#BlackHistoryEats / Day 10 / Watermelon

Source: www.theafricanway.com

Source: www.theafricanway.com


  • Watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris) was first cultivated in the Sudan and then later passed through Egypt. It spread to the United States by way of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.
  • Interestingly enough, Africa is not currently the biggest producer of watermelon anymore. Some of the most prominent countries are the US (watermelon is the most produced melon in the US), Mexico and Turkey.
  • It goes without saying, watermelon has been used as a racist icon against Black Americans in the United States (even though white folks eat more watermelon that Black folks). For years it has been used to falsely depict Black people both as simple and lazy, even though our enslaved Africans are the ones that both brought watermelon to the US and grew it on plantations (not to mention literally built the US economy)
  • This article details some fascinating history regarding watermelon really being a symbol of self-determination for freed Black folks.
  • There are more than 50 varieties of watermelon; some are very small, some are yellow, some are very sweet, and some are bitter


  • Watermelon has historically been grown in places that were very hot and dry. Africans (both on the continent and the US) brilliantly grew and enjoyed watermelon because it is more than 90% water. 
  • Watermelon is also a great source of vitamin C and contains other important B complex vitamins and minerals
  • In terms of plant secondary compounds, watermelon is one of the best sources of the amino acid citrulline as well as the antioxidant lycopene (which many associate with tomatoes and other red fruits)


  • Some types of watermelon are only grown for their seeds. In Senegal, Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, watermelon seeds are sold in the markets 
  • Many people dry and roast them and some even pound the seeds into a paste and incorporated in baked goods
  • In the Yoruba tradition (Nigeria) watermelon seeds are fermented to produce an ogiri (food flavoring)