Part of the re-Africanization process is learning your culture, and your roots. You really couldn’t do that without paying attention to the food!It is true that Africa is not a country, but a continent, with many different cuisines. However, the basis of the African diet seems consistent as you can see here.
As the African Heritage Diet Pyramid illustrates, this diet is based on whole, fresh plant foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens; tubers like yams and sweet potatoes; beans of all kinds; nuts and peanuts; rice, ﬂatbreads and other grain foods, especially whole grains; healthy oils; homemade sauces and marinades of herbs and spices; ﬁsh, eggs, poultry and yogurt. It’s naturally low in processed sugar, unhealthy types of fats, and sodium, and includes only small amounts of meats and sweets.
Growing up on a West Indian diet, we ate a lot of the foods that West Africans eat with the exception of fufu. We all have our variations of soups, stews and rice. And we tend to boil our provisions while West Africans tend to mash theirs. We also don’t use teff or sorghum. It’s very simple then, for a West Indian to adopt an African diet particularly since Caribean and African grocers offer many of the same foods, spices and oils. However, if you were raised on a more Western diet, it will take some time to learn to cook like an African.
I have made it a goal to perfect one new African recipe a month. This month I would start easy with omo tuo (rice balls) from Ghana, usually served with fufu and a variety of soups! It’s something I know both my son and I would enjoy.
Learning an African language is an important aspect of reAfricanization and one I take so seriously that I don’t even want English spoken in my house, just Asante Twi or other African dialects (I’m dating an African man who speaks both Twi and Yoruba). Learning an African language isn’t easy because I do not have the opportunity to practice my Asante Twi very often since I live in a small, rural town.
However, if you are dedicated to learning an African language, there is a lot of resources and all it takes is determination, practice and discipline. I found that this comprehensive website is very thorough and has a lot of information, as well as being a reAfricanization website who’s purpose is to assist the African in the Diaspora in their journey. Here Here is a basic Twi language website that’s great because it has pronunciation from an African, and not some random bot.
There are a number of Asante Twi and other language apps. I use Twi Junior which is good for beginners, and Twi Proverbs which is just nice to have. My goal is to memorize the Asante proverbs I like. I also listen to Ghanaian music on YouTube although it’s not 100% certain the songs are all in that dialect, but the music is actually good and upbeat and puts me in the right mind frame when I’m studying Twi. The best tutorial on YouTube is GoldCoastDebuty. She makes learning Twi fun!
I hope to be fluent in Asante Twi by Kwanzaa this year, and I believe in everybody young and old who are reconnecting with their African roots! We can do this!
African champions must break the chain that links African ideas to European ones, and listen to the voice of the ancestors without European interpreters.
I have put the Akan language Bambara aside for now in favour of Asante Twi, which is far easier to learn and more fun. I don’t know why my heart wasn’t into Bambara, but when I began learning Twi, I felt alive. I felt as if my ancestors were telling me this is right, this is for you to learn. I honestly felt a spiritual connection to the Asante Twi language, despite the fact it is unlikely my ancestors were Akan. Only 3% of the Akan tribe arrived in my Caribbean island via the slave trade. 67% arrived from Southeast Nigeria (Igbo) and Cameroon. So I should probably be learning Yoruba. But Twi is so fun and I love Ghanian culture and music!
It is super easy for me to teach my son. His favourite Twi word is “kraka kraka” meaning “small small” or “a little”. We watch @goldcoastdebuty on YouTube, Gloria is amazing and vibrant. We also use the Junior Twi app for Android, and I have created an Asante Twi notebook with phrases, words, song lyrics and the national anthem, which you should listen to because it’s in your face awesome.
Our ancestors want us to continue where they left off before those European slave ships arrived. We are indoctrinated with European ideas but Africa is inside of us, we just have to listen to the voice of our ancestors. It doesn’t hurt to learn their language. A’se, sisters and brothers. Mendase!