Dying African Snacks

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Woman selling roasted plantain (boli)

Most African snacks have lost their popularity owing to many factors among them the insanitary environment in which they are prepared, lack of modern methods of their processing and poor packaging

|  By Chinwe Okafor  |  Mar. 10, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

NGOZI Ndumuanya, a mother of three is in love with local snacks called popcorn. She buys popcorn for her children every day and is always seen along the railway area of Ikeja every evening as she joins other consumers queuing to get some packs of popcorn for her kids.  Her children, according to her, enjoy the snack as well as she does. “Whenever I get home in the evening, my kids already know what they are expecting from me and when I don’t buy it for them; they frown their faces and get angry at me,” Ndumuanya said.

Woman selling roasted corn and african pear
Woman selling roasted corn and african pear

Ifeanyi Obi, who makes and sells popcorn along the railway line at Ikeja, said business has been very good because he usually gets a lot of patronage from passers-by returning home after the day’s work. He said the business does not require much capital because popcorn can be either made locally with a pot or  with a machine which is specially built for its preparation. “I do not have any regrets venturing into the business because I make my daily sales and I also make sure I keep my equipments clean because of airborne diseases.”

Unlike Ndumuanya, Bolaji Asunde, a motorcyclist, loves to eat boli (roasted plantain) and groundnut every afternoon. He is so attracted to the snack because he believes it’s very cheap. “I do not fail to have a taste of it on a daily basis,” he said. Ndumuanya and Asunde are among the numerous others who patronize African snacks.

Apart from popcorn and roasted plantain, there are many other African snacks such as kuli kuli, which is made from groundnuts, bean cake (akara), plantain chips and fried breadfruits with palm kernel nuts among others. In the words of Adebayo Afolayan, a fashion designer, some of the snacks evoke childhood memories in him. “In those days, we usually eat kuli kuli with garri and sugar. There was kokoro too, which is always very delicious, but most of these snacks are no longer available; it is either that those making them have changed business due to low patronage or lack of finance. My grandchildren don’t even know about all these snacks,” he said

A plantain chips seller
A plantain chips seller

According to him, every young Nigerian born in the rural areas between the 50s and 80s loved these snacks, most of which are now very scarce. He said aside the scarcity, the environment in which some of them were prepared might have affected their popularity today. However, Emelda Oranebo, a caterer, said these African snacks are indeed delicious but lack of a mechanized process of preparation makes some of the snacks tasking to most caterers while some consumers are worried over the sanitary conditions in which they are prepared.

Oranebo said: “Any caterer who decides to venture into such snacks which are time consuming will just suffer for nothing because they are capital-intensive and with no commensurate profit to show for them. The whole money might go into buying groundnut oil and paying so much labour. The process is time-consuming, more expensive and more so they cannot compete with imported snacks which are better packaged.”

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