Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1,000,000 visits and a call for an African Culinary Association

Did you know that "BETUMI" was originally called "Ananse's Web" back in the 1990s? To the right is a screen shot from an early Dreamweaver version of this "online newsletter and
forum." In 2005 BETUMI began what I believe were the first African food podcasts, and quickly branched out to videos. Today , BETUMI can be found on facebook, youtube, twitter, and instagram. Oh, and there have been a few books, too (A Good Soup Attracts Chairs (only the hardback version is recommended), Food Culture of Sub-Saharan Africa, and The Ghana Cookbook [with Barbara Baeta]), plus numerous articles and chapters.

I began counting visits to BETUMI: the African Culinary Network  a few years ago. BETUMI was not  a "big name." I taught myself to make a very simple, basic website and start an online "journal" (this was before blogging).   "African Food Culture" was not a trendy topic--it was not even on the horizon. BETUMI was not a money-making venture, just a voice crying out in the culinary wilderness. 

In the 20 years between 1997 and 2017, the scenery has changed dramatically. Hurray! The world is finally paying serious attention to Africa's culinary legacy and innovations. There are myriad African voices now claiming and celebrating their African heritage and educating others. From Senegal's Pierre Thiam to Nigeria's Ozoz Sokoh and Zimbabwean Cordialis Chipo, to name just a few, there is a flood of interest in learning  what  Africa, including sub-Saharan Africa, has to offer beyond North African or Ethiopian dishes (not that those aren't wonderful and noteworthy).

Glancing at my visitor count today, I see that people still come to Betumiblog: the counter showed 999,182  combined visits to betumi.com and betumiblog.  Only 818 more visits to make it to a million. It makes me happy to have been a part of this burgeoning awareness of and interest in African cuisine. Thank you all for your support, and I pledge to continue to support you.

Here's to another 20 years of growth! I'd love to see an African-based culinary organization emerge. A kind of "African Association of Culinary Professionals," that includes chefs, African food writers and bloggers, caterers, restauranteurs, farmers, food processors, teachers, scholars, manufacturers, etc. It could provide a unifying industry voice. What do you think?

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