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These Chefs Are on a Mission to Decolonize West African Food

A growing movement across West Africa sees a number of chefs seeking to reclaim authentically African food traditions. By delving deep into rich, indigenous cooking histories and excising the influences of colonialism, a number of African chefs are spurring a rebirth of authentic West African cuisine.  Starting with books like The Jemima Code by Toni Tipton-Martin, and Doris Witt’s Black Hunger, Sokoh followed edible traces from African American cookbooks back to their fundamental continental African recipes. Foundational recipes are becoming increasingly important in both restaurant and home kitchens across West Africa, as the tides of decolonization inspire a revival of historical recognition within the food industry. Chefs like Fatmata Binta, who operates Ghana’s Fulani Kitchen, Senegalese celebrity chef Pierre Thiam, and the Gambia’s Ousman Manneh are setting the pace for this culinary reckoning. Ousman, who presides over Kololi’s Luna Lounge, one of the Gambia’s top restaurants, says high tourist traffic makes decolonization especially important, as foreigners’ tastes for familiar food threaten to supersede local offerings.