A f r i c a n


A f r i c a n

Kathleen Tracy


Mason Crest PO Box 221876, Hollywood, FL 33022 (866) MCP-BOOK (toll-free) • www.masoncrest.com

Copyright © 2023 by Mason Crest, an imprint of National Highlights, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Printed in the United States of America First printing 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ISBN (hardback) 978-1-4222-4676-4 ISBN (series) 978-1-4222-4675-7 ISBN (ebook) 978-1-4222-7135-3 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Tracy, Kathleen, author. Title: African / Kathy Tracy. Other titles: Customs, culture & cuisine: African | Customs, culture & cuisine. Description: First printing. | Hollywood, FL : Mason Crest, 2023. | Series: Customs, culture & cuisine | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2022006717 | ISBN 9781422246764 (hardback) | ISBN 9781422271353 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Food habits—Africa. | Cooking, African. | Africa—Civilization. Classification: LCC GT2853.A35 T73 2023 | DDC 394.12096—dc23/eng/20220215

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K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this book. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field. Research Project: Readers are pointed toward an area of further inquiry that relates to each book and encourages deeper research and analysis. Introduction:............................................................ 6 Chapter 1: The North. .............................................. 9 Chapter 2: The South. ............................................ 23 Chapter 3: The West............................................... 37 Chapter 4: East & Central Africa. ............................. 51 Chapter 5: African Food in America.......................... 65 Research Project. ................................................... 74 Glossary of Key Terms. ............................................ 75 Further Reading. ..................................................... 76 Internet Resources.................................................. 77 Index. .................................................................... 78 Author’s Biography & Credits................................... 80 CONTENTS


The Middle East might be the cradle of civilization, but Africa is the birthplace of humanity, where the first early humans evolved around two million years ago. Although Asia is bigger in landmass, Africa has the largest number of countries of any continent, many with complex histories. There are more than three thousand recognized ethnic groups in Africa and more than two thousand spoken languages or dialects. For much of recorded history, starting with the ancient Greeks and Romans, Europeans colonized large areas of Africa. In the nineteenth century’s age of colonization, France, Britain, Germany, and Spain claimed swaths of land that were home to many previously independent tribal nations now forced to live under one colonial flag. So once European countries granted former colonies independence in the twentieth century, there was often a struggle between ethnic groups looking to stake out their own sovereign land. Over the centuries, Islamic, Catholic, and Protestant faithful have come to different areas of Africa hoping to convert its people. For as important as political and religious colonization was in the evolution of African culture, nothing trumps Mother Nature. Due to its vast size, Africa has five distinct ecosystems: ocean and seacoasts, deserts, mountains, woodland-grasslands (savanna), and forests/ rainforests. Some countries have multiple ecosystems, and over the millennia, Africans have adapted to those specific conditions, which determine local agriculture and resources—or lack thereof. The five regions and their countries are:  The North: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Western Sahara (Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic), and Tunisia.  The South: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.  The West: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire,



Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.  The East: Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.  Central: Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé-and-Principe. While Islamic, European, and even Asian Indian influences are abundant throughout Africa, its five main regions boast distinctive cultures that are reflected in the arts, clothing traditions, and, especially, the cuisine,

which connects people to both their cultural past and their familial present. There is no single African style of cooking. Instead, there is a rich diversity

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that makes each region

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INGREDIENTS: corn, barley, butter, honey, lamb’s milk,

onions, saffron, coriander, eggs, almonds, and pigeon


There are few bodies of water more important to the advancement of humankind than the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient Minoans, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Greeks, and Romans relied on the sea, the superhighway of its day, to conduct trade, wage war, and advance their cultures. While the great Mediterranean civilizations peaked and waned, the Indigenous people of Northern Africa, the Amazigh (am uh ZEEK), remained a constant. Based on Egyptian and Greek writings and archeological evidence, the Amazigh (also known as Berbers) in the region can be traced back to around 3500 BCE and remained the dominant ethnic group and culture in the area for more than four thousand years. Culturally Strong One reason their culture remained relatively stable was because of the Sahara, the largest hot desert in the world. Its almost unimaginable size, 3.5 million square miles (5.6 million square kilometers), covers about a third of the continent. By comparison, the area of the entire continental United States is 3.1 million square miles (five million square kilometers). That often inhospitable desert was extremely effective in isolating the northern region


Sand dunes stretch as far as the eye can see in the Libyan Sahara Desert.

from sub-Saharan African cultures. Although various civilizations periodically controlled the area, they didn’t replace the local culture. For example, in the second century BCE, Rome waged war against Carthage (now present-day Tunisia), one of the most important trading ports on the Mediterranean. Rome won, and in the process, destroyed the city. Roman engineers eventually rebuilt Carthage under Julius Caesar and made it the capital of the Roman Empire’s Africa Province. During that period, the Amazigh co-existed with their conquerors but never adopted Roman culture in lieu of their own. Of course, conquerors came and usually went after a few centuries or so. That would change with the Arab conquest. Arabs Arrive In the seventh century CE, the prophet Mohammad urged his early followers to seek refuge in Africa to escape religious persecution.



Arabs were familiar with the Mediterranean coast through their trade with the region, and there were already some established Arab communities in Northern Africa. So, seven years after the prophet’s death, four thousand Muslim warriors led by Amr ibn al-As invaded and conquered Egypt. That began a systematic move west through the region over the following centuries. The Arab influence brought significant changes to the region beyond a new religion, such as bringing camels to Northern Africa. The animal’s ability to thrive in the Sahara’s brutal desert conditions, where it can easily reach 120° Fahrenheit (49° Celsius) in the summer and drop to below freezing in places during the winter, made for a reliable form of transportation year-round, which expanded trade and made it easier to communicate over longer distances.

Camels are not native to Africa. They were introduced to Northern Africa by Arab refugees in the seventh century.

Chapter 1: The North


Acceptance, not Assimilation While there was initially some resistance from the Amazigh as Arab control spread, it waned within a couple of generations, and by the eleventh century, Northern Africa was predominantly Muslim, including many Amazigh. For those Amazigh, acceptance was initially in a governmental and political sense as opposed to religious. Traditional African religions


To call a Northern Africa souk a marketplace is like calling the nearby Walmart Superstore a local mom-and-pop bodega. Ancient records indicated the first souks developed around 3000 BCE in Persia (known there as bazaars) as a way for local traders to barter or sell their wares. Caravans would set up a one-day market outside of town as they passed through. More than just a retail venue, musicians would often entertain potential customers. By the tenth century, souks were commonplace in the region. As populations grew, the souks moved inside city walls and became permanent. Both small, local cultural events and important religious festivals would take place at the souk . Today souks are bustling, colorful marketplaces that sell all manner of goods and food. From Dakhla, Western Sahara, to Cairo, Egypt, souks are located in the medina (old town section) and have become popular tourist destinations. The most famous souks are in Marrakesh, Morocco, which are laid out like giant mazes. Some are so big that tourists are warned about getting lost inside. One tradition of the souk that endures is haggling over prices, which is part of the fun for both buyers and sellers.



across the continent, which varied by tribe or by region, were passed down through stories, folk tales, songs, and festivals rather than by teachings contained in a holy book like the Bible, Torah, or Qur’an. These religions called for: reverence of the dead, honoring many gods (some more important than others) through celebrations and offerings, and encouraging a belief in magic. Elements of that remained. While conversion to Islam was not mandatory—there was no threat to life or limb—but those who didn’t convert paid more in taxes and were banned from holding any public position. So, the Amazigh slowly but increasingly adopted Islam, but again, they did so while also maintaining their traditional language, art, cuisine, and other cultural touchstones, which still holds true today.

The mosques of Sultan Hassan and Al-Rifai in Cairo, Egypt are symbols of the historical adoption of Islam throughout the region.

Chapter 1: The North


This colorful market is located in the city of Meknes, Morocco, in the western part of the Maghreb.

Maghreb Millions It is currently estimated that there are between 30 and 40 million Amazigh in Northern Africa, the majority in Algeria, Libya, and Morocco, which are located in an area called the Maghreb, which spans from Libya in the east to Morocco in the west, and the Mediterranean and Sahara to the north and south. The Atlas Mountain range that runs through the Maghreb separates the coastal areas from the desert. The varied geography impacts the food resources that are available, so some countries like Tunisia, for example, may utilize seafood more while others may cook more corn-based dishes.



Master chef Gordon Ramsay explores the culinary capital of Morocco, Fez.

Dining in Northern Africa is like walking through a time machine because today’s cuisine isn’t that much different from when the Arabs established their rule in the seventh century. Many current dishes are made from recipes that are believed to be at least a thousand years old. Amazigh Cuisine There is arguably no nation in the region more recognized or familiar to Western culture than Egypt. The irony is that most associate Egypt with the Middle East because of its historical political entanglements with that region and because geographically, it’s a bit of a tweener country, linking Africa and the Middle East. While Egypt is famed for its archeological treasures and ancient structures and monuments,

Chapter 1: The North


when it comes to food, the center of Northern African cuisine is the Maghreb. Since the Amazigh cultural footprint extends throughout Northern Africa, there are some traditions that are similar everywhere in the region. Still, at the same time, each country, and many regions within the countries, have developed local traditions, food dishes, and dining etiquette they call their own. For example, in the Atlas Mountains region around Khénifra, in Northern Morocco, the cuisine of the Zayanes tribe is very simple, based almost entirely on corn, barley, butter, honey, lamb’s milk, and organ meat. A traditional dish in Khénifra is ahriche , which is made with stomach fat and organ meat from a lamb or some other animal wrapped on a stick with tripe (intestines) and cooked over hot coals. In Tunisia, mussels are a common appetizer and are likely to be followed by an entire roasted lamb cooked either on a spit or in a pit dug in the ground, a style called mechoui . The cooked lamb is eaten

Mussels are a typical appetizer served in the coastal regions of Northern Africa.



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