The Congo Cookbook » Sitemap » About African Cooking » Poison
Chicken | Fish | Meat | Rice | Soup & Stew | Sauce | Staple | Veg. & Side | Snack | Beverage | Other
Previous page: Native and Non-native crops

About African Cooking

African Recipe Nomenclature

An African Dinner, c. 1750

Dinner in Zanzibar

Hot Peppers and the Grain Coast

Native and Non-native crops


Sub-Saharan Africa

Women's Work


Recipe Indexes

Rare Recipes

About this Website

Learn About Africa

About African Cooking



A printed book or PDF download version of The Congo Cookbook is available from lulu

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
Search Now:

killing by cooking


In some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, one person poisoning another is often a topic of gossip, though it may occur more in people's imagination than in actual fact. However, people are careful about eating food prepared by persons outside their family. Bottled drinks are always served unopened and the bottlecap is removed in front of the recipient.

Olaudah Equiano

The natives are extremely cautious about poison

Olaudah Equiano (who was born in 1745 in what is now Nigeria, captured by slave traders and taken to America, eventually bought his freedom and became an author and early anti-slavery activist) wrote The Interesting Narrative of The Life of Olaudah_Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, The African (originally published by the author in London, 1789). In this paragraph he mentions poisoned food.

The natives are extremely cautious about poison. When they buy any eatable the seller kisses it all round before the buyer, to shew him it is not poisoned; and the same is done when any meat or drink is presented, particularly to a stranger.
(Vol. 1, Chapter 1)

Other African gastronomical excerpts

Robert Milligan

Africa abounds with deadly poisons

In The Fetish Folk of West Africa (New York: Fleming Revell, 1912) Robert Milligan, who lived in Libreville, Gabon wrote:

Africa abounds with deadly poisons, and African wives frequently contract an unpleasant habit of using them in the cooking pot. How common the practice may be judged by the African proverb, "We don't eat out of the same dish", used for instance as follows: "So-and-so is angry but what do I care? We don't eat out of the same dish." The wife prepares her husband's food and has the daily opportunity of using this deadly weapon.

Search this website:


The Congo Cookbook,; contact
© Copyright, 1999- 2009, Ed Gibbon, The Congo Cookbook (© copyright notice)

Next: Sub-Saharan Africa