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Fancy rats for breakfast, snake for lunch?

By Brian Homewood, Reuters | 2012-02-03 13:07:49.0 | COMMENTS [ 37 ]

Afcon soccer tournament offers up a rare glimpse into one of Africa's most secretive countries nations

MALABO — In Equatorial Guinea,  snake and wild rat feature among the culinary delicacies and empty six-lane highways contrast with dusty townships.     

The only Spanish-speaking country in Africa, Equatorial Guinea is co-hosting the African Nations Cup with Gabon, allowing a rare glimpse into one of the continent’s most secretive nations.      

Usually averse to publicity, the quirky country comprised of two parts — a small region on the African continent and Bioko island in the Gulf of Guinea — has found itself hosting dozens of foreign journalists and a few hundred visiting supporters.     

The first surprise on arrival in Malabo is that, unlike any other country in sub-Saharan Africa, the visitor is not swamped by taxi touts, instead having to hunt for the vehicles which are hidden in a dark corner of the car park with the driver invariably asleep in the front seat.     

The drive into town is along a sparkling new, fully-lit six-lane highway, with almost no traffic apart from a broken-down taxi which has been abandoned in the fast lane.

Shiny new apartment blocks and office buildings line the road.     

However, turning down a side-street quickly leads to typically African townships, where residents have to collect water from communal standpipes and sanitation is rudimentary.     

More developed neighbourhoods have an almost Caribbean feel, with simple bars pumping out local music.     


The only national television station broadcasts an eclectic mix of cartoons, John Wayne films dubbed into Spanish, Mexican soap operas, Soviet-style news bulletins and hours of music videos.     

A typical news programme featured a 10-minute report on the delivery of a new vehicle scanner for the government, new uniforms for the crew of a local airline and endless footage of politicians shaking hands with each other and signing documents.     

“Dogtanian”, a classic 1980s cartoon, features heavily on the schedule.

There is no weather forecast, although if there was it would be the same every day... hot and muggy.     

Although Malabo is on a tropical island, the sea is rarely glimpsed with no seafront road and few public beaches.     

Eating locally is cheap, with a plate of grilled chicken and plantains costing 1000 CFA francs (R16, $2) at a modest local eatery, while uninspiring buffets cost more than 10-times as much in European chain hotels.     

Although good value, venturing into local establishments can produce surprises.     

“Come out here and have a look at this,” said the proprietress of one in the decaying old centre of Malabo, proudly displaying a large piece of snake meat kept in a paper bag.     

It looked rather like a chunk of tuna fish, but the blue and yellow scaly skin gave away its true identity.     

Snake, along with wild rat and lizard, is popular. Snake is best when cooked in sauce while the rat lends itself to grilling, according to local gourmets.     

West African-style pepper stews can be found but are eaten with French bread rather than fufu, the thick paste made with pounded yam found in the rest of the region.      

The Spanish colonial legacy means that coffee is good and chorizo makes frequent appearances.     


Getting around involves running the gauntlet of collective taxis with fixed routes.     

The process is to flag one down, tell the driver where you are going and wait while he mulls it over, a process which invariably causes the car to block the road and leads to a cacophony of hooting.     

If he is heading roughly in the right direction, you get in, if not you try again.     

Trips can involve long detours depending on where other passengers are heading and the fare, either 500 or 1000 CFA francs, depends largely on the whim of what the driver considers to be a “long” or “short” trip.      

Arguing that the trip was only “long” because the driver took a detour for his other passengers rarely brings success.     

Those who are tempted by the impressive modern bus shelters along some of the city’s new highways will find themselves in for a long wait as no buses actually run.     

The general impression is that there is less poverty and crime than in neighbouring countries, although people are considerably more reserved and seem wary, even distrustful, of foreigners.

“It’s a very relaxed place. People are poor but nobody is starving,” said David Alvarez, a Spain-raised member of the national team.

“You can walk down the street at ten o’clock in the evening and nothing will happen.”     


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yaggiee mannn!!

2012-02-03 13:20:24.0 | 0 replies


Why Sies... You must get around in Africa a bit more.

This is what happens if you let go of your farmers.

SA is lucky to have butcheries, believe me....

One day we will BEG our farmers to stay !!!....

2012-02-03 15:51:35.0 | 0 replies


o thoma go totelwa bjale o bolela mogwete ka Limpopo san....skare tlwaela, jou moerskont

2012-02-03 16:06:56.0 | 0 replies

Pathetic and stupid comment! Ever seen what they eat in Asia? And in North America where they eat bears? And in France and other European countries where they eat snails and tentacled creatures from the deep sea? And where does apartheid feature there? So you think trading your freedom for "acceptable food" is so great an idea?

2012-02-03 16:32:51.0 | 0 replies

People eat all sorts of things all over the world - so gud ppl don't be so disgusted at other people's delicacies. I certainly know that there are ppl localy, n yes SA, who eat snakes - there r restaurants even - that sell croc meat unless a crocodile is not a snake. My only problem here is the hygiene aspect of the whole thing - doesn't look clean at all, and whether this is legal with all sorts of species going extinct. A frog is so tasty - u shd tr it sometime!

2012-02-03 16:33:18.0 | 0 replies

You right. Do you know there are people who get surprised that we eat pap? To them it's cattle and chicken feed. What about the chicken feet and "mogodu" that we so much like? It surely is disgusting to others.

2012-02-03 16:39:00.0 | 0 replies

come n stay in Alex guys pls
lmao uyangibulala. But on a serious note, i would like to think that bush rats are less infected than those devils in Alex.

2012-02-04 10:11:26.0 | 0 replies


pfutsek, if u dont have something to say just keep quite and leave our beloved province

2012-02-04 10:47:31.0 | 0 replies

Typical ignorant South Africans, always trying to sound intelligent and special but always ending up sounding stup!d! So everyone must eat oysters,Lobsters, hamburgers , Pizzas, French fries before they appear civilized and upmarket to you. Meat is meat.

In the first picture ,they showed what is locally known as Porcupines and Bushcutters they are not rats but since you dummies (including the reporter) don't know your left from your right you just call them rats to demean the people eating them. I happen to eat both animals and they taste better than beaf and lamb combined.

In the Second picture they showed a Python, Africans have been eating snakes long before the westerners came so there is absolutely nothing new or shocking there.

The only thing wrong with those pictures is the environment where the meat is being sold. I will agree that it is filthy and i will never buy meat from such a place.

Whenever i am back in Nigeria,i always treat my self to a plate of pounded yam and bushcutter or porcupine mixed with ogbono soup at a local restaurant. It is very expensive but worth every penny. The food is way healthier than the KFC and McDonalds you lot eat down here that turn your women into cholesterol riddled oversized blobs and your men into potbellied, fat assed, bedroom wimps.

You South Africans are a disgrace to the African race, you spit on everything African and call it disgusting but worship everything that is not African.

When An Afrikaner eats a springbok or makes biltong out of it ,it is fine. When an Afrikaner eats an ostrich or makes biltong out of it,it is okay, however when your own people eat a snake it is ewww and disgusting. Have some pride in your heritage people.

Snakes are ewww to you but calamari is not, have you seen how disgusting a live or dead octopus looks? But you still eat calamari from ocean basket and you have the nerve to insult others who eat snakes??? In the Uk , Quails are shot down with double barrel guns and eaten for breakfast but that it is not disgusting or barbaric to you because it is done by white people.

Many of you eat sushi NOT because you enjoy the taste but because you have inferiority complex and want to appear "Modese". I am a proud African, a Nigerian, i love African delicacies and I will never spit on my heritage just to please my peers. It you don't wish to eat African food that is your prerogative but don't look down upon it call it disgusting.

The As!ans whose delicacies many people make fun are the healthiest human being on earth because some of the natural things they eat,while the westerners are dying of cancer and other strange diseases at a young age due all the chemical induced cholesterol filled food they eat.

With attitudes like this, i wonder why you were so pissed when the whole world criticized your VUVUzelas during the world cup? We can also say Vuvuzelas are lousy,loud & barbaric and make no sense in soccer!

Many of you black saffers are lost, you seem to hhate your skin so much that your will spit on anything that originates from Africa. It shows that you guy are still plagued by Apartheid, you need to wake up and fr3e your self from your mental prisons. Let no westerner tell you how to eat , dress, talk or breath. Make your own rules and embrace everything African. The As!ans are respected race today because they embraced their own culture and promoted it. Today people all over the world are dining in As!an restaurants. If you DON’T lift your race up, your race will always be spat on. WORD!

2012-02-04 12:10:35.0 | 0 replies

@ Ibleedgreenwhite

Shooo you sound a bit angry are u ok?

2012-02-04 16:24:51.0 | 0 replies

Ibleedgreenwhite, you said :

""Many of you black saffers are lost, you seem to hhate your skin so much that your will spit on anything that originates from Africa..."

Most of what you say make perfectly sense.... But why does the white SAFFERS escape your wrath.... I thought they are equally guilty......

Please don't cause division.. Please knock them as well....

2012-02-04 17:58:49.0 | 0 replies