Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Betumiblog Award and update

 I received a pleasant note today that Betumiblog has been selected by a business school as among the "Top 100 Sites for International Business People," (at #23 overall, and 3rd in the Africa list). See the nifty badge they sent me. That spurred me to take a few minutes to stop work and jot off this posting.

It looks like Betumiblog has (in other words, I have) been slacking off. Not so! The problem is that I don't have time right now to write up everything I have on my current list (including new African culinary products via Bim's Kitchen,  another donation to the Africa cookbook collection, and discussion of the linguistic confusion and controversy over alligator/melegueta/malagueta peppers).

Actually, the reason I'm not writing on my blog is a good one: two publishers have expressed interest in the Ghanaian regional cookbook. At last, Africa's time is at hand (for additional support of this statement, see the October video and edition of the World Bank's African Pulse). I am working hard to prepare a convincing proposal to send out. But, as I  recently observed "to do one thing well requires doing many things." The postings will have to wait a few more weeks as I focus on the prospectus. Please keep your fingers crossed. Many of you keep asking when the book will be published. Just remember: "little by little, the chicken drinks water."  I believe it will happen within the next year and a half.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

African food in literature

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.