Posted on 10 January 2020 by Makhosi Mahlangu
Njathi Kabui is an internationally celebrated organic chef, food strategist, urban farmer and food activist. Chef Kabui has a strong background in sustainability, culture and food. He has worked on many projects , and has spoken widely, appearing on many forums dealing with issues of food justice and sustainability. He has worked with major universities, communities groups as well as individuals clients in the U.S, Africa and other parts of the world. He appears regularly on the media speaking on matters of culture on food. He periodically writes about food as well.
His work has been featured in interviews in the WUNC’s “The State of Things,” and in Kenya on Nation TV and INOORO FM. Listen to his perspective on famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, and Somalia on WAMU’s nationally syndicated NPR program “1A.” Kabui has spoken most recently at live events at The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, UC-Berkeley, Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill, Appalachian State University, Johnson C. Smith University, The North Carolina Museum of History’s African American Heritage Festival, and internationally in Dubai, the Netherlands, U.K and in Kenya on INOORO FM and Nation TV. Listen to his 2015 talk at Elon University, “Eating African Wisdom.” You can find his essay “Eating as an Expression of Self-Worth” appears in the book “Mindful Eating,” available for purchase this fall. You can find more of his writing here on the Chef’s blog.
Kabui was born in rural Kenya to a coffee farmer mother and restaurant owner father, both of whom took an active role in the Kenyan independence movement. Immigrating to the United States at the age of 20, Chef Kabui earned Masters degrees in both Medical and Urban Anthropology at the University of Memphis and a Bachelors in Political Science and Philosophy Studies at the historically black LeMoyne-Owen College. He now leverages his rich legacy by sharing his extensive knowledge of farming, culinary skills, and food justice as he travels across America, Europe, and Africa. He is committed to changing the way society views food, justice, and sustainability.
In college, Kabui started speaking and doing community organizing work around issues of social justice. Early in his work as an activist, he advocated for fair housing and healthy eating. He spoke to urban elementary school students about achievements in African history and the importance of academic progress for African American youth. He also shared widely the effects of colonialism on Kenya and the traditions of his native Gikuyu indigenous group, connect struggles abroad to those happening in the U.S. He founded The Association of African Students at LeMoyne-Owen College, showcasing African culture during African History Month, a tradition that continues to this day. In 2004 he founded a youth empowerment and community organizing group in the NC Triangle area for cultural and intellectual development and to improve community interdependence and self-reliance.
Chef Kabui grows a great deal of the food that he eats and serves his friends and family, and has long been involved in training others to do the same. He also mentors the youth in matters of sustainable living and achieving one’s goals.