We named our Ginger Beer after Nomoli tribal figurines, the bearers of good health, this zingy ginger beer is inspired by a traditional Sierra Leonean recipe. We’ve bottled it with our own interpretation, of course.

Nomoli figurines in Sierra Leone

Nomoli figurines are stone sculptures found in an area centered in southern Sierra Leone. These ‘nomoli’, as they are usually called, were made and used in the area where they are found, rather than having been imported. It is believed that these figurines were made by the groups of peoples called ‘Sapes’ by the early explorers of the region. This is partially confirmed by the fact that features of these people at the time of the first contacts seem to correlate with features found on nomoli.

Originally intended as ancestor figures, these stone statuettes are used by some of the modern inhabitants of Sierra Leone as ‘swearing’ devices and to help increase agricultural yields.  The ‘monstrous’ appearance of many of the nomoli might be due to their being carved as representations of krifi or of heads of secret societies.

As to their dating, stylistic relationships between some of the nomoli and some of the ancestral figures in the Sudan, along with an apparent influence from that area dated about the seventh or eight century A.D., might mean that they were first manufactured at that time.

Nomoli tribal figurines were thought to be bearers of good health, and they have often have a color very similar to our beloved root ginger, used for making Sierra Leonean fiery ginger beer.

The health benefits of ginger


Ginger root has a range of health benefits, including improving digestion, blood sugar levels, and harmful cholesterol levels.

Its official name is Zingiber officinale. The rhizome, more commonly known as the root, is what you are likely familiar with. The root is spicy and peppery in flavor, with loads of medicinal properties. It’s used all over the world in culinary and clinical applications—both for good reason.

Ginger has been called a super food time and again, but what makes it so powerful?

This root has the following superpowers.

Stimulating digestion

Ginger can support almost everything regarding digestive health. Functional dyspepsia is the clinical term used to describe upper abdominal discomfort like acid reflux that is thought to be related to slowing of the digestive system. Ginger has been shown to help these issues.

Ginger helps increase the body’s ability to empty food from the stomach more quickly—known as gastric emptying. With this increased motility in the digestive system, it’s less likely that heartburn or indigestion will occur. In fact, one study of healthy participants showed that taking ginger capsules (1200 mg) with a meal stimulates digestion so much that gastric emptying speed was doubled! Imagine the relief that would come from food leaving your stomach twice as quickly.

The more efficient your digestion is, the more energy you will have because researchers have found that approximately 60 percent of your body’s energy goes to metabolism. If ginger can improve digestion, your metabolism will improve and energy will be more available. This is possible because the quicker you can digest your food, the faster you will absorb the vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat. You will also have less undigested food in your digestive tract; food consumes energy when left undigested. So not only does ginger stimulate digestion by improving symptoms of dyspepsia and speeding gastric emptying, but it also benefits your overall energy levels.

Lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure (known as hypertension) is a common symptom of the standard western diet, which is high in processed foods. When hypertension is left untreated it can lead to damage to your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. Doctors frequently prescribe blood pressure medications to their patients, but what if you could reduce your blood pressure naturally?

Ginger has been shown to improve blood pressure (in conjunction with medication) by acting as a vasodilator—it expands your blood vessels. This is helpful for increasing circulation in the body, which reduces the overall blood pressure throughout the body. Ginger also contains potassium, a mineral that research has found can help lower blood pressure.

Reduces Nausea

Nausea is no fun. Whether it’s from motion sickness, morning sickness, post-surgery effects, chemotherapy, or pregnancy, nausea is not an experience anyone wants. And when you do experience an upset stomach, you’d give anything to make it end! Enter ginger.  Ginger has been shown to be an effective remedy for nausea related to pregnancy and chemotherapy.

Ginger has also been found to reduce the amount of nausea you might otherwise experience when feeling seasick. After surgeries, it’s common for some people to experience nausea and vomiting. The good news is that researchers have found ginger to be an “effective means for reducing postoperative nausea and vomiting.”

Not only does ginger provide relief from post-surgery nausea, it can also help cancer patients. In a study of both adults and children undergoing chemotherapy treatments, ginger was found to be effective in providing relief from the nausea that accompanies those treatments. Based on the scientific evidence, ginger is definitely worth a try when you’re experiencing nausea of any kind.

Reduces inflammation

Inflammation occurs naturally even in healthy individuals. It’s a natural and healthy response to protect the body from injuries or sickness. However, when inflammation is excessive or chronic, it can be very damaging. In fact, researchers have found that chronic inflammation is at the root of many common diseases such as heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.

The active constituents in raw ginger—gingerol, shogaol, and paradol—are responsible for many of the natural anti-inflammatory effects that ginger provides. Ginger has been shown to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (small proteins released by cells to communicate with other cells in the body). Pro-inflammatory cytokines are responsible for the upregulation of inflammatory reactions, meaning that these reactions happen more often in the body. This is directly related to increased inflammation in the body. Since ginger has been shown to reduce the levels of inflammation that those pro-inflammatory cytokines can produce, it’s only natural that inflammation will decrease, too. This is a big deal! Because inflammation can run so rampant in the body—especially with a poor diet—ginger is a great way to help reduce the overall amount of inflammation in the body. If you’re experiencing an inflammatory condition, ginger is a natural and powerful anti-inflammatory remedy to try.

Antibacterial properties

If you aren’t convinced of the medicinal properties of ginger yet, you will be now!  Researcher have found that ginger is an effective antibacterial for many drug-resistant bacteria in clinical applications. In their study, the researchers stated that “ginger has great potential in the treatment of many microbial diseases such as Bacillus and E. coli.” The antibacterial benefits don’t stop there. In oral health, two types of ginger have been shown to inhibit the growth of pathogens that contribute to periodontitis (inflammation of the gums that is caused by gum bacteria). The antibacterial properties that ginger possesses show that food truly is medicine.

Reduces menstrual pain

Many women know how debilitating menstrual pain can be. There are over-the-counter pain medications dedicated to this specific pain, but ginger may also provide relief.  One study found that ginger is as effective as ibuprofen in reducing the pain associated with dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) in women. Menstrual cramps in the abdomen and lower back are common in dysmenorrhea. That’s great news for women! Next time you experience cramping during your menstrual cycle, give our Nomoli ginger beer a try.

Positively affects cholesterol levels

As stated earlier, ginger is helpful in reducing blood pressure, but it’s also beneficial for cholesterol levels. Ginger has been found to reduce cholesterol levels—specifically reducing low-density lipoproteins (LDL).  “LDL cholesterol is called ’bad’ cholesterol. Think of it as less desirable or even lousy cholesterol, because it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries.” That fatty buildup is known as  atherosclerosis and it, it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

How can you incorporate ginger into your daily routine?

You can purchase a box of 3 or 6 from our shop.


Cookery and Art.

Great food, like all art, enhances and reflects a communities vitality, growth and solidarity.

Art is too important not to share, and here at Shwen Shwen we love meeting other creatives within the diaspora that share our passion for elevating culture, connecting people and making a difference through what we do.  We love connecting and collaborating with other creatives, but especially the obsessive ones, the detail orientated ones, the ones who say do it right or not at all.

Moreover, Black History Month is almost upon us, which provides a fantastic opportunity for us to recognize the outstanding contributions people of African and Caribbean descent have made in the United Kingdom and we are especially proud of our, oh so lovely, incredibly talented, Salone titi, Ayesha Feisal.

In conversation with Ayesha Feisal

Ayesha Feisal is a British/Sierra Leonean visual artist. Her work draws from the study of behaviour and the mind, using the human form to explore the psyche.  She is influenced by an interest in consciousness, universal law, balance and truth.  Choosing to portray characters with elevated mindsets, who move beyond the impact of circumstance, environment and social condition, her works are also a response to events and situations.

Just like Maria and Shwen Shwen, she’s influenced by her Sierra Leonean heritage.

In conversation we asked her about this, and she said “My Sierra Leonean heritage and culture has no doubt had an influence on my work. I was surrounded by creativity growing up and self reliance (or a ‘do it yourself’ attitude) was always encouraged. All the girls in our family knew how to braid and style hair, from the ages of 9 we would create intricate styles and fix each others hair. My mother who was a nurse by profession could create any style you wanted, whether it was fashioned with thread or hair extensions so there was no need for hairdressers, aunties and the like would come to us young girls to get their hair braided, weaved or styled. My mother also sewed and would make clothing and soft furnishings. She taught this skill to my younger  sister who to this day creates clothing (she is also a qualified ceramicist)”.

Food can be expressive and therefore, food can be art.  More broadly, African culture is enriched by the arts which can be defined as the theory, human application and physical expression of creativity found in human cultures and societies through skills and imagination in order to produce objects, environments and experiences.  The Arts include visual arts (including architecture, ceramics, drawing, film-making, painting, photography, and sculpting), literary arts (including fiction, drama, poetry, and prose), performing arts (including dance, music, and theatre), and culinary arts (including cooking, chocolate making and wine-making).

We asked Ayesha about the impact of Sierra Leonean culture on her childhood, and she replied:

“We were expected to learn how to cook and great pride was taken in the ability to create meals for the family. Cooking for parties and occasions were a bonding experience and I have fond memories of  me and my siblings in the kitchen with the huge calabash bowls, catering size ‘auntie pots’ as we used to call them preparing the food with our favourite music playing in the background”.

“Creativity was also present throughout our house. Artifacts that were not just aesthetically pleasing, but were of significance and held cultural value. Fabrics that were not only striking but served a purpose in identifying we were connected. I used to love (and still do) designing and sketching out my ‘Aso Ebi’ outfits, as a youngster, mine would always be the ‘alternative’ non traditional style, another way to express myself”.

When thinking about how art and culture enhance our communities, Ayesha said “Africa has long been cutting edge, it’s only more recently that the world lens is focused on Africa through popular culture, such as music and fashion etc that many are getting used to (and accepting) the idea of African’s as innovators”.

Thank you so much Ayesha Feisal.

Visual Artist | Member – Black British Female Artist Collective (B.B.F.A)

Keep doing what you do… Keep holding it down for our Sweet Salone.

Please do check out her website. 


Who Said

Maria Bradford Kitchen has re-branded and we are proud to launch Shwen Shwen.

We’re thrilled to unveil our refreshed brand identity. This demonstrates the evolution and progress of Maria Bradford Kitchen since its conception in 2017.  While this is a significant change, our core beliefs haven’t changed.  We are still hell bent on inspiring, elevating culture, connecting people, and making a difference through food.  Over the last few months, we have poured our hearts and souls into creating a new image that would accurately depict what Maria Bradford Kitchen is about.  It’s purpose!

The inspiration behind this re-brand lies in how Maria styles her food, the fine ingredients and exquisite flavours she draws on, but it’s much more than that.

Since opening her kitchen in 2017, Maria has cooked Afro-fusion food inspired by her Sierra Leonean heritage.  Africa is the final frontier of food and a continent that is rich in resources, with untapped agricultural potential.  Maria is gathering a new breed of explorers.  Foodies!  

Foodies, willing to pay a fair price for precious resources, genuinely interested in African culture and traditions. They seek new ingredients, new flavours, and see value in techniques that have been forgotten. This new generation are keen to expand their horizons and understand the perspective of those on the other side of the frontier.  This new breed of explorers will take nothing but memories, and leave only an enduring positive social and economic footprint.  

This is about people and food.

It is about connecting people through food. 

Why Shwen Shwen?

Many people have described Maria Bradford’s as fancy.  Shwen Shwen is a phrase used in her native Krio meaning ‘fancy’ and many of her fellow Sierra Leonean’s have said to Maria “dis na Shwen Shwen it”. At Shwen Shwen we source high quality producers, create stunning dishes, offer new experiences and serve them to people with a refined interest in food. 

If you desire something fresh, vibrant, exotic and flavoursome then join us.  We intend to put Afro-fusion cuisine and traditional Sierra Leonean dishes on the map.  In doing so we are going to have a lot of fun on the way, but this is also about creating a platform on which others can build. We are keen to connect with African producers, suppliers and more broadly other creatives within the diaspora that share our passion for elevating culture, connecting people and making a difference through what we do.   

Connect with us!

  • We are fancy – We are sophisticated and critically acclaimed.
  • We are cultured – We are proud of ours and respectful of others.
  • We are citizens – We stand against inequalities and imagine a better world.
  • We are not what you expect – We are changing perceptions one meal at a time.

In the spirit of connection and if you enjoy social media, please connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook.   We’d love to hear from you.

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