Liberia it was supposed to be a sort of Utopia. The American Colonization Society founded Liberia in 1821 as a place for free African Americans to migrate to. More than 10,000 made the journey across the Atlantic. Of course, there were already 500.000 living there. Which wasn’t the best mix, to say the least. Liberia has a history of bloody civil wars involving child soldiers and other gruesome acts. Fortunately ever since the previous President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came in office things have been relatively peaceful. Unfortunately just when things seemed to have calmed down politically the EBOLA virus hit Liberia hard in 2014! Now the nation is officially Ebola-free per the WHO, and it’s struggling economically to recover. With travel restrictions lifted, tourism can play a huge role in this. So here is a peace I 100% copied from the lonely planet website “Liberia, a lush, green, friendly and vibrant land, offers everything from excellent surf spots and shops selling wares by edgy local designers to days spent lolling in a comfy hammock on the edge of the rainforest while listening to tropical birds sing. It’s home to one of West Africa’s best national parks and still hangs on to a confident American spirit mixed with West African roots. And despite the ravages of the past, it is a fantastic place to travel, full of hope and energy.” Soooo everybody go to Liberia! It’s beautiful and they could really use your money 😛 .
Things you didn’t know about Liberia:
- The vast majority of African countries have never had a female leader. But Liberia has one right now. Introducing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president since 2006 and known as Africa’s Iron Lady.
- Liberia is among the 20 countries on Earth that smoke the fewest cigarettes per capita – just 104 per adult per year. Montenegro, where 4,124.53 cigarettes are smoked per adult per year, according to 2014 figures from the WHO, is top of the pile, while Belarus, Macedonia, Russia, Slovenia and Bosnia also make the top 10
- The second largest tropical rainforest in West Africa, the Sapo National park is located here. It has around 125 species of mammals. It is home to the rare pygmy hippopotamus.
- Oprah Winfrey had traced her ancestors back to the Liberian region of Kpelle.
Lesotho, a tiny tiny tiny country completely surrounded by South-Africa. Lesotho is a very mountainous country, hence it is often called The Mountain Kingdom. The entire country is at least 1000 meters above sea level. Which makes it the highest country in Africa. And don’t think just because it’s Africa it’s hot. No way!! Up in the mountains, it gets pretty cold, but don’t worry you can buy traditional beanies everywhere! That’s not the only thing you can do up in those mountains. This
might be is very touristy but they have donkey pub crawls!!! Imagine being completely wasted going from pub to pub on a freaking donkey!! That just sounds hilarious and totally something I would do with some friends!
Things you didn’t know about Lesotho:
- Lesotho is ruled by a constitutional monarchy and is one of the 3 remaining kingdoms in Africa. (The other are Morocco and Swaziland). King Letsi III is the reigning king of Lesotho since 1990.
- Not many countries can say that their traditional dress is a blanket. The Basotho blanket is a very common sight in the kingdom of Lesotho, often with colorful patterns. The blanket is not only used to protect the Basotho against the cold but is also worn as a status symbol and cultural identification. Almost entirely made of wool, they protect very well against the harsh cold winter. Another typical feature is the woolen balaclava (which only leaves their eyes free) and the gumboots
- Lesotho is home to the highest altitude pub in Africa in 2874 meters above sea level. It’s located right at the border with South Africa, and the end of the iconic Sani Pass (or the beginning if you come from Lesotho). A cold beer is very welcome when driving this scenic pass starting in South Africa and to top it all off, you’ll have an amazing view from the top (while sipping that cold beer).
- You would not immediately associate Africa with snow, but Lesotho is home to the highest ski resort in Africa. Afriski is situated at 3050 meters above sea level.
Lesotho has 28 airports. Only three of them have properly paved runways. Hold on tight…
Well, this was surprisingly good I never knew putting tangerine in a soup would be so amazing! A great meal for a healthy quick mid-week meal!!!
Kenya, the vibrant beating heart of East Africa! The original ‘sun, sand and safari’ destination. Kenya was always the go to destination if you were going to Africa, until December 2007. In December 2007 there was an election the top candidates were the current president Kibaki and his ex-secretary Odinga. Kibaki won the election but Odinga accused Kibaki of election fraud. A thorough investigation proved Odinga was right, which of course led to rebellions. These rebellions had massive consequences, for instance, travel agencies stopped sending their clients to Kenya, and canceled the trips that were already booked… Since a lot of Kenyans work in the tourism sector was this a devasting result, which led to even more poverty… Eventually, Odinga and Kibaki made a compromise to let Kibaki stay on as president and Odinga serve as prime minister.
Things you didn’t know about Kenya:
- Scientists have estimated that the Great Rift Valley found in Kenya was formed over 20 million years ago when the Earth’s crust began to split.
- Dowries are still traditional in Kenya. The groom’s parents must pay a dowry to the bride’s family otherwise their son will not be able to wed his bride. Dowries start at 10 cows.
- Coffee is a huge export in Kenya, but it is not consumed in the country. Kenyans believe that all of the coffee they produce should be sold outside of their country, so they drink tea or beer.
- Scientists believe that Kenya may have been the birthplace of human beings. Bones of early ancestors were found in the Turkana Basin.
- It is free for children to attend school in Kenya, but many children do not go, they are too busy helping their families work the land, fetch water and other necessary tasks.
The yogurt gives acidity in this curry which it really needs because of a number of spices, so the freshness of yogurt is a good move! In the original recipe they use okra, but I couldn’t find any at the supermarket, so I just left it out.
Guinea Bissau is one of Africa’s secret most breathtaking little corners. Rich with wildlife, rainforests and decaying towns from the colonial era. So Guinea and Guinea Bissau might be very close to one another but the difference is immense! Guinea Bissau is slowly transforming into a stable country with a stable government. While in Guinea there are still a lot of problems. In Guinea Bissau there has been peace and prosperity since the independence from Portugal in 1980. Guinea Bissau doesn’t just consist of mainland there is also an archipelago that is part of Guinea Bissau, with beautiful, peaceful islands.
Things you didn’t know about Guinea Bissau
- Contrary to what you might expect, residents here are called ‘Bissau-Guineans’, not ‘Guinea-Bissauans’!
- Guinea-Bissau’s flag draws its inspiration from the flag of the Republic of Ghana. It was the struggle of the Ghanaians for freedom that inspired the people of Guinea-Bissau to put up a fight for their very own.
- Former President Vieira and his rival Military Chief Wai were both assassinated in January 2009, though a stable interim government is currently in place.
- In 2003, there were an estimated 8 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there was 1 mobile phone in use for every 1,000 people. In 2003, 15 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.
- Western-style clothing is typical attire for work and daily activities because it is inexpensive and readily available, shipped secondhand from Europe and North America. Adults value cleanliness and modesty. Locally made traditional clothing is more expensive and is reserved for special occasions.
Ingredients: 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs (cut into large pieces), 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil, 1 large onion (halved and sliced), 3 tbsp tomato purée, 1 chicken stock cube, 400g basmati rice, 1 red bell pepper (deseeded and thickly sliced), 1 yellow bellpepper (deseeded and thickly sliced), 100g okra (halved), bunch coriander, (roughly chopped to serve
For ginger chili base: 2 garlic cloves, 2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes, thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, 1 scotch bonnet chilli (deseeded)
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large deep frying pan over a high heat then add the meat and fry for about 5 mins till golden all over. Lift out of the pan onto a plate.
- Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onions until soft but not golden, about 5 mins. While the onions cook, make the ginger and chilli base. Put the garlic, tomatoes, ginger and chilli into a food processor or blender and whizz till smooth.
- Add the tomato purée to the onions, fry for another 2 mins then add the ginger and chilli mix. Crumble in the stock cube, stir then pour in 600ml boiling water. Add the chicken, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins.
- Put the rice into a large bowl, cover with cold water and use your hands to wash the grains. Tip the water out then repeat twice until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the pan, turn the heat down to a simmer then cover with foil and a lid (so no steam can escape) and cook for 20 mins.
- Take the lid off (the rice won’t be cooked yet) then scatter the peppers and okra over the rice. Re-cover and cook for 10 mins until the veg is softened and the rice tender. Just before serving, mix the veg through and scatter over coriander.
Guinea has a very tough history! They’ve gone through many struggles over the centuries. Nonetheless they are a very brave nation. During their struggle for independence one of their slogans was: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery!” and who can blame them. Freedom is one of the most important basic human rights! But when the French let them have their independence they immediately cut off all financial and physical support which let to a disastrous fall into poverty. After gaining independence from France, Guinea turned to the Sovjet Union for support. The first president introduced a socialist government. Thousands of people were killed or tortured during this time. Today, the country is trying to become a democracy, but the process is not easy. At this moment there is still no light on the horizon for Guinea. The most recent disaster was the Ebola virus which wiped out a chunk of Guinea’s the population.
- Guinea was a part of the Mali empire between the 13th and the 15th century.
- Guinea was the first country gaining independence from the French on October 2nd 1958
- The literacy rate of Guinea is very low.
- Guinea has a rich musical tradition like other West African countries.
For Guinea I made an African snack called puf puffs. You can compare them with beignets only there is onion in them which strongly seems to work perfectly!!!!
Ingredients: 2 cup of all-purpose flour,, 1 and ½ cup of warm water, 1 tbsp of dry yeast, ½ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of finely grated onion (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour on the flour. Mix it really well .
- Add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and onion. Cover with a napkin and let it rise for at least 2 hours
- Heat the oil and use your hand or a spoon to drop the mixture in the oil, fry until each side is brown.
- Tips: To get the puff puff right make sure that the batter is not too thick nor too thin. And the also the temperature of the oil is important. The oil should be hot enough but not too hot.
Ghana has existed since medieval times. Its name comes from the former Ghana Empire of West Africa: “Ghana” was the title given to ruling kings. The Portuguese arrived in 1471 to the land they called the Gold Coast (for its abundance of the stuff), and mercantile trade of African products to Europe commenced. Because of geography, Ghana became the center for the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade on land subsequently colonized by the British and the Dutch (of course we had a part in it). Now Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and political stability. It’s considered to be Africa’s success story. The Ghanese are very superstitious they are very firm believers in black magic and witchcraft, when you go to church on Sundays the services will be very loud with a lot of music to drive out the evil spirits.
Things you didn’t know about Ghana:
- The name Ghana means warrior king and dates back to the days of the Ghanian empire during the 9th and 13th centuries.
- The trade in Ghana was built on salt and gold, that’s why British merchants later referred to it as the Gold Coast
- Ghana was ranked as Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index.
- Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence post-colonialism. It gained its independence on March 6, 1957.
- Ghana has the largest market in West Africa. It’s called Kejetia market and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital. There you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts, beads, cloth and sandals to second-hand jeans and clothing, and meats, fruit and vegetables.
- Water is not drank from bottles but from little plastic bags.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, 300g minced meat, 1 medium onion, 1/2 teaspoon tomato puree, 2 teaspoon all purpose seasoning, 1 small maggi (stock) cube, salt to taste, 1 large green pepper, chopped in little cubes
Add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat up. Add the mince and onions and cook on medium heat until it browns, stirring in between.
Mix in tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes. Stir into mince with all purpose spice, maggi (stock) cube and salt. Remove from heat and leave to cool, then stir in chopped green peppers.
Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Add butter to the flour. Rub in using your fingertips. Add all the cold water at once and use your fingers to bring the pastry together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very lightly.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Rolling should be be carried out in short, sharp strokes, with light, even pressure in a forward movement only. Turn the pastry as you roll.
Cut circles in the dough and place a quarter cup of mincemeat in the centre of the circle.
Fold dough over making it into a semicircle. Take a pastry brush and dip in water and moisten edges of dough circle then pinch sides together with a fork. Use a fork and poke holes on the top of the meat pies.
Place pies on baking tray.
Brush the tops of meat pies with egg wash and bake in oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.
The Gambia, tiny English speaking country surrounded by French speaking countries. It was the first British colony in Africa. For many, The Gambia is a country with beaches that invite visitors to laze and linger on package tours. But there’s more than sun and surf. Small fishing villages, nature reserves and historic slaving stations are all within easy reach of the clamorous Atlantic resorts. Star-studded eco-lodges and small wildlife parks dot the inland like a green belt around the coast and The Gambia is a bird lovers’ utopia: on a leisurely river cruise, you’ll easily spot more than 100 species.
Things you didn’t know about Gambia:
- Punctuality is not often observed in The Gambia and the business concept of ‘time is money’ is approached in a very relaxed and flexible manner. People can arrive for a meeting up to four hours later than originally scheduled.
- Gambia was the first nation conquered by the British in West Africa. It was 300 years before independence would be granted on Feb. 18, 1965. When it became independent, The Gambia became the 37th sovereign African state.
- Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa and is slightly smaller than Yorkshire.
- The official title of The Gambian president is Sheikh Professor Doctor President.
- People cast their votes in elections in The Gambia by dropping stones in holes.This vegan stew is a delicious healthy weeknight meal. I can guarantee kids will love it (peanut butter duh)Ingredients: 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 onion chopped, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 chili finely diced (seeds in for an extra kick!), pinch of kaloniji black onion seeds (optional), 250ml Maggi vegetable stock, ⅓ jar peanut butter (about 110g), 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g), ½ small butternut squash diced into 1cm cubes, 4 medium mushrooms quartered, 1 red or green pepper deseeded and chopped, 2 small carrots peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, 150g rice, to serve, 1 star anise
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and soften. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Stir in the peanut butter until creamy. Add the chopped tomatoes.
- Add all the vegetables and simmer for 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has reduced to a thicker consistency. Some of the peanut butter oil may rise to the surface; this can be skimmed off if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- While the stew is cooking, boil the rice according to pack instructions. When the rice is al dente, drain the rice with a sieve, saving the water into a separate bowl. Pour the water back into the pan the rice was cooked in (this saves you re-heating more water) and place the sieve over the top. Add the star anise to the sieve of rice and place a lid over the top. Steam for 5 minutes.
- When cooked, spoon the rice into a small, round bowl and tip onto the serving plate to form a ‘rice dome.’ Serve with the cooked peanut stew.