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Proximity to Europeans is What Gave Africans Gari

I saw this on Instagram yesterday and my heart nearly jumped out of my chest.

I mean.

My God.

I could NOT believe what I was reading. How was I seeing what I was seeing? Who was the man who threw these words together to spout this nonsense? Surely, it had to be a white man, because no woman in her right mind (black, white or other) would be clueless enough to make this assertion. Only a man would do something this wicked.

Proximity to Europeans is what gave the Wapixana people gari???

Please, I’m not here to write a think piece about appropriation and Anglo Saxon’s propensity for hijacking culture. We are passed those days, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they can’t help it. Furthermore, I’m just tired. And add to that, they’ve been doing this since the days of Rome. Romans were notorious cultural and intellectual appropriators, going even as far as forcing their enslaved African and Greek captives to tutor their children and then forbidding them to use that knowledge to advance their own communities. (I swear. Look it up.) So this behavior is just a continuation of an ancient tic. Nevertheless…we have gari because of Europeans?

Sir! Which European country grows and harvests cassava? What is the European equivalent of fufu? Is there gari foto on any menu in Paris or Spain? Why do you insist on besmirching National Geographic’s good name with these lies? Is this the direction Rupert Murdoch is taking the once reputable publication in? Are we now to expect flagrant non-truths just because they are accompanied by a captivating picture?

Lies and deceit!

I tell you, I haven’t been this offended since some British man brought himself into the jollof wars and made the insidious claim that African’s never created jollof at all. I wish I could unearth that tweet, but it’s been two years hence and I hope he’s had the good sense to delete it by now. Concerning jollof: We all know it originated from Sene-Gambia. We know this, we don’t care. There are only two types of jollof vying for dominance in the jollof wars: Ghana jollof and its inferior counterpart, Naija jollof. We acknowledge Senegal’s contribution as the originator, therefore making their presence or participation in this culinary skirmish not required. But do you know what this obroni man said?

“Jollof was most likely created by French soldiers who required tasty, nutritious, one-pot style meals to feed their garrisons in West Africa.”

That’s what he said. That the FRENCH created jollof. Don’t worry! As for him, we chased him away! And then Jamie Oliver too went to throw lemon wedge on the side of his plate of anemic, soupy rice and dared to dub it “jollof”.



Now this gari-stealing Gerd Ludwig has brought himself too to claim that Europeans created gari. God in his golden kente robe. Why do these people insist on trying us like this? First they said Bo Derek created cornrows. Then they said Bjork created Bantu knots.

All the pleeenty appropriations in one horrendous shot. Source: xenecole

All the pleeenty appropriations in one horrendous shot.
Source: xenecole

Now they are telling us ‘Europeans’ created gari. Not the African slaves who had to live and work alongside the natives in Latin America ooo… Septimus dems. Next thing you know, they will claim that George Washington is responsible for the creation of grits.

Citizens. I don’t know how much of this my heart can take. They are trying to erase us and we are letting them. Instead of fighting for our heritage, we are fighting about whether a man and a woman have the right to physical intimacy after the performing of their traditional marriage. As if standing in front of a sweating priest in a white robe ever stopped any African from expressing their affections.

Don’t let them do this. Stand up. This Gerd fellow sounds Belgian, and those Belgians have been ruthless where Africa is concerned. The Belgians cut off the limbs and lips from Africans that they colonized. They burned people alive in vats of boiling oil. Over 200 years ago, they destroyed whole communities and those fractured states have yet to recover. Please don’t let them do this to gari.



This article has 13 comments

  1. Biche | ChickAboutTown.com

    “They are trying to erase us and we are letting them. ”

    That may be how it feels living in the US, but wait until you move to S.A. You’ll learn to ignore them and ignore such foolishness. If those are the stories they want to tell themselves (whoever they are), they can go right ahead. We will remain grounded in the truth of who we are, remembering and passing on as much of our history as we can to the next generation. Nobody can take that away from us…if we don’t let them! The most important struggle is not to be fought in the public arena…that’s neither here nor there…the bigger battle is how we live our truth in our societies and our everyday lives and how much of that we pass on to and anchor the next generation in. Said most respectfully, of course. 🙂

    • Malaka

      My friend. You’ve heard of Belgian chocolate? Where are the cocoa trees and Belgium?! And yet that is the most expensive chocolate you can get. It’s branded as “Belgian”. like it’s the best and they are the originators. They are winning!

      • Biche | ChickAboutTown.com

        Ha! Let’s also be honest with ourselves. I’ve had Ghanaian chocolate, and I have also had Belgian chocolate. Even if the raw material is the same and originated from Africa, the end product is not. Let’s give credit where it’s due. Let’s also pull up our socks and produce product that is incontrovertible. People know to look for Kenyan Tea or authentic Ghanaian Kente cloth. Last but not least, let’s also learn to get real good at telling our own stories otherwise someone else will tell whatever version of it they want. (It pisses me off that the hashtag #Africa on Instagram is all animals and safaris. Who’s fault is it, though, that many of us Africans with access to mobile technology simply use Instagram for posting selfies? Surely, that’s not all on “them”.)

        • Malaka

          Point taken. Ghanaian chocolate SUCKS. We have to take responsibility for that.

        • Akua

          Repeat the latter 2 sentences please! Our world seems to be in a new order of vanity. I, frankly, think it is a form of mental illness and lack of self-esteem and a want for approval (by likes). I promote Africa where I can.

          • Biche | ChickAboutTown.com

            I so feel you, Akua. I mean…how many selfies can one person take?! Really, “you” don’t interest me that much. When I see vain selfies (you know the ones: not just pictures of someone documenting a moment in time or someone sharing that they were in a location or with people that are cool, but the ones that are all butt sticking out, puckered duck face…hey look at me, I am so cool), I just unfollow the person. Surely, there is more to life than that! 🙂

  2. ncuni

    1. Belgian chocolate is awful. Sickly. I only eat Green&Black’s.
    2. God in his golden Kente robe.
    3. This post is EVERYTHING!

    • Malaka

      😱😱😱 You love Green & Black’s too??? It’s the only chocolate worth eating, in my humble opinion. We are kindred, you and I!

  3. ncuni

    “Romans were notorious cultural and intellectual appropriators, going even as far as forcing their enslaved African and Greek captives to tutor their children and then forbidding them to use that knowledge to advance their own communities.”

    We are more than kindred. You were in my lounge LAST NIGHT watching TV with me. I SWEAR. BBC4 Jerusalem: The Making of a Holy City. Because I watched this last night and I never knew it before then!

    That and G&B. Blood orange is my current fave.

  4. Ama

    I have been on a self-imposed chocolate famine for nearly ten years now. (Voting against them, with my purse:) Marketing chocolate as Fair Trade does not sway me.

    I promise you, this is not a nostalgia trip, but Ghana’s Golden Tree WAS the ‘realest’ chocolate ever, when production started in the 60s! You could actually smell it as you unwrapped it. As for the taste, out of this world! The First Republic threw everything in to beat the Swiss and Belgian impostors. After all, we grew the best cocoa beans, had two sugar mills (at Komenda and Asutuare), and a cattle ranch on the Accra plains to supply the milk. And orange and other essences to flavour the chocolate, from the fruits that Nsawam Cannery made delicious marmalades and jams from. Unfortunately, the high levels of taste, texture and production standards expired shortly after the coup in 1966, never to resurrect again:( It breaks my heart to find Fererro Rocher,, Cadbury’s etc on sale in the shops in the departure lounge at the airport in Accra. Heresy!

    Oyibo’s penchant for appropriating what is ours is never-ending. First they rubbish our foods in order to sell us theirs. Then when they discover the amazing nutritional content of ours, they claim it for themselves. How else for example, can you explain the manic marketing of GMO-laced Frytol, (that tasteless, odourless cooking oil made from GMO canola and corn) that is creating the explosion in obesity in Ghana? Compare that with their new-found love for coconut oil. They are literally guzzling the stuff – from ‘pulling’ it round their teeth and gums to prevent cavities, to cooking everything with it, as we used to. There is also a video going viral about the miraculous effects on Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc.

    So gari is their latest property? Cassava, gari’s source, a much maligned tuber, contains more iron than plantain and many other nutrients as well. The Ewe word for cassava is ‘Agbeli’ which simply means, ‘Life’. Go figure!

    It is time we believe in ourselves and what we have.
    Great article, as usual.

    • Malaka

      Even the chocolate I came to meet in the 80s was much to write home about. It was smooth, fragrant and slipped on your tongue like silk. I can only imagine what the original experience was like if you consider THAT product inferior!

      As for these people and their hijacking…humph. We can’t rely on “not minding” them. And you’re so spot on about their evangelism tactics telling us how are African products are inferior and then turning around and selling them back to us in 20 to 30 years! They do the same thing in the ghetto over here in America as well! All the trends that black people are derided for all of a sudden become high fashion once the white establishment gets their hands on it. They did it with rock ‘n’ roll, they did it with cornrows, and they’ve done it with southern food. Gari, as you said, is merely the latest exploit.

      I wish we were truly Africans and stood up against this mess. That’s another blog topic on its own.

    • Akua

      Well said! I concur.

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