Food studies and literature courses rarely consider African food the same way they do other cuisines, apart from the frequent allusions to Igbo food in Achebe's works. In class we're taking a very quick look at food in African literature, including proverbs, poems, short stories, and novels.
Today we heard two African poets, who graciously included "food poems" in their repertoires
for us: for example, South African Gabeba Baderoon read food poems like "Hunger" and Liberian Patricia Jabbeh-Wesley's poems included images of broken calabashes and scattered palm wine. In class we read Jabbeh-Wesley's poem "Wandering Child." Both of these talented poets' writings often evoke a sharp sense of exile, loss, and/or nostalgia. We've also looked at some writing by Cameroonian author Angèle Kingué. It seems to me that African women write differently--somehow more intimately--about food than African men, but perhaps I have just not read widely enough.
One student is reading Nega Mezlekia's Notes from the Hyena's Belly and another Chris Abani's Graceland. Earlier we considered Shirin Edwin's "Subverting Social Customs: The Representation of Food in Three West African Francophone Novels." We also talked briefly about Tsitsi Dangarembga's Nervous Conditions. The assignment is to consider the roles food plays in these novels.
I've also been anxiously awaiting the English translation of Cameroonian Calixthe Beyala’s book How to Cook Your Husband the African Way. It sounds like it might be in the vein of Brazilian Jorge Armado's Dona Flor and her Two Husbands. I'd love to know more about other African works and/or articles that focus on this subject. Please help me grow my understanding. And, if anyone can tell me of African films where food is important thematically, I'd also love to know about them.