The 21st century sometimes referred to as the information age has made us more conscious of what we are eating and what our body needs to be healthy. This is because we are living in ironical times where some “foods” have basically become poisons because they cause more harm than good in the body. At the center of all this introspection is the continuous reminder of the importance of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. People are now adapting their diet to resemble the way past societies were eating centuries ago because we can now see the harm of all these processed and manufactured foods in our bodies.
We have a post on identifying foods of West-Africa of African such as vegetables, spices and grains and tubers. These posts try to list the food varieties and options that are available to us (many of which we don’t realise).
Fruits are now beyond just an accompaniment of your diet or a snack for the day. They are now a whole lifestyle to some, a complete diet by themselves that is sometimes used to treat various illnesses and create a better balance in the body.
We will be focusing on the fruits that are grown in west Africa and I am sure there are more which is why I will be updating the list constantly with more fruits and languages and you are welcome to subscribe to the channel if you want to receive email notification on the updates when they are available. I will not be referring to fruits that are imported from other countries and I am sure you will find that information elsewhere on the internet. So without further ado, let us begin:
English Name: Watermelon
Botanical Name: Citrullus lanatus
Hausa Name: Kankana
English Name: Banana
Botanical Name: Musa acuminata
Hausa Name: Ayaba
English Name: Pineapple
Botanical Name: Ananas comosus
Hausa Name: Abarba
English Name: Pawpaw, papaya
Botanical Name: Carica papaya
Hausa Name: Gwanda
English Name: Sweet Orange, orange
Botanical Name: Citrus sinensis
Hausa Name: Lemun Zaki, Lemu
English Name: Mango
Botanical Name: Irvingia gabonensis
Hausa Name: Mangwaro
English Name: Guava
Botanical Name: Psidium guajava
Hausa Name: Goba
English Name: Dates
Botanical Name: Phoenix dactylifera
Hausa Name: Dabino
English Name: Lemon
Botanical Name: Citrus x Limon
Hausa Name: lemun tsami
English Name: Lime
Botanical Name: Citrus × aurantiifolia
Hausa Name: Lemun Tsami
These common fruits as listed above can be found in the local market almost all year round and are known to the general public. You may even know many of the benefits and nutritional profile of these fruits and how to eat them. There is so much you can do with these limited selection of fruits because they can be bought almost at any time of the year the only difference is that they may be more expensive depending on the season.
Beyond just eating them as fruits, you can eat them in various ways such as baking, drinks and smoothies and also taking them as a home remedy for minor health issues such as fatigue, flu, dehydration, constipation etc. The internet is the best resource of finding creative and unknown uses of various things including fruits so with this information, challenge yourself to do something different with them.
English Name: Fig
Botanical Name: Ficus Cyathistipula
Hausa Name: Baure
English Name: Soursop, Guanabana, Brazilian pawpaw etc.
Botanical Name: Annona muricata
Hausa Name: Gwandar Daji
English Name: African star Apple
Botanical Name: Chrysophyllum albidum
Hausa Name: Agwaluma
English Name: Sugar Cane
Botanical Name: Saccharum officinarum
Hausa Name: Rake
English Name: Melon (there are many varieties)
Botanical Name: Cucumis melo
Hausa Name: Shamman
English Name: Sweet detar
Botanical Name: Detarium senegalense
Hausa Name: Taura
English Name: Jujube red date, ber, chinese date etc.
Botanical Name: Ziziphus jujuba
Hausa Name: Magarya
English Name: African Black plum
Botanical Name: Vitex Doniana
Hausa Name: Dinya, Kanya
English Name: Deleb Palm
Botanical Name: Borassus sambiranensis
Hausa Name: Giginya
English Name: Avocado
Botanical Name: Persea americana
Hausa Name: Fiya
English Name: Sugar apple, custard apple, cherimoya etc.
Botanical Name: Annona reticulata
Hausa Name: Pasadabur
English Name: Velvet Tamarind, African velevet tamarind, Black velvet tamarind etc.
Botanical Name: Dialium guineense
Hausa Name: Tsamiyar biri
English Name: Doum Palm
Botanical Name: Hyphaene thebaica
Hausa Name: Goruba
English Name: African Locust Bean
Botanical Name: Parkia biglobosa
Hausa Name: Dorawa
English Name: Baobab, tree of life etc.
Botanical Name: Adansonia Digitata
Hausa Name: Kuka
English Name: Egyptian Balsam, desert date
Scientific Name: Balanites aegyptiaca
Hausa Name: Aduwa
English Name: Jackalberry, African Ebony
Botanical Name: Diospyros mespiliformis
Hausa Name: Kanya
English Name: black plum, malabar plum, woodland waterberry, Jamun,
Botanical Name: Syzygium guineense
Hausa Name: Malmo
English Name: Mongongo, Manketti
Botanical Name: Schinziophyton rautanenii
Hausa Name: Kadanya
English Name: Tamarind
Botanical Name: Tamarindus indica
Hausa Name: Tsamiya
Most of us are familiar with the long one year waiting period between seasons before we can enjoy a season fruit once more. These are the seasonal or uncommon fruits listed above. Some in the list are not found or sold commonly in the market you have to find out the little corners of the market that sell them. Others in this list are not even sold in most local markets such as African locust bean fruit but can be seen with children that climb the trees in the wild to pluck the fruits. This is partly because of the low or non-existent demand as we now take more commonly available fruits than local indigenous fruits such as orange, Banana, watermelon etc. so, If you want some, you have to get someone that will go up the tree to get it for you (sorry).
Figs, African velvet tamarind, cashew, melon, sugar cane and passion fruit can be readily found in many seasons of the year. They usually come in a variation of colors and sizes. The others such as African star Apple, sweet detar and Avocados are usually consistently available for shorter periods.
The recipes for these fruits require a little more creativity because many of them are unknown to the typical internet users. So it is time to get to work and let me know in the comments below if you have a recipe or a special way of preparing any of these fruits so that we can learn from you.
I hope this small list of fruits have reminded you of the many more option we have for fruits in Africa beyond just the typical banana and oranges and the occasional pawpaw and watermelon that we think of when we go fruit shopping. Some of these fruits can just be enjoyed as a snack and some of them due to their high fiber will make you feel full after taking them such as soursop. Believe me, it happened to me recently.
If you do know of other common fruits in west Africa, let me know in the comments below. Questions, comments, suggestions are welcome and if you know more, please share it with us so that we can all learn. The next language I will be adding to this list is the Yoruba language. I am working on it so be patient with me please.
Thank you for reading till the end and until I see you next, stay safe!