Nsenene is the local name for the longhorn grasshopper, whose scientific name is Ruspolia differens (Serville). This soft grass hopper, sometimes called ‘flying prones’ by its lovers, plays an important role as a food source in Bukoba and Uganda. It is consumed both in rural and urban areas and exported as far as the USA, Europe and Asia. It is actually a cashcrop and sold at an exorbitant price – a kilo of fried or smoked Nsenene can set you back USD$50!
These insects come in swarms in the months of April and from November to December following heavy rains. The month of November is known by this insects name (Omusenene) in Bukoba. Nsenene was highly respected, and 40 years ago women were not allowed to eat it despite the fact that they had to labour for hours catching and preparing it for their husbands, fathers and other male relatives! Slowly with the wake of women’s liberation they were allowed to eat nsenene but not in front of men! These days this taboo has died a natural death, although old people still find it ‘not right’ that women should not to try to hide eating it!
These delicious insects in the past were captured by searching grass stems in the open grasslands or in the dry leaves of banana trees around the home. They are very docile at night and can be caught easily, but once it is daylight they fly around and are extremely difficult to catch. Today, with technology, the insects are captured using very bright lights and smoke set out at night to blind them.
Nsenene is a Bukoba delicacy which also has a high nutritional value, so you must try it when you visit our home town at this time of year!