Leite azedo, soured milk, is both a culinary tradition and a milk preservation method typical of the Mucubal ethnic group in the southern Angolan province of Namibe. Cow’s milk is collected in a hollowed-out gourd, a container which is not washed. After being left to rest for a few hours, the fermented milk is then shaken for a good half hour by the Mucubal women. The milk can then be kept for around a week. It is added to funje, a cornmeal porridge, to create the typical Mucubal dish maìne or manhini, to which dried mutton or beef is added. Leite azedo is only produced for home consumption and is not available for sale.
The thicker cream that forms on the surface of the milk is mixed with powder ground from a reddish rock to make a body cream used primarily as protection against the sun. This mixture gives the bodies of the Mucubal, who typically wear little clothing, a reddish, earthy color.
The semi-nomadic Mucubal herders who live in the arid zones around Bibala , in Namibe province, have long nourished themselves with this food. Changes to the climate, which grew particularly serious in 2011, have rendered the zones where the Mucubal live too arid for grazing animals. The survival of their cattle is now under threat. As a result, milk is scarce and the Mucubal are going through what is essentially a forced conversion from nomadic herders to sedentary farmers. The historic production area is around the towns of Virei and Bibala in Namibe province. Many indigenous ethnic groups live here, with the Mucubal one of the most important.Back to the archive >