Jacob Kaimenyi, a former Kenyan ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and mission to the European Union, is encouraging Kenyans to participate in ‘food diplomacy’ by promoting Kenyan cuisine abroad.
He believes that showcasing Kenyan dishes can help market the country’s diverse cultures and provide good returns for investors. Kaimenyi himself frequently served Kenyan food when hosting visitors at his official residence in Europe during his time in office. He urges Kenyans living and working overseas to invest in restaurants and take advantage of the popularity of Kenyan foods.
“Promoting local cuisine while in Europe gave my guests a chance to sample a wide range of Kenyan flavours, taste, and aroma, and in the process an opportunity to learn our cultures. Most of the foods, including arrow roots are in good supply, and have high nutritional and medicinal value,” he says.
Kaimenyi also notes that most food items from Kenya, such as avocado and mango, are sourced by astute European business people. As a trained dentist with expertise in nutrition, Kaimenyi emphasizes the health benefits of indigenous foods. Kaimenyi, also a chef, highlights the popularity of Kenyan food by sharing an example of when they served it during a forum organized by the Organisation of African, the Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).
The former ambassador is amazed at the admiration people have for Kenyan cuisine specifically nyama choma and ugali. Additionally, while on his assignment, Kaimenyi organized celebratory gatherings on national days giving preference to Kenyan delicacies for his guests. On top of nyama choma and ugali, Kaimenyi urges Kenyan living abroad to advertise other attractive and healthy local foods such as githeri, irio, and matoke.