Written by Taylor Newman, MS/DI student | Edited by Laurel Sanville, MS, RDN, LD
While Wakanda may not be a real place, it is supposed to be located in East Africa. The exact location has varied throughout Marvel Comics but one area that was suggested was the north end of Lake Turkana, making Wakanda somewhere between South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. These countries are very diverse in people, languages, and importantly—food!
The Black Panther comic book writer recently discussed what Wakandans would have eaten. She mentioned that Wakanda pulls from the cultures of the African nations that surround it for things like jewelry and music, so they would do the same thing for their food. While Wakanda is a rich country and could afford the best ingredients, it would also probably be influenced by the traditional meals of countries it shares its borders with.
What would those meals look like? Meals from these areas tend to be affordable and full of fruits and vegetables. Let’s explore some of the traditional foods from countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda so you can eat like a Wakandan right at home.
Eat vegetables from Kenya
Kenya has a variety of landscapes and climates, which allows many different types of plants to grow. The predominant crop is Kenya is maize, or corn, but people eat many different types of fruits and vegetables. Leafy vegetables like collards and kale grow wild and are regularly eaten.  Kenya’s dietary guidelines suggested that people eat “plenty of green leafy vegetables, red and yellow vegetables and fruits every day; and include a variety of other vegetables and fruit.”
Sukuma Wiki is a traditional Kenyan dish with an ingredient that should be familiar to Georgians-- sautéed collard greens. Sukuma wiki is translated to “stretch the week”, meaning this recipe could be eaten throughout the week when ingredients were scarce.
Here’s a Sukuma Wiki recipe:
Ingredients (2 servings)
8 cups sukuma wiki (kale or collard greens), destemmed and chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
½ cup water
- In a cooking pan, add the vegetable oil and onions. Sautee the onions until they are golden brown. Add tomatoes and cook until they soften into a paste.
- Add the sukuma wiki, salt to taste and ¼ cup water.
- Let the mixture cook on low heat for approximately 5 minutes or until the sukuma wiki has reached a desired tenderness, and still crunchy.
- Serve with rice or any meat of your choice.
Eat grains from Ethiopia
Have you ever heard of a grain called teff? It is one of the main crops in Ethiopia. Teff is a gluten-free, “ancient” grain that is high in fiber and has more calcium than other common grains like wheat and rice. In Ethiopia, teﬀ is usually ground into ﬂour and fermented (a form of food preservation) to make a squishy sourdough bread called injera.
While teff happens to be quite expensive, another grain popular in Ethiopia is affordable and can be easily found here in the States. Emmer, a type of farro, is a high protein grain that can be ground into a flour and baked into bread or cooked whole and used like rice. It can also be crushed and cooked with milk to make a porridge.
Eat fruit from Uganda
Ugandans love their fruit. Some of Uganda’s major exports include dried fruits like pineapples, apples, bananas, and jackfruit. The one you’re probably least familiar with is jackfruit, a rough-skinned fruit with an orange-yellow center. You can eat the ripe fruit raw or you can cook it. The seeds can even be roasted and eaten. One cup of sliced jackfruit provides about 16% of your daily potassium needs.
Bringing Wakanda to your kitchen table is as easy as adding these nutritious foods to your next meal.
Black Panther original photo source
Map of Lake Turkana area original photo source
Sukuma wiki original photo source
Jackfruit original photo source
 Maundu, M. P., Ngugi, W. G., & Kabuye, H. S. C. (1999). Traditional food plants of Kenya. National Museums of Kenya.
 Fieldhouse P. Food and nutrition: customs and culture. Springer; 2013 Dec 14.
 Food and Agriculture Organization. (n.d.). Food-based dietary guidelines - Kenya. Retrieved March 13, 2018, from http://www.fao.org/nutrition/education/food-based-dietary-guidelines/reg...
 Easy Kenyan recipes and desserts you can make at home. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2018, from http://www.kenya-information-guide.com/kenya-recipes.html#sukuma
 Baye, K. (2014). Teff: nutrient composition and health benefits (Vol. 67). Intl Food Policy Res Inst.
 National Research Council. (1996). Lost crops of Africa: volume I: grains. National Academies Press.
 Namuwoza, C. H. A. R. I. T. Y., & Tushemerirwe, H. E. D. W. I. G. (2011). Uganda: Country Report. The World of Organic Agriculture.