Whilst travelling in West Africa there is a sure-fire way to ingratiate yourself with the more mature locals you may come in contact with. Make sure you have a few Kola Nuts in your bag to offer as gifts to your hosts.
Times have changed and the youth of the region are moving away from some of the traditions of the past. There are still a lot of people in the rural areas who will greatly respect you for offering them a gift with such social importance and added health benefits.
Most westerners find chewing a Kola Nut to be very bitter and not an enjoyable experience at all. Research has shown it is a non-addictive stimulant and in countries like Mali with large Muslim populations it became a very popular alternative to alcohol. Whilst its social importance should never be underestimated locals also claim it has the ability to enhance the flavour of food and can be chewed
prior to meals to act as an aid to indigestion. Farm labourers also use Kola as an appetite suppressant and to offset fatigue. In traditional medicine it is also used to treat whooping-cough and asthma.
On more local terms for us in the West, the Kola Nut is the source of the flavour for cola flavoured soft drinks. However, in most modern concoctions the cola flavour has been synthesised in labs as opposed to taken from the nut itself.
If you are looking at purchasing some in Bamako then they can be purchased in most local markets. To give you an idea, 1 kg costs roughly 1750 CFA.
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