According to an old adage, necessity is the mother of invention; it forces people to find alternative ways and tools. In Zimbabwe today, devising skills to survive is the norm of daily living.
As a means to cope with erratic electricity power cuts that are undoubtedly a defining characteristic of the ongoing socioeconomic crisis in Zimbabwe, many Zimbabweans living in urban areas have resorted to using the tsotso stove because of its low labor and energy saving characteristics.
Traditionally, rural as well as low-income households have always depended on fuelwood, which usually chews up loads of firewood, thereby endangering the environment.
However, in urban areas firewood for use as domestic fuel is always in short supply or simply too expensive.
The tsotso stove, which is inspired by the traditional hearth fire, is a specially designed open clay pot with openings at its sides where you put little sticks of wood to make a fire.
The tsotso stove helps to reduce firewood consumption compared to normal traditional open hearth fires. It is stable and portable; it uses small pieces of wood and saves fuel.
In the Shona language, tsotso literally means little sticks of firewood, and it is these little sticks that the tsotso stove employs to make a fire that can cook a meal to feed a whole family.
The tsotso stove uses much less wood and has an insulated combustion chamber, which helps reduce smoke while increasing the heat output and burning efficiency.
The sticks, usually from thorn trees, come in a bundle and cost very little. A bundle of the sticks can potentially cook approximately 6 to 10 meals, saving energy and labor in the process.
The tsotso stove is so convenient because it can be carried from one place to the other, and can therefore be used if when it is raining. In addition, it utilizes minimal amounts of wood, which does not jeopardize the environment.
All in all, the tsotso stove is highly desirable because it is fast cooking, produces less smoke and is environmentally friendly and requires very small amounts of wood fuel.