Wakanda Motherland Cuisine brings West Africa to Greenville’s food scene

Of the over 1,300 VisitGreenvilleSC restaurant members, 200 are downtown alone, and a quarter of those now represent 34 international countries on five continents.
Wakanda Motherland Cuisine and Lounge is looking to add to an already burgeoning international food scene in Greenville
Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 8:36 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Greenville has been called Food & Wine’s “Next Great Food City” and its emerging food scene has solidified it spot as Southern Living’s “The South’s Best City on the Rise.” It’s also part of the reason The New York Times calls Greenville one of the ‘52 Places to Go in 2023.’ So, what’s missing? Some say more African cuisine.

Togo, is a West African nation known for its beaches, markets and food.

“The food of West African cuisine will bring you life,” said Kokoe Ahitte-Boyogueno.

And it’s where Ahitte-Boyogueno was born and learned to cook.

“The way we were raised in my (youth), if you didn’t know how to cook you (wouldn’t) get married,” she said.

And by age seven, Ahitte-Boyogueno was already perfecting certain West African staples to include jollof rice, suya, bitter leaf soup, and fufu.

“These are very traditional dishes,” she said.

In 2003, she and her husband relocated to the Upstate, a region they say was missing something.

“Africa is a big continent, and it’s not represented here,” Ahitte-Boyogueno said. “It was not diverse enough for me. Just my opinion. And Africa is undervalued.”

Then came a decade of historic growth and global recognition.

“When you’re listed as one The New York Time’s ‘52 Places to Go in 2023,’ or one of Food & Wine’s ‘Next Great Food Cities’, that’s the kind of accolades money can’t buy literally, money cannot buy those accolades,” said Taryn Scher, VisitGreenvilleSC spokesperson. “That means everything for a destination.”

Scher estimates between 2010 and 2012, Greenville began gaining international attention and greater credibility.

“We believe people travel for food, and we have a really exciting food story and a really unexpected food story to tell,” she said.

For example, of the over 1,300 VisitGreenvilleSC restaurant members, 200 are downtown alone, and a quarter of those now represent 34 international countries on five continents.

“You’re tasting flavors of the world and not just contrived flavors, but real, authentic flavors of the world in a place like Greenville, South Carolina,” Scher said.

Earlier this month, VisitGreenvilleSC launched a new landing page dedicated to its global flavors and international food scene, and on the list is Wakanda Motherland Cuisine and Lounge, which also celebrates its first successful year.

“We’ve got Columbian, Peruvian, Afghan, Jamaican, Middle Eastern, Persian, and German – I mean essentially we’re getting to a place where you throw a dart on a map and we probably have a restaurant,” Scher said.

“Anyone that wants to know about African cuisine, they can come here,” Ahitte-Boyogueno added. “There’s the music, the food, the people, the culture – they can come here. If they have any questions or if they plan on going to visit Africa they will have the first taste here.”

Providing more than just food for people like Stoney Taylor.

“It’s way bigger than the food, it’s for community and for everybody to feel free to come in here,” Taylor said.

Which leads us to the name “Wakanda,” it’s not by happenstance nor is it affiliate with the Black Panther film series. Just look at the artwork on the walls inside the Howell Road location, which tells a story.

“It means unity of two trees that brings power, strength and love,” Ahitte-Boyogueno said.

“It’s a home, it’s a home to me,” Taylor added.

To learn more about Wakanda Motherland Cuisine and Lounge visit https://www.wakandaloungebarandrestaurant.com/

To learn more about VisitGreenvilleSC and its international food scene visit Your Guide to International Cuisine in Greenville, SC | VisitGreenvilleSC

To become a VisitGreenvilleSC Member visit Become a Member of VisitGreenvilleSC