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December 2023 Newsletter

Why Do People View Africa as a Monolith?

Welcome back to our monthly digest, bringing the culinary treasures of Africa and its diaspora straight to your inbox.

If you like what we're serving up, follow us on LinkedIn, and to get our monthly newsletter straight to your inbox, subscribe here.


Keep scrolling to find bitesize content on:

❌ Why can't people name African countries?

🔎 The narrow lens that has become the whole perspective

📈 The momentum of cultural export

🗝 Is food the key to unlocking the gates?

🚨 A Nigerian Italian Pop-Up in LA

🎁 Our AfroEats holiday gift guide



Test your knowledge of African and diaspora cuisines, and keep reading to find the answer at the end of this newsletter!


Which of these West African dishes was the most trending search term from the past year? 

1️⃣ egusi soup

2️⃣ fufu

3️⃣ moin moin

4️⃣ okra soup


Africa as a Monolith

Africa is at the center of our world maps, but how much does the rest of the world really know about us?

❌ "There's only 1 country in Africa."


When it comes to how we speak about the continent, Africa and its cuisines have been viewed as a monolith for so long — a direct byproduct of how little representation there is for the continent and its culture — and people tend to fall short, even on simple general knowledge about Africa.


Despite other continents having mainstream cultural identities, usually split into regions or countries, these variances are virtually unheard of in regard to Africa.

❌ "Name 2 indigenous dishes from Lagos."


As we watch African cuisines enter mainstream media, it comes as no shock that we’re seeing people speaking about these cuisines as a monolith.


It reflects a broader lack of understanding of African history and culture, even from folks within the continent. This can be partly blamed on unbalanced media coverage, while scarce media representation has also led to reduced interest in local cuisines.


The Narrow Lens

"There has been a way of seeing Africa in terms of poverty and conflict, which has become a kind of shorthand for the continent that still persists today."


Studies of major internationally-focused Western news outlets (US, UK, and French) found that news about Africa accounted for only 6-9% of their international news coverage, which does not leave a lot of room to portray Africa in all its diversity. Furthermore, a study of US television news found more than 60% of news about Africa focused on conflicts, terrorism, disasters, disease, and other tragedies.


With such a narrow lens, the onus is on us to challenge the dominant narrative by saturating social media with the true perspectives of this vibrant, multifaceted continent.


We say: share the art, the music, the entrepreneurs, the activists, the chefs, the scientists - every story that shatters the monolith.



Cultural Export Momentum

Africa is no longer just exporting its natural resources or its agricultural commodities; it is now a global hub for fashion, culture, and music, pioneered by genres like Afrobeats and Amapiano.

From Africa to the World

🎤 This October, the Selena Gomez remix of Rema's “Calm Down” became the first African-artist-led track to amass 1 billion streams on Spotify.

💽 At the start of the month, Burna Boy became the first international Afrobeats artist to land a #1 album in the UK.

🎬 Nollywood’s first $1 million production, The Black Book, reached the fourth position on Netflix’s global charts during its release week in September 2023.

🍿 The Black Book was also among the top 10 most-watched films on Netflix in over 38 countries.


If You're Hungry for More, Check Out These Articles:


Food as the Key to the Gates

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected online, food has emerged as a powerful tool for cultural exchange and understanding.


🔎 Search interest in "African food" has increased by 317% between 2018 and 2021, and this growing interest in African food presents a great opportunity to challenge the monolithic narrative.


💥 Within searches for African food, "Okra soup" has been deemed by Google Trends as the most popular "breakout" search term of 2023 so far, meaning the term has had a tremendous increase over a short period of time.

Image: Regional Corn & Maize Staples from Africa and across the Diaspora by Jikoni Recipe Archive

Homogenization Risk


However, terms like "Afro" and "African" have been widely used to describe these cultural exports from Africa. While this can be helpful in raising awareness of the continent's rich heritage, it can also lead to a homogenization of African culture.


For example, recent trending food videos may exclusively use the term "African" to describe regional cuisines, which harms their chances of discovery, understanding, and interest.


But the growing appetite for African food online presents a unique chance to rewrite the narrative. Food bloggers are leading the charge, like EatWithAfia, Mirembe Nicholas of eatingtheafricanway, and our own initiatives, so collectively, we can unlock a world of flavors and stories that shatter the African monolith and celebrate the true diversity of our heritage.


Community Highlight

a bookshelf of African cookbooks, and the image is hyperlinked to a listicle of African cookbooks everyone should own

Did you miss Chef Tayo's cooking classes earlier in the year?


Fear not! He's whipping up a new Nigerian-Italian supper club series, with five courses of flavor fusion, family-style dining, and divine wine pairings.


Dates: 01/07, 01/14 and 01/28

Grab your tickets before they're gone: GET TICKETS

Getting your holiday gifts on Africa Time?


No sweat! Our last-minute guide is brimming with goodies from Black-owned and African businesses.


Squeeze in your last-minute shopping and get your gifting gears in high speed to show some love this holiday season: GET GIFTS


If you're hungry for more, subscribe to our newsletter, and follow us on our socials!


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