Misad­ven­tures at air­ports drive Nige­rian to start busi­ness for pro­mot­ing West African food

ChinAfrica - - Africa Report - By Sudeshna Sarkar

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!”

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