The Nairobi National Museums of Kenya (NMK) collaborated with Promote Kenya and Wanderlust Kenya to host the Food for Thought culinary festival.
This event, orchestrated by Amakove Wala of Wanderlust Kenya and Rueben Kingori of Promote Kenya, served a dual purpose: to raise awareness about indigenous foods and promote culinary tourism. “We designed this quarterly event to boost culinary tourism and encourage a return to our roots in indigenous foods. It’s a celebration of our rich food culture, which is integral to our heritage,” explained Wala.
This distinctive culinary festival, set to occur every three months across all 47 counties, drew more than 50 enthusiastic exhibitors keen to display the diverse tapestry of Kenyan cuisine. It showcased a plethora of dishes, each with deep historical, traditional, and cultural roots, reflecting the diverse heritage of the Kenyan people.
Additionally, Wala emphasized the importance of consuming native foods for better health and well-being. “Today, many young people face lifestyle diseases due to processed foods. Medical professionals on our panel shared cases of diabetes reversal through dietary changes involving indigenous foods and medical intervention. Often, our traditional foods are associated with poverty; we aim to revive the glory of indigenous foods,” she elucidated.
During the festival, organizers warmly welcomed schoolchildren from various institutions, including the Dagoretti Special School, providing them with a unique educational experience centered on food culture. Rueben Kingori, CEO of Promote Kenya, debunked the myth that healthy living and consuming indigenous foods are exclusive to the affluent. “Food is a crucial part of our culture. Our cuisine has become overly Westernized. The idea that healthy living is expensive is a misconception. Vegetables like cowpeas are very affordable,” reassured Kingori.
The event featured an array of cuisines from Kenya’s four major regions, proudly highlighting traditional vegetables such as African nightshade (managu), Siveve, and boiled pumpkin leaves, among others. Each dish conveyed its own narrative, reflecting the history, traditions, and customs of the communities that crafted them.