Origin of African Black Soap

Posted on June 18th 2015 by Joanne Joseph No Comments

The name black soap is translated ‘Ose’ (soap) ‘dudu’ (black) in the yoruba language of Nigeria, Togo and Benin Republic. African Black Soap originated with the yoruba people of Nigeria, Togo and Benin Republic. Original African Black soap making began in pre colonial yorubaland with the ingredients consisting of the ashes of plantain skin, water, cocoa pod powder, palm oil and Shea tree bark. This recipe has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations amongst yoruba women in Nigeria, Togo, Benin. African black soap originated in Nigeria and was taught to women of other countries in West Africa.

Nigerians and the Nigerian community of Benin and Togo who traded pepper and tomatoes introduced Ose Dudu (African Black Soap) to Ghana and today a different version of the soap is sold extensively around the world. Although such soap is effective it does not contain the traditional recipe of African Black Soap from its place of origin.

In Ghana African black soap is called ‘Anago samina’. The word ‘Anago’ is the name of a yoruba sub group in the Republic of Benin.  African Black Soap is also called ‘alata samina’.  The word ‘alata’ is a yoruba word that means ‘spicy’ and ‘samina’ which means soap is a Ghanaian word of the twi dialect belonging to the Akan language.

Yoruba Nigerian women who introduced African Black Soap to Ghanaians whilst trading  peppers were called  ‘Alatas’ (pepper traders) and Alata samina was the term used to refer to the pepper traders who sold soap to many in Ghana. The soap became known as the ‘pepper trader’s soap’ (alata samina).

In order that yoruba women pepper traders live and sell in Ghana they were to teach Ghanaian women how to make the popular soap. This was accepted the Yoruba women traders and ghanaian women who wanted to make and trade the effective African Black Soap.

Today there are a variety of African Black Soap recipes which include palm kernel oil, Shea butter, coconut oil and honey. Traditional African Black soap is still being handcrafted by village women in yorubaland and yorubaland communities in West Africa.  The ingredients used to make the soap are not the same today as the soap is now made in the different regions of West Africa. However traditional African Black Soap from yorubaland contains the original formulation. It’s method of production is still the age old processing method used in making the soap.

The country of origination of African Black Soap is yorubaland Nigeria and today yoruba women are still handcrafting African Black Soap in villages in Nigeria and Yoruba communities in West Africa.

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