Kokonte is a sumptuous gratifying meal and delicacy which is eaten in some parts of Togo, Benin and Ghana. It is usually served with peanut soup or groundnut soup with a tender finger of okra to go with it. Oh, and of course, any meat of one’s choice.
Depending on the flour, it usually turns out brown or black. In Ghana, to be precise, kokonte is usually eaten by ethnic groups such as Gas, Akans and the Hausa.
However, there are historical and immediate truths to point out here. In the drought and famine days of the early 1980’s, a lot of Ghanaians survived ‘by the grace of’ kokonte. At that time, the type of cassava that was available was only good for the production of kokonte.
Perhaps, that’s why this ravishing staple food is looked down upon and scorned like how Kofi Brokeman (roasted plantain and groundnut) was formerly scorned. Many Ghanaians would enjoy this food behind closed doors but when the suggestion is made to serve it at one’s birthday party or a great function, that suggestion is thrown out the window.
Kokonte is the bridge between banku and fufu and it has a distinctive dark colour. Kokonte can be said to come from recycled cassava, that is the transformation of waste into usefulness. This characteristic of the food makes it stand a chance to be advocated for and contributes immensely to the concept of the circular economy.
A circular economy is a regenerative system in which resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing material and energy loops. This can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling.
Also called, Face the wall, this nickname for kokonte shows how much we as a people and a country are embarrassed by our own history and selves. I believe that kokonte is more than just a food, it is a symbol of how far we have come as a country and reveals the many scars of Ghana.
At the end of the bowl of this gratifying meal we find out that indeed there’s a reason and a blessing for every struggle and that there’s a silver lining in every dark cloud. It is my hope that we will be able to stop facing the wall and face the audience and our mirrors. With the belief that although the storms may come, they cannot carry us away.
Written by: Emmanuel Hasford