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Making fire like the granny

Written by Gabi Khumalo

Know your Deputy Minister: Water and Environmental Affairs

A new method of making coal fires has been taken to communities to help prevent pollution of the environment and reduce the dangers associated with winter fires.

The new method was announced by Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Rejoice Mabudafhasi during the launch of the Winter Clean Fires campaign recently.

Make fire like the granny

The “Basa Njengo Magogo” (make fire like the granny) method is aimed at reducing outdoor pollution, which results from burning coal, especially in low-income households or settlements.

Basa Njengo Magogo is a ‘top-down’ model of making coal fire discovered by Granny Maria Nobelungu Mashinini of eMbalenhle in Secunda.

Unlike the popular traditional way, the new method is done by putting coal first, then paper, followed by wood and then lighting the fire. When the wood catches fire, one puts a handful of coal on top to light the coal at the bottom.

“With this method, the fire in the stove or imbawula (self-made movable stoves) will be ready for use much sooner. It will save you coal and money, it will burn longer, your health will improve and you will be able to see longer distances due to the massive reduction of smoke emissions,” said Mabudafhasi. The method is being rolled out in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Free State, where coal use is at the highest.

Granny Mashinini

Granny Mashinini said she learned to make fire in this way from the elders when she was 11 years old.

“They would tell me that I must make a fire using the method to protect the young children from inhaling smoke, which brings many sicknesses. Now that you know the method too, spread the word so that you may save many lives and protect our environment,” said Mashinini. 

For more information, call the Department of Water and Environmental Affairs on 086 111 2468 or 012 310 3911