• Karen Seiger

Guest Blogger: Do They Even Have Hot Sauce In Africa?

The thing is, I don’t have much of a kitchen. So when I met guest blogger Joey Cameron of Ukuva iAfrica and saw his grand collection of African spices and hot sauces, I felt woefully ill equipped to test them out. I have tried many of them, and I’ve loved them all (especially the Swazi Mama Mamba Hot Sauce). But then I realized Joey is also an excellent writer, and so I thought I’d sit back and let him tell the story about how these wonderful spices crossed the ocean and now grace our markets. Having lived and worked in southern Africa myself, the diverse flavors and beautiful colors of the entire Ukuva iAfrica collection make me happy.

Ukuva iAfrica Hot Sauces at Out to See Market

In the cultural fondue that is the New York City market scene, culinary-intrigue is not hard to come by. One would think that in a place where you can find anything from ramen burgers to kimchi bone broth and glow in the dark Japanese lobster tacos (not really), you’d probably seen it all. Which is why, while vending in the city recently, the following question took me by surprise,

“Do they even have hot sauce in Africa?”

I remember thinking to myself, “Did she really just ask me that?” I checked my six o’clock for African-food-vendor-backup (it should exist) and responded with the hyperbolic agility that only an African wildcat could muster. I started to tell a story about how traditional African dancing evolved from years of stomping in prehistoric chili pits. I even claimed that we started the rain dance, with the sole purpose of soothing the mouths of ancient Zulu warriors who sampled the local fire sauce. Then it hit me: she had a valid question, and this was my chance to tell a true African story. Our story.

Yes, Africa is full of Africans, naturally, but much like the US, everyone from India to Portugal, The Netherlands, Germany and the Middle East stopped in for a fun-filled visit way back when. With the travelers came the literal seeds of change. The fruits of those seeds not only changed the way Africans cooked, they also created a booming capsicum (pepper) industry that would eventually span from Angola to Algeria and back to Sudan.

Piri Piri, or Peri Peri as it is sometimes pronounced, means ‘pepper-pepper’ in Swahili. Originally brought to Goa by the Portuguese, it now grows in Uganda, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the tropical forests of South Sudan & the highlands of Ethiopia.

If you’re still curious as to where Ukuva iAfrica comes in, well, in the early 90’s, our founder Nigel Wood’s travels took him to the spice markets of Tanzania, Zanzibar and Morocco, where he discovered coffee, cinnamon, black pepper, salt, cloves, nutmeg and chili. Lots of chili.

Spices in the world-famous markets of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania

He then gathered recipes everywhere from the beaches of Kenya to the lakes of Malawi and back. And when he arrived in Cape Town, he hit the kitchen. Ukuva iAfrica was born.

“Bo-Kaap” or Upper Cape, in Afrikaans, is a somewhat mid-gentrification neighbourhood on a hillside overlooking the city of Cape Town. Originally known as The “Malay Quarter” for its rich cultural beginnings, the location has evolved into a bright, iconic South African tourist attraction. It is also the birthplace of Ukuva iAfrica.

To be honest, Nigel had no intentions of starting a brand. The idea was initially hatched as an employment project for refugees and underprivileged citizens in the city of Cape Town, South Africa. Ukuva iAfrica has since evolved into a worldwide supplier of African food, wine and heritage. Or, as we like to say, ‘a story told in flavors’.

Ukuva iAfrica Spices and Hot Sauces

Each and every one of our Fair Trade, hand crafted food products are made with all-natural ingredients and based on original recipes from around the continent of Africa – and they’ve recently landed in the USA.

With the help and support of Karen Seiger, Chelsea Market Baskets, Fulton Stall market and Queens County Market, to name a few, we’re hopefully here to stay.

So I suppose, the answer to that original question is this: not only do we have hot sauce in Africa, we’ve got Africa in our hot sauce. And, we’d love to share it with you.

Ukuva iAfrica and our counterparts live by the three principals that keep our business responsible, ethical and uniquely African:

Fair Trade. Sustainable Relationships. Traditional Recipes.  

Follow our beat online: www.Ukuva-iAfrica.com and

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~Guest Blogger Joey Cameron, Managing Director, Ukuva iAfrica

Joey Cameron selling Ukuva iAfrica hot sauces in the cold at the Out to See Market

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