East Africa

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

East Africa is here taken to extend from Uganda, Kenya through Tanzania to Malawi and Zimbabwe, taking in also Zambia, Burundi, and Rwanda. For the Somali Republic, see horn of Africa. angola and mozambique have their own entry, as does madagascar (malagasy Republic).

Apart from the coastal plains, most of the terrain of these countries is highland plateau, enjoying some of the best climates in Africa, free of the humidity of W. Africa and the aridity of the desert regions.

One of the most remarkable things about the food of the highland Africans of E. Africa is the almost total lack of meat in the diet, in spite of the abundant game and long tradition of breeding cattle. These were regarded as wealth, not food, and the famous Masai and related peoples lived almost entirely on milk products and the blood of the animals. Others, before the introduction of maize, lived mostly on millet, sorghum, and bananas with such greenstuffs as could be gathered.