Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Colonisation, the New World Order, and the eradication of traditional food habits in East Africa: historical perspective on the nutrition transition

Verena Raschkea1 p1 c1 and Bobby Cheemaa2

a1 Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

a2 Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand


Objective To discuss factors which have underpinned the nutrition transition in the countries of East Africa, including Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, from early colonisation to the current, oppressive political–economic structure.

Results Colonisation and neocolonisation in accordance with the desires of the New World Order have ensured the systematic extirpation of indigenous and traditional food habits in East Africa. These indigenous and traditional food habits, associated with myriad health benefits, have been progressively replaced by the globalised food system of the multinational corporations, a system inherently associated with the creation of non-communicable disease (NCD) epidemics throughout this region and globally. While the simplification of the East African food culture may be most apparent today, the nutrition transition has actually occurred over the past 400 years, since the onset of colonial occupation.

Conclusions It is imperative that greater efforts be directed towards exposing the colonial and neocolonial forces which have undermined food security and health status in East Africa. Heightened awareness of these forces is essential for proposing genuine solutions to the nutrition transition and related NCD epidemics throughout this region and, indeed, worldwide.

(Received November 23 2006)

(Accepted August 08 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Email

p1 Correspondence address: 163A Wellington Road, Paekakariki 6450, Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.