• The opening of the newest branch was by, Ghanaian high Commissioner H.E Damptey Bediako Asare and First Secretary of Senegal Embassy Abdoulrahmane BA and Dr John Amodu - on behalf of  Nigerian high commissioner to Kenya Ambassador Alhaji Yusuf Yunusa.

• The theme of the launch was “East meets West,” a nod to West African cuisine and culture merging with East Africa highlighting their similarities and appreciating their differences

Mama Ashanti’s managing directors and co-founders Afum Matta and husband Hawas Matta
Image: MADUBI

After 8 years of operating in Kenya, Mama Ashanti – a restaurant specialized in preparing and serving delicious West African dishes has expanded its base into the leafy suburbs of Karen.

The restaurant has opened its second branch at The Waterfront Mall, Karen.

The opening of the newest branch was by, Ghanaian high Commissioner H.E Damptey Bediako Asare and First Secretary of Senegal Embassy Abdoulrahmane BA and Dr John Amodu - on behalf of  Nigerian high commissioner to Kenya Ambassador Alhaji Yusuf Yunusa.

The theme of the launch was “East meets West,” a nod to West African cuisine and culture merging with East Africa highlighting their similarities and appreciating their differences

The restaurant has been in existence since 2014 and over the years it has organically grown into what it now considered an authentic West African brand.

Serving delectable meals consistently in a warm and welcoming environment that makes you “feel at home.”

In an interview with Mpasho’s Hannie Petra, Mama Ashanti’s Directors Afum Matta and husband Hawas Matta said that they are excited about the launch of their newest branch.

The other directors include Nana Boateng and Mr & Mrs Kris Senanu.

Moments captured at the launch of Mama Ashanti's new branch at The Waterfront Karen
Image: MADUBI

The establishment (Mama Ashanti) was put together by three West African families who were determined to sell their culture and at the same time feed their people working in Kenya and Kenyans at large.

This explains why more than 60 percent of their customers from their existing Kilimani branch are Kenyans or East Africans who love and enjoy West African cuisine.

Where did the name Mama Ashanti Originate from?

Afum Matta replied; “Mama Ashanti is a West African Restaurant in Kenya and the Ashanti is a tribe in Ghana which is also a West African Country. And it’s known for female strength and strong worriers,”.

“Business has been great, you want to imagine that because we serve West African food, then West Africa dominates our clientele, but that is not the case. We have East Africans who have made this their home as well,”  Hawas Matta remarked.

One of the couple behind the success of Mama Ashanti restaurant has been in Kenya since 2011.

 “We have been here since 2011 and Kenya is a very easy place to live and a very good place to live. We even have a baby here who is completely Kenyan. So Kenya is great, Kenya is home.

Adding that; "We wanted to find out how business has been in the past 2 years or so, based on the fact that the Hotel industry was one of the most affected sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It was slow with lots of restrictions because of the curfew and all that. There were hours within which people could move and also operate. There were certain things you could sell and others you could not.

At first, we could not do on sight business and we opted for a delivery business. Unfortunately, that survived but with a much scaled-down set of staff and it grew,".

Moments captures during the launch of Mama Ashanti Restaurant in Karen

During our conversation with the directors of Mama Ashanti, we sought to find out what inspired them to set up a restaurant in a foreign country.

"We saw the need and we understood that one of the best things that West Africa has is our cuisine and we decided why don’t we open a West African restaurant and so far it has been received so well by Kenyans,” Afum Matta explained.

She went on to describe the type of food found at their restaurant.

“For most of our dishes, we have the chilli on the side. We have a wide range of offerings; things like Nyama Choma (but in the West African way), our Joloff is close to Pilau, so for those who are a bit adventurous ad Kenyans you can go into what we call the West Africa special on our Menu and really dive into the really ethnic test of the whole thing,” she expounded.

Speaking about their newest, Karen Branch the couple said that it was about time to expand their empire in Nairobi and The Waterfront happened to be a perfect location.

“We wanted to be able to dine with good West African food and that was on demand, nice ambiance, a place where you can take your family and we could not find one and we decided to solve our problem for ourselves and also do it at a scale so that we could help others who would love to do the same. That’s what inspired us,” Hawas Matta said.

He further disclosed that they also have another branch in Uganda – operating under a different name.

“We are invested in another branch in Uganda called the bite of Benin and our menus are almost identical,".

"Part of our vision is to become the international brand for West African cuisine.

“We hope to expand our presence in Kenya even more to other counties as well,”

Being a restaurant specializing in preparing and serving West African cuisine you may wonder how they source their products.

 “Some of the products we use are locally sourced. We also have West Africa Suppliers in Kenya where we are able t get all that we need,”. 

“What makes Mama Ashanti cuisine stands out in Kenya is the authenticity. We have put measures in place to ensure that the food you’re getting in Mama Ashanti is home food, it is like the food you get in Nigeria, in Ghana, or any other place in East Africa,” Afum says.

As they sign off, Hawas Matta and his wife said;

“Please come give Mama Ashanti a try and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

"And if you have tasted Mama Ashanti food, you are really missing out we are prepared to receive you and we love to receive guests,”.

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