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Mama Z's African Supermarket adds to growing int'l flavor in OKC

Bill O'Brien / Red Dirt Report
Malik Azees.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Biographies and film documentaries about the career of Bill Clinton usually include a reference to his participation in an annual Boys State event in Arkansas when he was a teenager and his subsequent selection to be one of the attendees at that event who went to Washington D.C. to meet with then-President John F. Kennedy at the White House.

A photo of a seemingly awestruck young Bill Clinton shaking hands with Kennedy is usually included as well. His attendance at that event and his meeting with JFK are said to be responsible in part for Clinton’s later entrance into public life.

And visitors to the recently opened “Mama Z’s African Supermarket” on 3619 N Portland Avenue in Oklahoma City are often greeted by a handsome young man, Malik Azees, who is wearing a “Oklahoma Boys State” tee shirt who explains that he just returned from that annual event that is sponsored by the American Legion to encourage leadership in promising high school students.

The Azees family emigrated to Oklahoma from Nigeria several years ago, and the younger Azees, who is a honors student at Dove Science Academy, reported that his parents, Olawale and Rahamat Azees believe that there is a market for an African food store in Oklahoma City.

Their establishment features several large freezers with signs that indicate that they are filled with either chicken, fish or beef as well as big bags containing elubo, which is a yam flour popular in west Africa. Some of the fish sold have already been roasted and seasoned and only need to be warmed up to be eaten. Crawfish of the type that is popular in Louisiana and apparently Africa as well can be purchased there as well. The produce that is available there includes large yams and plantains that are similar to bananas and garlic of the type that is often found in Mediterranean markets.

Mama Z's African Supermarker at 3619 N. Portland Ave. in Oklahoma City. (Bill O'Brien / Red Dirt Report)

Cassava flour is offered in containers as is palm oil in various colors, palm nuts, custard powder and powdered yams.

A sampling of the yams sold at Mama Z's African Supermarket. (Bill O'Brien / Red Dirt Report)

Thirsty travelers in South Africa are often offered soft drinks that include non-alcoholic ginger beer and malt beverages, and Mama Z’s offers them to the thirsty in a variety of brands and sizes.

Visitors to the small stores and markets that cater to the Oklahoma City areas Hispanic immigrants often find that those places several tables where patrons can eat items listed on small menus, and a recent history of the city of New Orleans culinary history explained that many of the Italian eateries there began as small retail stores that were gradually transformed into restaurants. According to the younger Azees, his parents envision a somewhat similar evolution for their place, with the fare offered being prepared by Rahamat Azees from her family’s recipes with the assistance of her children.

Since both of his parents are continuing to work their day jobs, Malik Azees, said he and his brother Ridwan Azees, who will be a third year Pre-med major at OU in the Fall, and his sister, Rodiyat Azees, who is a student at UCO in Edmond, will be mainly responsible for running the store during the summer months.

The personable and friendly young man said that he enjoyed being part of Oklahoma’s Boys State event, but does not think that it had the same effect on him as Clinton’s participation in the Arkansas Boys State had on the future president. But it is possible that Clinton himself may not have known immediately after returning home from it how transformational that event was for him.

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About the Author

Bill O'Brien

Bill O'Brien is an attorney based in Oklahoma City.

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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