One look at Yvonne Tagoe and the words that come to mind are: wholesome, warm and steady. She speaks in a manner that almost scares you but doesn’t because you take one look at her and immediately want to give her a hug. You want to give her a hug firstly because she looks like she gives good hugs, but secondly, because she has created a powerhouse Salone brand that had me at her Campbell Street store and Freetown Mall buying her snacks, like yes, you guessed it.
A crack addict! She’s rigid (like most Krio people) but warm (unlike most Krio people). I can’t quite describe it but it is intriguing and whatever it is. It needs to never ever stop. Mama Lu’s Kitchen has a range of ready to eat, top tier, original Sierra Leonean goodies that will have you hooked! They make you want to get on your knees like Hawa Tombo and pray for the damn lady.
My personal favourite is her spicy Cassava chips which have just the perfect amount of spices that you can feel but doesn’t leave you Ooh’ing and Ahh’ing from the heat. Her Chin Chin, Coconut cake and spicy sweet potato chips are also quite high on my list of items I get when they are in stock. Because as you can imagine, just like crack, you can’t just walk down the street and get them.
My aunt recently came back from an “Omicron Oliday” (that she thoroughly enjoyed) and the one thing I absolutely needed was some bags on Mama Lu’s. When I opened the bag, salivating, the crispy crunchy feel-good feelings all came rushing back. And I just had to come here and run my mouth about them!
See I come from a long line of snackers. My grandmother would always ask in Soso “Yom yom Goe?” which translates to “where the snacks at”. And my dad would always have these big half-eaten bags of plantain chips lying around whilst asking “Natin nor dae for cham?”. So when I tell you I take my snacking very seriously, I mean it!
To me what really sets Mama Lu’s apart from any competition not that she has any, is her consistency. A trait that unfortunately plagues Sierra Leonean brands is a lack of consistency. You’ll get a good batch today and next week you’re experiencing something completely different. I think that comes from her personality. Mind you, I’ve only met this lady once. But from that experience and the vibe her store and its cashiers give, you get the sense that she prides herself on excellence and maintaining a certain standard that she will not let up on. Because of her consistency and just how good her products are I find myself completely unbothered by the price is a little over your average bag of plantain chips. But then again, this isn’t your average bag of plantain chips!
She puts the Local Content in Local Content Policy if you ask me. And I think Mama Lu’s brand should be the poster child for snacking in Sierra Leone. Sadly, I have finished half of my stash in 24 hours and am sitting here contemplating whether I should slowly finish what I have left or throw caution to the wind and enjoy it whilst I can. Whatever the case may be, I know I’m going to savour every last bite.
P.S A little birdie told me that it was Yvonne’s birthday a couple of days ago. Happy Birthday, Mama Lu! She’s a Capricorn and that pretty much explains everything you need to know! They lead and the rest of us follow. I pray that you and your brand be blessed, continue to grow and hopefully one day reach the heights of Nestle, Mars and other Mega brands because honestly, that is the level you are operating on. Don’t ever change that recipe girl!
Love S (SnackBae)