Misadventures at airports drive Nigerian to start business for promoting West African food
THE customs officer at Heathrow Airport looked incredulous.
“Ogbono!” he said, peering suspiciously at the package he had confiscated from the passenger from Nigeria. “What on earth is that?”
Kabir Mohammed Bawa braced himself for the loss of yet another precious parcel of Nigerian food, brought as a gift for a friend living in the UK, thanks to airport officers’ ignorance of African cuisine culture. But in his heart, he could feel revolt stirring.
“Each time I carried African foodstuff for family and friends living in the UK, they got confiscated at Heathrow Airport because of lack of effective packaging and labelling,” the 47-year-old told Chinafrica from Abuja. “The last straw was in September 2010 when I carried ogbono in black nylon bags for my doctor friend and was asked at the airport what it was. I stood there helpless, telling the man it was ogbono and he looked at me, plainly thinking, ‘What language is this guy talking in?’ And I was perplexed how on earth did he not know that ogbono was the Nigerian name for the spice made from the kernel of the wild mango tree!”