Positive Steps in Kenya

Empowering the Youth to care for the disadvantaged in their communities

A Delicious Dish of Termites!

Long ago, one of the most rare delicacies here in Siaya was the locust.  Reportedly, locusts last visited this region in the 1930s.  The old generation recall with nostalgia how wonderful these ‘visitors’  tasted.

A boy collecting ng’wen on a path. He eats a few raw as he deposits others in his bag for later.

Today, locusts do not visit this part of the world.  But we have indeed found a delicious substitute!
Although not a total replacement for locusts as such, termites are the latter day delicacy.  They have a specific season each year when they come out of the ground and straight into our stomachs.

To the uninitiated, a termite is simply a termite, but there are different types of termites.  The generic name in the local Luo language is ng’wen.  This refers to all kinds of termites of the edible kind, of course.

The ones shown in these photographs come out during the onset of the long rains in April – its specific name is Agoro.  It is the most sought after type of ng’wen because of its exceptional sweetness.  It comes out late in the night between midnight and 3am.  During this period people are always visiting ant hills late at night to see if there are signs of termites coming out.  Today there are fewer active anthills because of modern agricultural chemicals which are used to kill the termite queen to avoid destruction of crops by ants.

For this reason, people wait to pick them in the morning when they have already shedded their wings and buried themselves in small

The ground is littered with the wings of these flying termites. Some get away but others end up as a snack!

mounds.  A few lucky people who stay near local shopping centers will strategically wait under security lights which attracts termites for a huge catch.  Those in the villages wait for daybreak to pick them along footpaths and on the farms.  On a typical day like this, children going to school would risk arriving late in school for the chance to pick the delicacy for a rare lunch.

Women and men alike will take a break from working on the farm to pick as many Agoro as they can to supplement their diet.  On these particular occasions spirits are high especially during meal time.
Other types of ng’wen include asis which comes out every September.  The asis comes out between 1 and 4 pm.  It is salted, a little water sprinkled and eaten raw with kwon, the local dish of corn meal that is the staple meal in Siaya.

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This entry was posted on May 28, 2012 by in Uncategorized.

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