MalawianPresident Peter Mutharika was recently quoted in the local press telling millions of his starving citizens to try eating “mice and grasshoppers” to stave off hunger.

“But why should Malawian die with hunger when we have different of things to eat? Muzidya mbewa, zitete, komanso chinangwa!” he suggested.

The Internet reacted with a collective: “what he did just say?”

Foreign ears

While it might sound offensive to foreign ears for President Mutharika to casually suggest that his countrymen eat field mice and grasshoppers, locally his comments hardly elicited any shock. This is because Malawians have been making a meal out of both for years – in times of plenty and famine.

This is because Malawians have been making a meal out of both for years – drought or no drought

Practice what you preach

Though, that is not to say that there are not those in Malawi calling on the president and other government officials to lead by example and serve mice and grasshoppers at their meetings.

A This Is Africa experiment 

Malawi is currently in the grips of a severe drought. About half of the country’s population is facing the serious prospect of hunger.  President Mutharika has promised that his government is addressing the food shortage and has already purchased 1.2 million metric tons of excess maize stock.

But that many people around the continent would be shocked by Malawians eating field mice and grasshoppers (in times of feast and famine) has sparked a debate about whether Africans are too picky about what they eat. To get some answers about this we conducted a quick poll on the This Is Africa Facebook page.

Our long time followers on Facebook know that every day, around noon, we usually post something about what we are having for lunch on that particular day. On Tuesday, we used the “Lunch time Africa” post to conduct a little experiment.

This is what we posted:

To get some answers about this we conducted a little experiment on the This Is Africa Facebook page

We go a lot of “No, thank you” reactions but mixed in with those were also some “this is better than chicken” and “Yes, that looks tasty”. We know this wasn’t a scientific poll but its results are still relevant and instructive. The takeaway? Our experiment shows Africans are not as picky about what they eat as most people would want to believe.

So maybe next time you hear that some African leader has told his people to eat something that’s not normally on your plate (we’re pretty sure it’s just a matter of time), nod with understanding instead of shaking your head in disgust. It’s a big continent and food is food.