked as a laboratory analyst and quality manager in the IT industry.

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By Jan Rübel

Jan Rübel is author at Zeitenspiegel Reportagen, a columnist at Yahoo and writes for national newspapers and magazines. He studied History and Middle Eastern Studies.

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In the beginning, it was pure curiosity. "I always wanted to know what was really in our food," says Sandisiwe Dlamini as she sorts through the bottles at her stall. This thirst for knowledge led her to pursue a bachelor's degree in food technology at the University of Swaziland, and eventually to a small company with (according to its own website) a "hot story"; it was, after all, all about hot chilli sauces.

 

The company name sounds dangerous: Black Mamba is a poisonous snake which is well known in Eswatini, and "our xxxtra hot Peri-Peri sauce really packs a punch," says Dlamini. She has been responsible for standards and hygiene at Black Mamba for two years, "a dream job", she says. And it’s a win-win story: in the beginning, in 2010, the company was born out of a vision. Joe Roques from Eswatini, was passionate about chillies, and his Colombian wife Claudia Castellanos, wanted to do something that would make the world a better place. The combination resulted in Black Mamba: a fun, fiery & sustainable business that manufactures a range of sauces and pestos based around chilli peppers that have a great combination of heat and flavour; the spiciness of the hottest one, called xxxtra hot Peri-Peri, is indeed mind-blowing.

 

The company lives up to its vision of making the world a better place by working with a network of 60 smallholder farmers, mostly women, who grow organic herbs and chillies through regenerative agriculture methods. "This is how we give back to the community," says Dlamini.

 

"Through our demand, we create jobs, provide market access to these farmers, empower women and ensure sustainable use of the planet."

 

As a studied food scientist, it is important to Dlamini that the products contain no additives, but only fresh ingredients.

 

In the beginning, the company founders Claudia and Joe sold their sauces at the famous "Bushfire" festival 2010; 400 bottles were sold out in no time, and the two knew: they could make it work. Today, Black Mamba products can be purchased online worldwide and are already sold in large quantities to chilli lovers in the UK, UAE and USA. And Germany? Dlamini laughs. "That's just a matter of time."

 

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