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Women's Work

kikuyu woman, kenyaIt is generally the women and girls of Sub-Saharan Africa who do most of the work related to food. This includes work on the plantations or shambas (as cultivated fields are called, in French and Swahili), such as planting, weeding, harvesting, as well as cooking and serving food. (Not to mention child rearing, cleaning, and hauling water and firewood.)

By comparison African men seem lazy to the foreign observer. It should be noted that men's traditional duties included clearing land for farms, hunting, fishing, and tending livestock.


Theodore Roosevelt

the woman is the drudge and beast of burden

Theodore Roosevelt went on a year-long African hunting safari in 1909-1910, and wrote African Game Trails: An Account of the African Wanderings of an American Hunter-Naturalist (New York: St. Martin's Press--Peter Capstick Adventure Library, 1988; originally published New York: Scribner, 1910), in which he wrote:

Through the bright sunlight we saw in front of us the high rock peaks of Kenia [Mount Kenya], and shining among them the fields of everlasting snow which feed her glaciers; for beautiful, lofty Kenia is one of the glacier-bearing mountains of the equator. ... For two days we traveled through a well-peopled country. The fields of corn--always called mealies in Africa--of beans, and sweet-potatoes, with occasional plantations of bananas, touched one another in almost uninterrupted succession. In most of them we saw the Kikuyu women at work with their native hoes; for among the Kikuyus, as among other savages, the woman is the drudge and beast of burden.
(Chapter X -- Elephant Hunting on Mount Kania)


Other African gastronomical excerpts

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