African food is the world’s least popular cuisine. In terms of adoption, two schools of thought emerge: first, the worst offenders are Africans who refuse to have anything to do with their food. Second, concerns of colonialism and slavery influenced the unfavourable impression of African food as well as the adoption of other cultures’ cuisines. English food is popular in Zimbabwe, yet French food is popular in Francophone countries such as Mali and Senegal. It’s worth noting that colonisers not only plundered native foods but also undermined local food systems and traditions.
Culinary schools in Zimbabwe and Africa, in general, take a proactive approach to teach European cuisine, with just a little amount of time devoted to local cuisines. Culinary schools in Africa continue to teach European cuisine, even though the decolonisation paradigm is a popular topic among academics. Wouldn’t it be great if these institutions began teaching African food for most of the year and devoted one week to European cuisine? Same with how the corporate world appreciates African Food when It’s Africa Day or Heritage Day in South Africa. Shouldn’t this be a normal practice for Africans?
Furthermore, African foods are easier to come by in townships than in the core business areas of Zimbabwe’s big cities. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and other African countries are in the same boat. It is very easy to find non-local cuisine in Bulawayo CBD, but you will have to go a little deeper if you want to find native delicacies. The same is true for flights, buses, hotels, and schools. In these places, it’s difficult to find any traces of traditional meals. A visitor from London has a 99 percent probability of having an English breakfast in a Nyanga hotel. The same cannot be said for someone traveling from Namibia’s Kunene Region to New York and expecting to see a serving of Oshuungu. This raises the question of what kind of food is appropriate for consumption in public settings.
Young people must rise and embrace their culinary heritage in the future. Young people must be appreciative and proud of their food, and without their support, Africa’s culinary legacy may be lost forever. Knowledge about indigenous food preparation must be preserved among adults, particularly grandparents, village elders, and historians. It will be difficult to have any meaningful conservation If there is no meaningful data. As proponents of their own culture, African Food must be firstly embraced by Its people. Its people should be proud of eating and carrying local dishes.
Nobody wants to witness an African Chef from Malawi presenting French Cuisine at an international cooking competition (like the current Olympics in Japan). Malawian cuisine is something that people would like to see. Something has to change, as such thinking suggests. Furthermore, the future African food industry should have a high level of UBUNTU – ‘I am because we are’ – food preparation that is in line with human connectivity and nature. In the future, Africa will require a new food system. One for Africa and all African nationals. One that brings our societies, cultures, values, and livelihoods back to life.
Returning to these traditional techniques is difficult, but it is the only healthy alternative we have in the future.