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History of Nutrition in East Africa

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Sung, Ji Yun
Term Paper, AP World History Class, June 2012

Table of Contents
I. Introduction : Overview of East Africa
II. African Environment and Development of Food Production
II.1 Geography and Climate
II.2 Development of Food Production
II.2.1 Stone Age
II.2.2 Neolithic Revolution
II.2.3 Further Development
III. Consequences of Interaction
III.1 In General
III.2 Pre-Colonial Era
III.2.1 Within Africa
III.2.2 Monsoon Exchange
III.2.3 Columbian Exchange
III.3 Colonial Rule
IV. Current Food Culture in Eastern Africa
V. Famine and Malnutrition Problems
VI. Conclusion

I. Introduction
            By the term East Africa, it is specifically referring to three countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, derived from the fact that those three countries were British East Africa. (1) Eastern Africa refers to the entire area from Ethiopia to east of the Great Lakes. Thus, eastern Africa includes following countries: the Great Lakes Region, including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. And there is an area so called Horn of Africa, which comprises Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Somalia. (2) Occasionally, other countries such as Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi, or Sudan are included, but the above 10 nations are mostly regarded as eastern Africa. In this paper, the term East Africa refers to the above 10 countries as well.
            One of the notable features of eastern Africa is that it is the birthplace of humanity; yet it has not developed much since. (3) Recent studies suggest a common ancestor between chimpanzees and humans who lived about 8 million years ago. (4) Some scholars assert that the harsh climate imposed the development of a new method of food production. However, such natural limitations greatly impeded the region’s growth. Only in recent times, after it finally became truly independent of the European Powers, eastern Africa shows some symptoms of a remarkable development. A brighter future is highly expected of this region.
            In East Africa, there are a variety of tribes living around the region shaped like a mosaic. Some of them merely have a few hundred people, but some others are composed of millions of people. Places like Tanzania take pride in that there are over a hundred tribes which has more than 10,000 members. (5) Five races - Cushites, Nilotics, Bantu Sudanic and Semitic - make up eastern Africa's main ethnic groups. Each of these three groups is comprised of several tribes. Some of the better known are the Kikuyu, the Luo, the Kalenjin, the Luhya and the Masai. This area is also home to many people of Arabian, Indian, and European origin. (6)

II. African Environment and Development of Food Production

II.1 Geography and Climate
            The natural environments of eastern Africa withdraw a deep admiration. They possess diversity never possible at other areas- from tropical savannah to permanent snowy fields, deserts with airborne dust, firing volcanoes and rumbling cataracts. Moreover, there exists Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak of Africa, Lake Victoria, which is world's second largest freshwater lake, the marvelous Great Rift Valley, and then there's the source of the Nile River, the longest river in the world. The entire area of eastern Africa is also the world's largest habitat of game, providing home to millions of zebras, gnu, bison, elephants, goats, giraffe, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas…and thousands more. (7)
            Bounded to the east by the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, the land rises (often on a plateau) to the Ethiopian and East African highlands of over 1000 meters, which contain five of the highest mountain peaks in Africa. Dividing these highlands is the Great Rift Valley. It shows many microenvironments according to its altitude. Some of them are surprisingly humid and cool for an area of such latitude. It has high and consistent rainfall, which is a great advantage for a dry area like East Africa. Also, the highlands along the Rift Valley from Ethiopia to South Africa create many waterfalls of Nile and Congo Rivers, rainfall catchments and shadows. They are often fertile and well-watered oases surrounded by semiarid plains. Thus, it is very rich in crop cultivation, and most of the population is concentrated in this area.
            On the other hand, the rainfall of lowland Africa varies greatly from year to year. Djibouti, regarded as the warmest city in the world, has a mean annual temperature of 31 degrees Celsius. (8) 75 % of the area is either arid or semiarid, and the rainfall is erratic. (9) Famine is a serious issue, especially in the Horn of Africa and northern Sudan, where it is extremely arid. In the dry lowlands, the main living is by cattle breeding. As a whole, 90% of the people are involved in agriculture and livestock in East Africa. It is the least urbanized area even in the African continent itself.

II.2 Development of Food Production
            For thousands of years, the people of eastern Africa followed a traditional way of life, and many still do. (10) Pastoral tribes tend herds of cattle and goats and supplement their diet with wild greens, bark and tubers. Fishing tribes, like the Molo, harvest tilapia or Nile perch from Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria or pull fish from the sea. Tribes of farmers, such as the Kikuyu and Luhya, cultivate traditional crops of sorghum, millet, cowpeas (black-eyed peas) and yams.

+ II.2.1 The Stone Age
            The best and oldest evidence of human nutrition in East Africa can be found in Olorgesailie, a historical site on the floor of the Great Eastern Rift Valley that was once a lake in a lush environment teemed with wildlife. (11) Thousands of wedgelike stone tools, such as hand axes, cleavers, scrapers, knives of varying sizes litter the ground. However, much of this time is remain unknown due to lack of archaeological evidence. To enrich the data, historians use comparative linguistics to propose links between the sketchy archaeological record and the spread of specific agricultural traditions.
            For the vast majority of human existence, people survived by eating plants and animals gathered from the wild. Over time, people slowly developed methods of foraging by adapting to different environments and learning to exploit different sources of food. Because of the harsh climate and scarce resources, the people were imposed to maximize the food supply and sustainability. During the Middle Stone Age, about 1.5 million years ago, regional cultures started to differ; each developed a unique method according to the natural resources. (12) They invented spears and sows, and most importantly, fire. They made use of the fire in many ways - heated sharp blades, cooked food, and chased animals off. In this era, people usually hunted a big or slow-moving prey, such as snails. (13)
            Then, in the Late Stone Age, about 200,000 years ago, tools became more specialized. Unlike past tools which all looked the same, they made stone knifes, needles, axes, etc. specifically for a purpose. Other techniques include agriculture, new tools, and grindstones. They also started to use traps and grinding stones. Such progress would have increased their ability to hunt significantly. It became possible to hunt faster-moving prey, including fish. It led to a diversification of diet.
            Despite all those progresses, however, people had to use most of their time in gathering food, and hunger was extremely common. In a limited area, there would only be a limited amount of food for a small tribe; people couldn't form large settlements.

II.2.2 The Neolithic Revolution
            After all those years of hunter-gatherers, roughly 10,000 years ago, the habit of attaining food started to change. There are many conflicting opinions on the origins of the agricultural revolution; it might be started by one genius, by accident, or just naturally. (14) Nonetheless, it is preferable to have a reliable food source nearby, so they kept that new lifestyle. What could be more secure than locking animals and planting crops near the houses ?
            The effects of the agricultural revolution altered every aspect of primitive society's lives. Firstly, they turned into a sedentary society. Agriculture and stock farming were not necessarily easier than hunting and gathering. Still, they were much more stable, which meant it was better for a large number of people to live together. Production of food contributed a great deal to the growth of villages and in the end, cities. Civilization, so it is called. In addition, farming must have required a higher level of discipline; people had to seed at a particular time, protect the growing plants and animals by any means, collect harvests up, and moreover, store and distribute the production. Such severe requirements led to a tremendous cultural transition.
            Throughout the early phase of food crop domestication, people continued to supply much of the protein they needed through hunting and fishing. Wild animal populations remained high because agricultural societies occupied relatively little of the landscape. Livestock, both cattle and sheep and goats introduced from southwest Asia, could not expand into areas with concentrations of tsetse- biting, blood-dependent family of flies transmit the dangerous Trypansoma microbes. These areas, mostly tropical savanna and forest, remained home to substantial game populations.
            Moreover, some historians claim that unlike the case in other parts of the world, domestication of livestock preceded the development of agriculture. (15) Key animals that are raised in East Africa are cattle, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and donkeys. Cattle, which are the most important of these, were introduced into the region from North Africa in 3000-2000 B.C.E. and are the economic base for livestock keepers and pastoralists who live in drier regions. Associated with sites showing evidence of domesticated cattle are grindstones, pottery, and limited indications of the exploitation of sorghum and millet as foodstuff dating to 9,000 years ago. The earliest sites identified as pastoralist suggest that the first pastoralists continuously moved between desert and Nile and rarely ate cattle, but instead they used the animals' milk and blood. The African tradition of using cattle for wealth may have started in this area. (16) The people took it either fresh or fermented in containers - mainly gourds (kuat in Sudan or kibuyu in Swahili) or hollowed-out wood. The milk is then churned to make butter and sour milk which are very popular food in southern Sudan and among pastoralists. Butter, which was a major item of barter trade in the past, is used in preparing other food or is mixed with other food to add flavor. Milk, which people often drink sweetened with sugar, may be used as an accompaniment for ugali or sima, which is a type of stiff porridge. In Africa, unlike the Middle East and India, pastoralism may have come before the development of agriculture.
            There were five deadly diseases that became a threat to their livestock: malignant catarrhal fever, Rift Valley fever, East Coast fever, foot and mouth disease, and trpanosomiasis. People worked to develop livestock breeds that could survive in their climates. Goats in particular became widespread, and by about 4,000 years ago a specialized breed of cattle had been developed that could live at least in the forest-savannah borderlands. It was only about 3,000 years ago that evidence of stock became available from southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Initially, sheep and goats appeared, and then cattle followed. The former two survive trypanosomiasis better and are less favored as food sources by the fly. (17)
            Among eastern Africa, the Ethiopian highlands have very unique culinary culture .Generally, there is too little archaeological evidence available; but one thing is for sure: the Ethiopian Highlands, like the other highlands of eastern Africa, represent a major region of plant endemism. This region receives fairly regular rain from the monsoon system and has many microenvironments based on altitude. African communities in this area domesticated four crops. (18)
            First two are coffee and finger millet, Eluesine coracana, which eventually spread beyond the region. For coffee, however, East Africa is not that fond of except for Ethiopia, its original home. In Ethiopia, raw coffee is roasted, spiced, and ground into flour. Coffee-drinking is important in communities of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia. Very strong coffee is served in small cups among Muslims in the coastal region as well.
            Two others are teff and ensete, but they remain little grown outside Ethiopia. Teff is a small grain grown only in Ethiopia to make njera bread, a huge, flat, flabby, rather elastic, and slightly sour pancake that usually eaten with spicy meat or vegetable stews. Ensete is a bananalike plant whose stem marrow is edible. However, it has a major disadvantage - it consists of low protein content. Linguistic evidence indicates that domestication in this area perhaps started as early as 6,000 years ago. By 4,000 years ago, a process of intensification had begun in the highlands that would lead to the development of a remarkable civilization.

II.2.3 Further Development
            Thousands of years passed since the Neolithic Revolution, and people tried many things to intensify the agriculture. The agricultural systems that developed spread into areas such as river valleys whose favorable conditions made them even more productive. Some domesticates, such as most livestock, proved capable of adapting to many different environments through selective breeding. Plant crops, on the other hand, expanded more in based on environment. For instance, grain stayed on stalk. Selective seeding was implemented according to the varying environments. Temperate plants such as wheat could not grow on tropical climates, and vice versa. Tropical plants include millet and banana.
            At the riverside of the Nile, floodplains were extremely important; after the water disappeared, the land was extremely fertile. There sedentary foraging community continued, with people living along the river and collecting the roots of sledges that grew in the river as well as fish and shellfish. Aquatic settlements were located along the Nile up to the Ethiopian Highlands, along the rivers that ran from what is now the Sahara to Lake Chad and the Niger River, and around Lake Chad.
            Between about 12,000 and 8,000 years ago, pastoralism and sedentary communities along riverside spread across sub-Saharan Africa. Both the cattle herding and aquatic settlements along lakes such as Chad and tributaries of Niger from the North exploited grains extensively. The most important food grains came from grasses that eventually became the domesticated crops of Africa. Sorghum, sorghum bicolor, shows most prominently, and plant biologists have long known that its ancestor grew wild in the area of the southern Sahara and Sahel. Pearl Millet, Pennisetum glaucum, was also domesticated in the area. The millets are a group of small-seeded species of cereal crops or grains, widely grown around the world for food. Millet has been an important staple food in the history of Africa since it grow in a harsh environment where other crops do not grow well. (19)
            In the forest/savanna frontier region (lakeside of Lake Victoria and coast of the Indian Ocean in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya), the grain crops of the drier savannahs did not grow well. In these areas, people gradually domesticated the oil palm and several varieties of African yam. Again, the archaeological evidence is spotty, but linguistic data indicates that such crops were heavily exploited by about 8,000 years ago.
            About five thousand years ago, much of East Africa was still occupied by hunters and gatherers, commonly referred to as ndorobo. Unfortunately, most of their culture was integrated with later migrants and therefore its cultures are lost to current scholars. (20)

III. Consequences of Interaction

III.1 In General
            Unlike most people think, people in Africa never lived in isolation. They constantly contacted within Africa and with other continents as humanity expanded. Over the 100,000 years of human expansion, ideas, technology, goods, and diseases have moved from one node to another, even though individuals might never leave their own node and only contact people from neighboring nodes. It is notable that sub-Saharan Africa share more in common with other parts of the tropical Old World such as southern India and Southeast Asia than it would with the Mediterranean world with which it had much more direct and intimate contact.
            Interactions with other continents, especially the contribution of Arabian and Indian peninsulas made the East African culture unique. This advantage let coastal parts of Kenya and Tanzania to use coconut, as well as other spices, as a flavoring, which made the food tastier than in inland regions.

III.2 Pre-Colonial Era

III.2.1 Within Africa
            Recent studies suggest that some of the most fundamental steps in creating food-producing societies were taken in Africa. (21) The vast majority of African’s food crops before the modern era were domesticated in Africa itself. Sorghum and millet quickly spread along the shores of the Indian Ocean. Sorghum has been found in Arabia dating to about 4,500 years ago and millet in India to about 4,000 years ago. In addition, coffee, a variety of cotton, and sesame spread from Africa into the rest of the world.
            In eastern Africa, two of the great food-producing systems of early Africa converged by about 800 B.C.E. After several centuries of interaction, people then produced a new synthesis that in turn spread rapidly in Africa. Before the arrival of Bantu-speaking agriculturalists, Cushitic-speaking farmers and herders had gradually moved south from Ethiopia starting about 5,000 years ago. The spread of cattle from northern Kenya to northern Tanzania took over 1,000 years in part because of a very difficult process of acclimatization to new disease environments. These farmers and herders arrived just as the first Bantu-speaking farmers entered the basin created by the Great Lakes. (22)
            The highly diverse environment of the broader Rift Valley created the opportunity for experimentation with new combinations of agricultural and animal husbandry practices. Bantu speakers at first stuck to well-watered highlands, leaving lowlands to the agropastoral communities. By about 500 B.C.E., they finished adopting elements of grain production and cattle keeping and began a massive expansion into the grasslands around the lakes. From the Lakes, they spread rapidly from the highlands of Tanzania and Kenya to drier lowlands of the Rift Valley, including the Serengeti Plain. Cushitic-speaking communities continued to occupy small regions in Kenya and especially Tanzania.

III.2.2 Monsoon Exchange
            By 10th century A.D., the inhabitants were unmistakably Bantu migrants who had pressed northward up the coast during the preceding centuries and settled in the commercial ports. The Arabs called them the Zanj, the Blacks. The non-Muslim people soon controlled the trading cities and provided the goods, whereas the carrying trade itself remained in non-African hands. (23) The scope of the trade appears to have expanded with the volume as merchants from China and Indonesia joined those from India, Persia, and Arabia. From there they controlled the transport of exotic spices from India and the East Indies to the Middle East and Europe. These spices - cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon - worked their way into the local Swahili cuisine. Coastal cooking is still more intensely flavored with spices than that of the interior.
            Before the Maritime Revolution, the most important crops with external origins in eastern Africa came from tropical Asia. Bananas and plantains arrived in Africa early in the first millennium of the modern era to the East African coast which is now Tanzania and Kenya with voyagers from Southeast Asia. Bananas became an extremely important food crop in eastern Africa as well. There are different varieties of banana which are used for brewing beer (24) and cooking, and others are eaten when ripe, such as kisukari (Swahili) or igisukari (Burundi). Among them, a soft variety of bananas spread to the highland regions of East Africa, preferred for meat and maize dishes, starting perhaps with the Upare Mountains in eastern Tanzania. They would become a main staple in these regions after about 1000 C.E.
            On the coast, the merchants eventually merged into the developing Bantu-speaking coastal communities that became the Swahili. Immigrants from Southeast Asia and from the African mainland brought chickens, cocoyam, and sugar cane. Most households in East Africa raise chickens, mostly prepared for guests. There are different significance reserved to various parts of chicken- for instance, in western Kenya, the tail part is only for the male head of the family. Later in the first millennium of the current era, Asian rice and sugar cane became important crops in eastern Africa. (25) For cocoyam (or taro), it is widespread in the region and are commonly planted along water courses, and it is a popular breakfast menu.
            Manioc (cassava), along with pumpkins and sweet potato, is an important crop imported from South America, and it withstands drought well. Although manioc has a relatively low nutritional value, it became dominant at the coastal areas and among the Iteso and Luo of Lake Victoria basin in Uganda. Dry cassava can be roasted or boiled or eaten fresh. In the coastal areas, people eat fried cassava flavored by lemon and powdered pepper, along with tea. Its leaves are also used as vegetables.
            The fifteenth century witnessed the beginning of the process of sharing biota across the globe in a new way. In particular, exchange across the Indian Ocean in some ways prefigure the Columbian exchange in the movement of plants, animals, and people into new landscapes. This “monsoon exchange” brought African crops, animals, people, and goods throughout Asia and introduced new ones to Africa, thereby transforming African landscapes.

III.2.3 Columbian Exchange
            Around 1000 years ago, the Arabs settled in the coastal areas of East Africa, and Arabic influences are especially reflected in the Swahili cuisine of the coast - steamed cooked rice with spices in Persian style. East Africa was known to the Muslim world as a source of highly prized commodities. (26) Away from the rivers, the goods had to be transported by humans, most notably gold. (27)
            Next came the Age of Exploration. After the European countries came to know the available goods of Africa, Portuguese took the lead in trying first to find routes to the unknown continent. Vasco da Gama succeeded in visiting India in the 16th century; they were able to trade with the Far East by taking control over Arabs. The aim of Portugal and it explorers was to monopolize the trade of the Indian Ocean and the East Indies, and eastern Africa was regarded principally as a way station to the Orient. They made little attempt to establish systematic government on the coast, so the coastal area could reserve its own traditions.
            Still, the Portuguese had introduced techniques of roasting and marinating to East Africa. (28) During the era of the Columbian exchange, Africa received new types of plants and animals that gave African societies new options in surviving within their environments, such as the use of spices which turned the bland diet into aromatic stewed dishes. Portuguese also brought from their Asian colonies fruits like the orange, lemon and lime. From their colonies in the New World, Portuguese also brought exotic items from America such as maize, peanuts, kidney beans, and potatoes, as well as European cabbage and kales. Currently, some of these are common elements of East African food. Later Portuguese was kicked out from East Africa as the spices became less profitable and the Arabs openly attacked them.
            Very rapidly, African agricultural systems gained new crops from the opening of contact with the New World. Maize had the earliest prominence, and adapted very well to African environments. Maize is the basis of ugali. It is a sticky, moist dish that is made by mixing flour from a starchy food which is regarded as the most important food in East Africa. But it can also be made by sorghum, finger millet, pearl millet, wheat, or cassava. Initially, maize remained mostly in West Africa, and in eastern Africa, sorghum, millet, and banana (in the highlands) were far more important as staple crops. In the savannahs, periodic drought limited its adoption. However, in the late twentieth century, maize replaced sorghum as the most important cereal in East Africa. People roasting fresh soft maize is commonly seen in urban areas. Passerby buys this roasted maize as snacks. In Somalia, fresh maize is fried in oil and taken as a snack. Another popluar East African food made of maize is githeri. It is a boiled mixture of fresh or dry maize with seeds from beans, garden peas, lablab beans, groundnuts, cowpeas, and pigeon peas.
            For another, beans (kidney bean, common bean) are especially important in Rwanda and Burundi- they east beans as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. Cooked with starchy food like sweet potatoes, cocoyams, and cassava, it is their frequent dish. Other recipes of beans include stew or sauce.

III.3 Colonial Rule
            Between 19th and 20th century, European empires began to compete for colonies in East Africa. The British colonizing Uganda and Kenya, the regions appropriate for cultivation of cash crops such as coffee and tea. Germans took over Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, and Italy gained control of Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia some later on. These countries brought with them their food. After the colonial partition of Africa in 1884-85, the British began to arrive. They quickly confiscated most of the arable land for plantations, driving large numbers of traditional farmers, largely Kikuyu, to the cities. On their estates the British proudly stuck with familiar English cooking and made little attempt to incorporate or assimilate Kenyan cuisine into their own. Likewise, relatively little remains in contemporary Kenyan cuisine to reflect the British colonial experience apart from a fondness for tea. A larger impact was made, however, by Indian merchants and railway workers from the subcontinent. Samosas, chapati, curries, rice pilau and chutneys remain quite popular with Kenyans today.
            In eastern Africa, too, the slave trade flourished during the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century but did not block the development of exploitation of natural resources. Because the rivers were not deep and wide enough to transport the goods, exports of the eastern Africa were limited to expensive ones or animals which could walk themselves. Changes in the region were more dramatic in the South than the northern borders. European masters exploited everything they could from the resources available to them in their new possessions. They became capable of controlling Africa once they had the ability to survive in sufficient numbers in the tropics to control new technologies generated by the Industrial Revolution. Setter colonies all relied on an enforced division between land open for settlement and land reserved for natives, showing a contrast between ordered fields of grain or coffee or tea or sisal or cotton against inefficient and unscientific agriculture.

IV. Current Food Culture in Eastern Africa
            Like other areas of Africa, Eastern African food consists of dishes made from grains, including sorghum, millet, rice, maize, yam, beans and cowpeas, flours for bread and stews cooked with vegetables and meat. Fresh milk and butter features in much authentic Eastern African food. So are coconut milk curry and a variety of spices. Variations are plentiful, due to ethnic and religious influences, especially contacts of these indigenous African populations with Arabs from the Horn of Africa and Arabian world.
            Meat eaten by those in Somalia for example is treated by the rules of halal, meaning it must be slaughtered alive and the blood poured to the ground. Already dead animals are not eaten, neither is pork or meal served with alcohol. Because of the largely nomadic life styles seen in this region, main meals are eaten mostly twice and sometimes thrice, though with rapidly urbanization, most working class people have three square meals.
            Like the typical African food, preparation time for some of these meals can take up anything between 1 - 5 hours per meal. A good example is the Cambuulo, prepared from Azuki beans that may take up to five hours to boil to attain the desired tenderness in Somalia..
            East Africans prepare breakfast with specially baked bread called lahooh, canjeera in Somali and Somaliland, or Chapati in Kenya and Uganda, eaten with vegetable stew, sour porridge like the Kenyan uji. Sour milk and ground cereals for breakfast are very common amongst the nomadic population. As for the Kikuyu speaking people of Kenya, Githeri, made from corn and beans or Irio made from mashed potatoes and maize is popular. Mokoro is quite common as well.
            Lunch is the most important, heavy meal in East Africa. Traditionally, this would be served in the late afternoons. Like most African food, it is mostly made of mashed starchy meals made from gains and tubers. Depending on regions, plainly boiled basmati rice, eaten with vegetable stews and fish or meat to ground corn meals, mixed with potatoes like the Irio and Githeri or even Ughali in Kenya is common.
            Dinner is not very different from typical lunch, only that today’s lunch could be cooked in smaller quantity as tomorrow’s dinner. Light meals though abound. Kuku Paka, a delicious blend of chicken coconut curry, served with rice, or Cambuulo made from cooked beans, sugar and butter served with bread or rice is common in East African recipe.
            Serving with a blend of fresh fruits or sweets is common in East Africa. Some sweets are fashioned after Arabian or Indian sweets, consistent with Arabian and Indian influences in the development of East African Cuisines.

V. Famine and Malnutrition Problems
            Famine is defined as the generalized rise in mortality in a region because of a lack of food. Although the cultivation of crops has long passed the point which it can feed all people in the world, there are still many people starving to death, and it is a real serious problem in East Africa. An estimated 11 million people in the Horn of Africa "are on the brink of starvation" because of severe drought and war. Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia need food aid, water, new livestock and seeds. This is a major hunger crisis in development. In 2011, the rainfall was way below average again, causing the worst draught ever. It is directly related to the recent sharp population growth in Africa as well. Although the people don’t yet have the ability to feed themselves, the population is increasing ever more.
            The decades between 1870 and 1920 were portentous ones for Africa: these years encompassed not only the conquest of Africa but also, as both cause and consequence of that conquest, a series of environmental disasters that reduced African populations in many places, destroyed Africa’s economic autonomy, and eventually created impoverished and dependent economies in the new colonies. The conquest itself was violent and caused new ecological stressed that greatly reduced Africa's population. Captain Owen observed that the slave trade also ruined the economy around eastern Africa. (30
            The most intense period of conquest coincided with the spread of rinderpest in Africa for the first time. Rinderpest, a cattle disease that affects ruminants and is transmitted through spittle left in grazing area, had been endemic in parts of Europe and Asia for many centuries. In 1887, the Italian expedition that conquered Eritrea brought infected cattle to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time. The disease established itself in African herds and spread rapidly, with mortality rates in unexposed herds reaching up to 95 percent. Rinderpest, coupled with the scorched earth policies of the Germans and British in East Africa when they faced resistance, made the 1890s a decade of famine in East Africa. (31) Like the famine caused by draught in 1895, Europeans was afraid that the continent might become depopulated. With the movement off colonial forces and the gradual increase in trade, other disease also spread more rapidly. (32)
            The famine crises of the 1890s occurred because colonial conquest had disrupted the systems that African societies had developed for maintaining access to food in the face of climatic variability. The new stresses came in the form of a more rapid circulation of diseases, both human and animal. They also derived from the disruption and violence of conquest itself. The colonial state system added to these stressed by imposing a new series of demands on African societies. In haphazard and often initially unplanned ways, colonial states set about to remake African landscapes, and Africans, into part of the global economy but in a subservient and dependent position. From 1917 to 1920, East Africa Campaign during World War I led to massive famine in large parts of East Africa.
            After the colonial era, famine has reappeared at times in several parts of the continent. Droughts, storms, and floods wreaked havoc on communities and infrastructure alike as climate change made the weather even less predictable. Famine became associated with war. In Ethiopia in the late 1970s, and again in the early 1990s famine resulted when civil strife combined with a climatic event. Moreover, many regions of eastern Africa faced food shortages throughout the period since independence without widespread increase in mortality. The transportation and marketing systems developed during the colonial era continued to be able to bring food into food-shortage regions. There were several crop failures as well, yet it only coincided with famine in those countries undergoing civil conflict.

VI. Conclusion
            Overall, it is a common concept that Africa’s food culture is not very developed, since there are still countless people starving to death in the continent. However, thanks to the diverse environment and vigorous trade, East African cuisine, especially the Swahili cuisine, is well worth trying.
            Like other areas of Africa, Eastern African food consists of dishes made from grains, including sorghum, millet, rice, maize, yam, beans and cowpeas, flours for bread and stews cooked with vegetables and meat. Fresh milk and butter features in much authentic Eastern African food. So are coconut milk curry and a variety of spices. Eastern African food contains a wide variety, due to ethnic and religious influences, especially contacts of these indigenous African populations with Arabs from the Horn of Africa and Arabian world. Influenced from past nomadic lifestyles in this region, main meals are eaten mostly twice and sometimes thrice, though after rapid urbanization, most working class people have three square meals.
            Even when the Portuguese arrived, they were taken aback by the beautiful and independent culture of East Africa. Also, due to such diverse environments, eastern Africa has a possibility to raise many crops. Unfortunately, European invasion, both Portuguese and imperialism countries, their redistricting of Africa influenced eastern Africa one way or the other. Before slavery was abolished, the local people had to go through a hard time. A lot of ancient tradition and natural wildlife they still possessed were lost.
            Despite all those hard times, East Africa has lots of possibilities towards development. Using its blessed natural environments, increased population, newly coming European and American capital, they will soar into the blue sky one day. To see that, people around the world must willingly provide aid to the suffering population. It is not for our good; it is for the common good. It is for all of humanity.

(1)      Article: British East Africa from Britannica
(2)      Article: East Africa from Wikipedia
(3)      Time-Life Books no.1897 p.8
(4)      Smith 1997
(5)      Time-Life Books no.1897
(6)      Stringer and Mckie 1996
(7)      Article: Africa Game Species from Wile About You
(8)      Article: Djibouti from Encyclopedia of the Nations
(9)      Maddox 2006 p. 25

(10)      Article: East Africa, Gale Encyclopedia of Food & Culture
(11)      Same as above
(12)      Maddox 2006 p. 27
(13)      Kusimba 2003
(14)      Charles 1973
(15)      Ehret 1998
(16)      Maddox 2006 p. 35
(17)      Ford 1971; Giblin 1990
(18)      Article: East Africa, Gale Encyclopedia of Food & Culture
(19)      McIntosh 1997
(20)      Article: East Africa, Gale Encyclopedia of Food & Culture
(21)      Maddox 2006 p. 23
(22)      Ibid. p. 42
(23)      Collins 1990
(24)      This moment marks the beginning of Swahili culture. The Swahili were Muslims, and Islam forbids alcohol. In East Africa, before nineteenth century, Islam remained a religion of coastal enclaves and traders.
(25)      ibid.
(26)      Maddox 2006 p. 80
(27)      Brooks 1993
(28)      Article: East Africa, Gale Encyclopedia of Food & Culture
(29)      Lovejoy 2000; Sheriff 1987
(30)      Beck
(31)      Beck
(32)      Maddox 2006 p. 122

Bibliography Websites listed below were visited in June 2012


1.      Exploring Africa, African Studies Center,
2.      Diets of Africa, Nutrition and Well-Being A to Z,
3.      East African Foods,,
4.      Kenya : Culinary Background, whats4eats,
5.      Current State of World Hunger, East Africa Famine
6.      Traditional Foods of the Central Ethiopian Highlands, Ethnomed,
7.      Food and Fasting in Somali Culture, Ethnomed,
7a.      Sanderson Beck, East Africa 1700-1950

Online Encyclopedias

8.      East Africa, Gale Encyclopedia Food & Culture
9.      Wikipedia : African Cuisine- East Africa,
10.      Wikipedia : East Africa,
11.      Britannica : Eastern Africa,
11a.      Article: Djibouti from Encyclopedia of the Nations

Printed Sources


12.      Smith, F. 1997. "Modern Human Origins", pp.257-266 in : Encyclopedia of Precolonial Africa : Archaeology, History, Languages, Cultures, and Environments, ed. J. O. Vogel, Walnut Creek: Alta Mira Press. 1997
13.      Stringer, C., and R. Mckie. 1996. African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity. London: Cape.
14.      Kusimba, S. B. 2003. African Foragers: Environment, Technology, Interactions. Walnut Creek: Alta Mira.
15.      Ehret, C. 1984. "Historical/Linguistic Evidence for Early African Food Production." In From Hunters to Farmers: The Causes and Consequences of Food Production in Africa, ed. J. D. Clark and S. A. Brandt, 26-36. Berkeley: University of California Press.
16.      Ford, J. 1971. The Role of the Trypanosomiases in African Ecology: A Study of the Tsetse Fly Problem. Oxford: Clarendon Press
17.      Giblin, J. 1990. "Trypanosomiasis Control in African History: An Evaded Issue ?" Journal of African History, 31(1): 59-80;
18.      Brooks, G. E. 1993. Landlords and Strangers: Ecology, Society, and Trade in Western Africa, 1000-1630. Boulder: Westview Press.
19.      Lovejoy, P. E. 2000. Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa, Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
20.      Sheriff, A. 1987. Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar. Athens, Ohio: Ohoi University Press.
21.      alimentation des populations africaines au Sud du Sahara. Pp. 221 Depouillement de la bibliotheque de I’INEAC, d’apres un plan analytique par M.P.C. Lefevre (Enquetes bibl. 13) - nutrition
22.      1957 the indigenous cattle of the British dependent territories in Africa, with material on cerain other African countries (Bib.: 153-157). London: HMSO (Publ.5)
23.      Hogendorn, J. S., and K. M. Scott. 1983. "Very Large-Scale Agricultural Projects : The Lessons of the East African Groundnut Scheme." In Imperialism, Colonialism, and Hunger: East and Central Africa, ed. R. I. Rotberg, 167-198. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.
24.      Giblin, J. 1986. "Famine and Social Change During the Transtition to Colonial Rule in Northeeastern Tanzania 1880-1896." African Economic History, 15: 85-105.
25.      Dawson, M. H. 1987. "Health, Nutrition, and Popluation in Central Kenya, 1890-1945." In African Population and Capitalism: Historical Perspectives, ed. D. Cordell and J. Gregory, 201-217. Boulder: Westview Press.
26.      Barthelme, J. W. 1984. "Early Evidence for Animal Domestication in Eastern Africa." in : From Hunters to Farmers : The Causes and Consequences of Food Production in Africa, ed. J. D. Clark and S. A. Brandt, 200-205. Berkeley : University of California Press.
27.      Maddox, G. 1986. "Njar : Food Shortages and Famines in Tanzania Between the Wars." International Journal of African Historical Studies, 19(1): 17-34.


28.      Library of Nations- 동아프리카 [East Africa] Library of Nations Series, Time-Life Books Inc. 1897, 1988
29.      Lutz van Dijk, 2004, 처음 읽는 아프리카의 역사 [ Die Geschichte Afrikas], Campus Verlag, pp. 85-93, 2005
30.      Robert O. Collins, 1990, History of Eastern Africa, Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton,
30.      Charles B. Heiser, Jr., 문명의 씨앗, 음식의 역사 [Seed to Civilization: The Story of Food], Kram Publishing Co., Seoul, 1973
30.      Gregory H. Maddox, 2006, Sub-Saharan Africa: an Environmental History, ABC-CLIO, Inc., Santa Barbara

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