Our beloved Asha

Mama Asha Cafe is a family run cafe in the heart of what has unofficially been dubbed “Little Mogadishu”, due to the many Somali owned businesses and shops in the area.

Located on 118 Ave also known historically as Alberta Avenue, the cafe opened in May 2017.  The cafe was named after my beloved grandmother Asha, whom over the years many have come to call “Mama Asha”.

When I took over the space in 2016, I was trying to simulate what the vibe of a typical cafe in Mogadishu would be like. I wanted to create a space where people could gather, bridging the gap between the new generation of Afro-Canadians and the elder members of the East African diaspora by sharing our traditional foods, customs and history amongst each other and with our Canadian friends, neighbours and patrons.

Back home in Somalia, after the Asr Prayer and before the Maghreb prayer, people would gather and have a cup of Shaah or Qahwa; along with a plate of traditional sweets and savoury bites. This was called “Asariyah” which essentially was our version of Afternoon Tea.

Inspired by my travels to cities like London, Cairo and recently Nairobi, the idea of winding down a work day with some tea and bites really resonated with me and I wanted to share this with others.

Mama Asha Cafe has now turned into a staple within the Edmonton Somali community. My vision turned into reality, a place where you can catch up with friends over lunch, host a meeting, or spend time enjoying a family dinner.

Saharla Aden