Kuli-Kuli: crunchy peanuts snacks from Nigeria

We are in Nigeria. Kuli-kuli is a popular local snack made from crushed peanuts, a popular crop in several West African countries. High in protein and fat, groundnut-based foods such as kuli-kuli provide an inexpensive option for a quick and satiating snack. Kuli-kuli originated in Northern Nigeria, but is now widely enjoyed throughout the country and across Benin, Northern Cameroon, and Ghana. Often referred to as groundnut cakes or groundnut chips, the snacks come in an array of shapes and sizes, from round balls, square flat shapes, cylindrical shapes or…

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Adze: an insectoid source of misfortune in West Africa

As night settles in Africa, across Togo and Ghana, where the Ewe people lives, the Adze, it is said, slips through keyholes, under windows and around doors, flying to the bodies of the sleeping, appearing as mosquitos, beetles, fireflies, or simply balls of light. They prey on men and women, but especially enjoy the blood of children. For centuries, the Ewe people of West Africa have lived in fear of these creatures. According to the legend, there’s no potion, spell, or weapon that can ward one off, and no cure…

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Elizabeth Bay Ghost Town – Namibia

We are in southern coast of Namibia, 25 km south of Lüderitz. Even though it often seems to be forgotten in the shadow of its counterpart Kolmanskop, also Elizabeth Bay was a lucrative diamond mining town. Diamonds were first discovered in the region around 1908. However, only in 1989 that the government of Namibia spent $53 million on the exploration and creation of a new diamond mine on the site. Its decrepit buildings and machinery tell of a dark, greedy history: the city was inhabited for only 20 years, but…

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Kolmanskop – Namibia: the remains of diamond fever taken over by the desert.

We are in Namibia: people flocked to the area that later became known as Kolmanskop after the discovery of diamonds, in 1908. Here, Zacharias Lewala, a regular railway worker, picked up what he thought was an unusually shiny stone, and showed it to his supervisor, August Stauch, who immediately applied for a prospector’s license. Verification confirmed that the first diamond in the region had been found. The diamonds were in such supply that they could be picked off the ground by bare hands, and soon the area was flooded with…

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“The Death Camp” and the forgotten story of Germany’s first holocaust

Shark Island was founded in 1795 off the coast of Luderitz, Namibia. Originally named Star Island, the land sat amidst immense winds and crashing waters of the Atlantic for a century before being connected to the mainland and used as a concentration camp by the Germans from 1904 to 1908. But did you know there was a holocaust under the Second Reich of the Kaiser just as there was one under the Third Reich of Hitler? You may not have heard of the Herero and Nama peoples, and this is…

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The curious Coronavirus-Inspired Hairstyle that became popular in Kenya’s biggest slum

Asking to get the coronavirus might sound absurd anywhere, of course. However in Kibera, Kenya’s biggest slum, a new hairstyle inspired by the spiky look of the COVID-19 has become a big trend. And that’s not a joke: the coronavirus has infected 582 and killed 26 in Kenya and wreaked havoc on the economy, especially for informal and low-wage workers. With client numbers dwindling and their income collapsing, hairstylists in Kibera had to come up with valid alternatives to avoid bankruptcy, including finding solutions relating to the problem. So, in…

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Macuti Lighthouse and Shipwreck – Mozambique

We are in Beira, Mozambique. Macuti Beach is along the main coast road between Beira city and the airport. If you find yourself there, a visit to the beach it’s well worth, to witness this unusual scene: the remains of an old shipwreck lying on the sand directly in front of a mysterious but quaint abandoned lighthouse. At high tide, only a few rusted bulkheads are visible above the breakers, but at low tide, you can walk or wade right through the wreckage. The red-and-white-striped Macuti Lighthouse (the beach is…

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Cemitério de Navios – The Angolan Ship Cemetery

We are in Angola. Sitting on the Western Coast of Africa, the port of Luanda is the capital and largest city in a nation that has been one of Africa’s most war-torn, with rival factions battling between 1962-2002. Founded by the Portuguese in 1575, the city has finally achieving peace in 2002 after a long civil war, and the country is just now beginning to recover. About a 30-minute drive north of Luanda there is an incredible sight: a barren beach with as many as 50 rusting ships on or…

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Tanzania: the lake Natron and the petrified animals

Don’t let the ring of salty marshes along the edge of Lake Natron fool you: this body of water is one of the most inhospitable areas on Earth! We are in Monduli, Tanzania. Even if the salty red hell is a beautiful sight for eyes, unfortunately conceals a terrible secret. Colored a deep red from salt-loving organisms and algae, the lake reaches hellish temperatures and is nearly as lethal as ammonia. We known that most human settlements throughout history have formed around lakes and rivers, however, the barren and inhospital…

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Marula Beer: a great Tradition in South Africa~

Here we are: In South Africa, women transform a tart fruit into a famous sour brew. Even if many have questioned myths about drunken elephants wobbling through piles of fermenting marula, it’s established that humans have found multiple ways to turn the South African fruit into a beverages, from the commercialized Amarula Cream Liqueur to the more local specialty known as marula beer. The history of the Marula tree (Scelerocarya birrea) dated back thousands of years. Several archaeological evidence shows the marula tree was a source of nutrition as long…

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The cult of beauty: the cranial deformations of the Mangbetu tribe.

The Mangbetu are a people of Central Africa, located in the north-eastern part of the Congo. The name Mangbetu refers, strictly speaking, only to the aristocracy of the people, who during the course of the nineteenth century established a number of powerful kingdoms. A more specific use of the term identifies the “Mangbetu” as the people who “govern”. The Mangbetu impressed the first European travelers with their political institutions and their art, in particular their extraordinary ability as builders, potters and sculptors. They also became famous for their alleged cannibalism…

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A trip in the Dogon Villages of Bandiagara Escarpment.

The Bandiagara Escarpment slices across the hot and dusty lands of the Sahel in Mali for over 160km. Bandiagara is a wonder of nature, where the cliffs rise almost 500 meters in the sky and range in geographic diversity from desert to cascading waterfalls plummeting into the plains below. We are in central Mali, about 90 km to the east of Mopti, where we can see an incredible sandstone cliff with a high plateau above and sandy semi-desert plains below. It’s known as the Bandiagara Escarpment, this cliff stretches for…

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