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Vibrant Afro Caribbean market opens its doors in Kamloops

Enoch Dugbatey is one of the owner's of Dede Afro Caribbean Market. He sells spices used in traditional Ghanaian food.
Enoch Dugbatey is one of the owner's of Dede Afro Caribbean Market. He sells spices used in traditional Ghanaian food.

A Kamloops couple is infusing their neighbourhood with Ghanaian culture, offering a wide variety of authentic food and beauty supplies mostly sourced from their home country. 

Dede Afro Caribbean Market opened up earlier this month. The market is named after the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Dede.

“We are excited to introduce people to different spices and traditional recipes,” co-owner Enoch Dugbatey said.

The store is tucked in tightly between other shops at 542 Tranquille Road, made noticeable by a bright facade and creative window art.

Inside there is something uniquely African to see around every corner, from spices and baking supplies, to meats and fish, to fashionable hair extensions and flowing outfits.

It has taken Enoch and his wife Matilda a couple of years, and a leap of faith, to make their dream come true.

The idea for the business was sparked by Enoch’s sister, who came to Kamloops to study at Thompson Rivers University. The couple was living in Calgary at the time when his sister came up with the idea after seeing a niche that needed to be filled.

“I hadn’t heard about Kamloops until four years ago when my sister-in-law came here to study and she was always complaining she had to drive to Vancouver to buy African foods,” Enoch said.

The pair took a leap of faith and moved to the tournament capital to start the family business.

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Their first attempt was opening a market and a restaurant at a location on West Victoria Street two years ago, but it wasn’t the right fit.

“Most of our customer base were Nigerians and we couldn’t cook authentic food because we are not from Nigeria,” Enoch said. “So we subleased it to a Nigerian who now runs the restaurant there, called Tobilicious.

The whole time we operated silently hoping to make a move to open a Ghanaian market. The space became available and we took it.”

Co-owner of Dede Afro Caribbean Market in Kamloops, Enoch Dubgatey holding up a hake fish.
Co-owner of Dede Afro Caribbean Market in Kamloops, Enoch Dubgatey holding up a hake fish.

The pair have been hard at work on the project since the beginning of June of this year.

The biggest and most costly challenge has been bringing in supplies from Ghana or a Ghanaian wholesale store in Toronto. Meats are sourced from the Lower Mainland.

“For some reason most of the time the delivery companies leave my pallets in Kelowna or Vancouver,” Enoch said. “It is very frustrating. I have to pay a local delivery company to go pick it up.”

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Enoch said he loves showing customers various ethnic food products and sharing recipes with them.

“One of my favourite products is Mexican Tahin spice,” he said. “We use it a lot in Ghana and it’s amazing for everything. You can dip slices of fruit or vegetables in it, it makes every food taste better. You can cook some corn, put some mayonnaise on it and add the spice.”

He sells baking goods like cornmeal and cassava flour brought in from Ghana, along with a variety of traditional snacks. His favourite snack is peanuts, but he knows them by a different name.

“These are the most delicious, roasted peanuts,” he said, holding up a small package. “They call them burgers back in Ghana. This is what a burger is, we call it peanut burger.”

At the back of the market is a stand-up freezer full of fish and a deep freezer full of goat meat, beef, oxtails and other frozen parts like beef hooves.

“In Ghana we eat a lot of fish,” he said. “We sell a lot of catfish, mackerel and hake. Hake is my best selling fish here.

“My customers love goat meat. I grew up in a poor family and only the rich got to eat goat, it is a special dish there. In Africa we don’t waste anything, we eat all parts of the animal, even the skin of a cow.”

Enoch brings in mature beef and chicken meat that is tougher and can better sustain traditional African cooking where dishes typically take over an hour to cook.

He said he is looking forward to operating the business and interacting with the community, and he is grateful for the opportunity.

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