Mpafu

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Mupafu

Mpafu or mupafu (Canarium schwinfurthii), as it is called in Uganda and other areas of tropical Africa, is also known as African elemi or canarium. These dark purple-colored elliptical fruits average 4 cm long and 2 cm wide and grow on a large tree (called muwafu) native to central Africa. These soften fruits are often served with a little sprinkle of salt between meals, or as a starter or dessert. In Uganda, especially central and eastern parts of the country, the sap from the tree that solidifies on the trunk is also burned in homes, houses of worship and in public to create a pleasant-scented smoke used to please the gods and spirits.

The collection of mpafu fruits from the wild and their preparation has always been an integral part of Ugandan life. Mpafu is not a cultivated fruit, but is harvested from the wild in limited quantities by individuals. They are mainly harvested for home consumption, but some people, especially women, sell small quantities at village roadside stands. Today, however, the trees and fruit are at risk of being lost because they are being overharvested for lumber production due to increased construction in the areas where the fruit grows.

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