As Slow Food launches a national branch in Kenya, the 24 local chapters will elect a committee, which will be in charge of coordinating and managing projects and activities across the country.
The vote will take place during the Annual General Meeting of the Slow Food Convivia Association of Kenya (SFCAK), taking place in Nakuru on March 10.
The new leadership will consolidate existing structures and extend Slow Food initiatives that are already very active in the country: Kenya has a strong network in place thanks to the presence of key Slow Food representatives, such John Kariuki, Vice President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity and Slow Food International Councilor for East and Central Africa, and Samuel Karanja, Slow Food International Councilor for Kenya; as well as all the farmers and activists involved in Slow Food projects.
In Kenya, the Slow Food network has identified 34 Ark of Taste products (African Finger Millet and Gitugi Tea for instance), established seven Slow Food Presidia and created 219 food gardens with a diversity of crops. These food gardens are part of the international 10,000 Gardens in Africa project. The gardens are spread around the country and include community, school and family gardens. Among them are the Chazon School Garden in the Rift Valley, the Iveche Community Garden in the central part of the country, and the Sikulu Family Garden in the western part of the country.
The launch of the national organization will begin with opening remarks by John Kariuki, who coordinates Slow Food activities in Kenya, followed by convivia presentations, and the elections. After the elections, the newly elected representatives will share their remarks and Slow Food International Vice President Edie Mukiibi from Uganda will officially endorse the association with a closing speech.
The artisanal products that Slow Food is supporting so far with the Presidia project are the following seven: Lare Pumpkin, Mau Forest Dried Nettles, Molo Mushunu Chicken, Molo Sheep, Nzoia River Reed Salt, Ogiek Honey and Pokot Ash Yogurt. The goal for the newly established association will be to extend the work on these fronts and identify many more small-scale producers to support in order to protect the country’s unique culinary heritage.
The work of Slow Food in Africa began with a constitution of a network after the first edition of the Terra Madre delegate meeting in Turin, Italy, in 2004. Since then, the African network has been growing steadily. Many African students can also be found at the Slow Food University of Gastronomic Sciences, where new African students embark on a Bachelor or Masters degree every year, most of them receive a scholarship. So far, there have been 25 African students, 23 of which received a scholarship. At present there are 9 African students enrolled in the university. When students return to their native country, many end up working as leaders in the fields of gastronomy and agriculture.
Photo: Slow Food Youth Network Kenya