Hawa Hassan believes that expanding your pantry will expand your worldview. The Somalia-born cook has many layers to her identity — she’s the eldest daughter of 10 kids, she’s a former refugee immigrant, she’s lived in Seattle, Nairobi, Cape Town, Oslo, and Brooklyn — and food has helped her stitch all of these pieces of herself together. Now, her work is focused on building a “longer table” for everyone to take a seat and tell their own stories — especially people who are traditionally denied that opportunity.
Inspired by home and her family, Hawa founded her company BasBaas in 2014, which specializes in Somali condiments. And just last year in 2020, her first cookbook, In Bibi’s Kitchen, was published. In Bibi’s Kitchen is an illuminating collection of stories and 75 recipes from bibis (grandmothers) from eight African countries that border the Indian ocean. The groundbreaking book isn’t about what’s trendy or Instagram-pretty: It’s about what these older women really cook, a perspective that’s not often granted in today’s publishing world. “I love hearing about the people from home who see themselves reflected in this cookbook, ” Hawa explains. “I regularly get emails that are like, ‘My mom doesn’t keep recipes, and I’ve been waiting for something like this since I moved to the States.’”
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.