Kola nut: the ‘Welcome’ nut of Africa

Kola nut
Kola nut

Have you ever been to an African ceremony where there was no kola nut?  Have you ever tasted that bitter nut?  The Kola nut?  Well… first off, there are rarely African ceremonies without kola nut; kola nut is to African ceremonies what silicon is for the semiconductor industry… ubiquitous!  Kola nut is usually eaten by adults and is used to welcome guests in African villages…  I have tried that bitter nut! My dad would not let me touch it when I was a child,… I don’t think children taste those!  Once older, I tried it, and really I could not understand what was so special about it…  It is soooooo bitter!   All I know is that it is the “Welcoming” nut! It is often presented to chiefs or to guests as a welcoming sign.  It has a sweet aroma, and an attractive pink color… maybe that’s why I was attracted to it as a child (before tasting it)!  Kola nuts are broken from their shell and then consumed by chewing just like gum.  One can usually recognize an avid Kola nut consumer, because his teeth will be stained with a yellowish color: an advise… just like in everything ‘do not overdo!’  It is a caffeine containing nut, which is used to re-energize oneself, and also to ease hunger pangs.  It is said that it contains three times the caffeine found in coffee! So all the coffee lovers should rejoice!  Kola nut is an important part of traditional life in Africa, particularly in West and Central Africa… it is used in religious rites, sacred offerings, weddings, naming ceremonies, funerals, etc.  Chinua Achebe often mentions it in his books.  In the Western world, it is well-known as the main ingredient of the soft-drink Coca Cola!  How is it called in your country? Describe your first encounter with kola nut.

The following video is not the greatest, but it shows a Kola nut trader…. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Kola nut: the ‘Welcome’ nut of Africa

  1. Rob

    While visiting Cameroon to adopt I had the opportunity to visit our child’s village. At the end the end of our time of thanks to God, palm wine, and fish and rice. A woman took my hand and my wife’s hand and joined them together. She then placed a handful of Kola nuts in our joined hands. Our translator told us that it was an act of blessing for our marriage.


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