Life has changed since Covid-19. Life will not be the same when the Corona Virus pandemic ends.
The fallout of the pandemic has manifested in many ways. One of the key measures taken by governments across the world to tackle the pandemic was by imposing lockdown on towns and cities. The lockdown meant the restriction of movement of people except for essential work and travel needs. Lockdown also meant the closure of most businesses not providing essential services.
For many in the Diaspora the effect of lockdown was both general and specific. General, in the sense that they were affected by the requirements to comply with the lockdown. Specifically, the lockdown brought forth two groups of Diasporas in respect of the way they consumed African food. The first group includes the ‘Occassioners’ who use African food sparingly. The second group is the ‘Hardcore’ of consumers whose daily culinary choices revolve around staple and experimental African dishes. They can’t live one day without something from ‘Mama Africa’, the ubiquitous pot of delicacies that remind them of home.
What are they going to do under Covid-19 restrictions?
In most African communities, the purveyors of African food are usually some distance away. In places like Canada, the USA and parts of Europe, people travel considerable distances to buy their supplies. A lockdown restricting travel was bound to affect what is available to African dinner tables if they run out. Thankfully food suppliers are considered part of Essential services during the lockdown. It appears that most people can get the stuff they use for their African dishes. Some suppliers are offering take away and online services. That’s sorted then? For now.
On a sanguine note, baking yeast disappeared from the shelves in the United Kingdom as panic over the availability of bread led people to stock up on flour and other baking ingredients. For some Africans in the Diaspora it has meant the inability to make one or two delicacies. Such as Nigerian Puff-Puff’. That is a hard pill for many to swallow because Puff-Puff is the ultimate comfort food when you are in isolation.
So far so good. What happens if the lookdown carries on for longer? For many African countries, temporary cessation export of their food and cash crops is one of the immediate impacts of Covid-19. The good thing is that most cargo flights are continuing to move goods between countries.
This means that staple foods from Africa are still arriving at ports in the Diaspora. Many governments are mindful of keeping economic activity going during this challenging period.
A clear consequence of this is the risk to supply of food staples to the diaspora markets. Recent investigations show that shortages of popular items have not yet occurred. This is most likely due to advance orders and inventory.