Photo by Whitney Hayward/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Fufu Is Having Its TikTok Moment, and the Kids Are Eating It Up

The latest TikTok trend has seen the West African dish garner fufu lovers from L.A to El Paso, Texas and beyond.

Do you remember how, in the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was at home baking banana bread? Well, 12832 years into COVID-19's reign, and the cooking challenges are as fashionable as ever, the latest venturing over to West Africa.

The latest trend keeping the youths alive and well has presented itself in the form of West African (and globally) loved starchy dish, Fufu.

For the non-enlightened, we've published A Quick Guide to Fufu here. Fufu is a very popular dish made by pounding starchy foods (cassava, yam, plantain and any others) and mixing with hot water. The dish is said to have originated in Ghana, but is enjoyed across the West African region and across the continent. Fufu has also cropped up in several Caribbean countries including Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Most trends happen randomly and this one is no different. Additionally, most trendy things coming out of Africa usually reach trend status when someone from the West says, "Woah, have you guys heard of this cool thing that I've just now discovered?", and this one is no different.

The originator of the #fufu trend, Joeneen Hull, was just trying out foods that she'd seen online people eating online, this time around Mukbangs of people eating popular West African cuisine. Speaking with the LA Times, the 31-year-old West Coast native couldn't take the cravings anymore and was committed enough to drive the 80 miles to her Nigerian restaurant choice. When finally presented with the warm spheres of flavor, Hull recorded her taste test for TikTok and, 6 million views later, we're now talking about this new TikTok trend.

As for West Africans and their reactions to the sudden sensationalism of a dish they probably were forced to eat from childhood, I'd say they're having a field day. Some fufu newbies are pleasantly surprised, pleasantly dissatisfied and others are just disrespectful. Social media users have been roasting recipes they deem unfit and celebrating recipes that I imagine resemble their own. "I think like most people, by looking at it, you come up with your own idea of what it will taste like," Hull says to LA Times, "And then once you taste it, it tastes absolutely nothing like that."

We've definitely seen an increased interest in African and Caribbean cuisine in Western Cultures over the years, and with #fufu videos on unbelievably popular app TikTok having amassed over 250 million views to date, we see the trends staying trendy.

Check out how #Fufu is made and a couple TikTok's posted by some very excited foodies here!

@dduker24 The energy that goes into making fufu.
♬ original sound - Mhamhe Ama

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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