On Friday and mostly on Saturday, April 13-14, 2012, Columbia University's School of International Policy held the 9th Annual African Economic Forum. Nick Tattersall, Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics Journalism at Columbia University, introduced t he first keynote speaker: Sanusi Lamido Sanusi , Governor of Nigeria's Central Bank. Mr. Sanusi hails from Northern Nigeria; on Wikipedia , he is called "Mallam" (" learned " or "teacher," from the Arabic language), as he is also an Islamic scholar---probably a rarity in the banking world! He spoke softly (a little too softly for some of us, as the microphones were not working too well on the first day of the Forum) and couched his words carefully; however, his goals for Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular were quite clear: self-sufficiency leading to prosperity, and independence from foreign economic interests. I cannot, of course, provide here the full speech; howev
Ndolé with fried plantains Food in tropical Africa, as everywhere in the world, is mainly made with local products. Notable exceptions: tomatoes have become a staple, after being imported by the Europeans who had themselves imported them from South America. Tomatoes are not quite as ubiquitous as in southern Italy, but are the go-to item for sauces when a cook is in a crunch. Another import is salt cod, also known in the Americas as Bacalao . Cooked with what else... tomato sauce! Onions are also very popular, and I don’t think they are originally from the African continent. Ndolé plant Food, traditionally, is cooked. Well cooked. Salads used to be an unknown entity, and older people still call it “goat’s food.” Raw, or insufficiently cooked, would have been—and may still be—dangerous, in the hot and humid equatorial climate, where bacteria thrive, as it is never cold. Snow is a completely unknown entity. Even after a third of his life spent in temperate climates, my hus
In various parts of Africa, there are informal organizations, called "tontine," in French-speaking Cameroon. I looked up “tontine” in the English-language Wikipedia , and the definition is not the same; however, there is a link to the word “ likelamba ,” which describes the everyday African tontine. Two types of tontines The usual system is that all the members of a tontine—usually tontines are all-male or all-female—contribute a set amount of money every month to a common “pot,” and every month a different person takes the entire sum, usually to take care of a large expense they couldn't otherwise afford: tuition for a child, household equipment, etc. It is very difficult to save money in Sub-Saharan Africa for all but a fortunate few. Everyday needs are pressing, and there is never enough money; even if there is, a family member may have an urgent need, and there goes any money that was left over! In Cameroon, there is yet another tontine system, called the "