Djiboutian Proverb: Un invité qui brise les plats de son hôte est pas vite oublié – A guest who breaks the dishes of his host is not soon forgotton
Over half of the 859,652 population of Djibouti live in the capital city, after which the country is named. Despite the country being home to one of the busiest and most strategic ports in the world, Djiboutians are mostly unemployed and living in extreme poverty. The land, of which only 10% is arable, is extremely unresponsive to farming and is frequently affected by drought. Therefore the majority of the country’s food supplies are imported raising the cost of food to way over what it’s population can afford. In 2006, then again in 2011, in what the UN called the Horn of Africa Food Crisis upwards of 400,000 Djiboutians, 1/3 of the population, was affected by famine and food shortages still remain.
In the 1990’s Djibouti experienced civil unrest between the two main ethnic groups, the Afars and the Somali Issas, which after a decade ended in 2000 with a shared power agreement. Recently there have been frequent tensions between the settled urban population and the ‘newcomers’ – over 20,000 refugees from neighbouring Somalia and Eritrea – whose care, shared with the UN, takes next to all of the government’s welfare budget, something which many Djiboutians are resentful for as they themselves are living below the poverty line.
In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 19,414 people to access clean water and develop economic self sufficiency.
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Beignets de Banane
I only knew about Djibouti before this because at uni we used to play the ‘countries game’ which is basically a load of people sitting round naming countries that begin with every letter of the alphabet… It was, as it’s borders are now, declared a country by the French in 1894, so the modern history of the country is very short . Before that it’s population was pastoral, and many of the people are ethnically Somali. The cuisine is very similar to the rest of the Horn of Africa – heavily influenced by it’s proximity to Yemen across the Red Sea.
Like so many other countries around the world bananas are a vital food source in Djibouti, this dish is simple and cheap to make which is very important in a country where more than half the people are living below the poverty line. While this is neither the national dish, or particularly traditional, the banana is a national favourite so there we go!
One banana/plantain has the same amount of calories as a potato, which is one reason why it is such an important staple food in developing countries and features in many cuisines across the world. It also grows all year round making it particularly important to countries like Djibouti that suffer from frequent drought. Bananas are grown in more than 100 countries. Apparently because of their high potassium content bananas are naturally a little bit radioactive. I remember when I was younger there was a thing that came out about eating too many bananas making you sick. I actually ate a whole bunch in one go once I love them so much! I’ve learnt so much about bananas while researching Djibouti. There is literally a million facts about them – there are actually banana scholars and there’s even an International Banana Agenda. Go look it up it’s crazy.
Today is Eid al Adha which is an important religious festival in Islam. Djibouti is in the region of Africa which is thought to have been the first to accept Islam more than 1000 years ago. 94% of the population of Djibouti are Muslim and this is a very special day so Eid Mubarak to everyone!
- Sugar (optional)
- Mush bananas and add flour – If you want add sugar but I don’t think it needs it.
- Heat oil in a pan, when hot add banana batter just like you would scotch pancakes.
- While these cook add sliced banana with skin on to a griddle pan – once cooked peel the skin off.
- Finish with raw banana.
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