Destiny African Market provides cuisine from all over Africa to local community


Despite COVID-19 restrictions hindering business owners, Sola Ajao opened Destiny African Market in Randolph in November 2021. Photo courtesy of Adebukola Ajao.

Alleyna Pitaso, news correspondent

Destiny African Market in Randolph, is a family-run store owned by Sola Ajao. One of the only markets of its kind in the area, it sells authentic Afro-Caribbean cuisine to customers from all over Massachusetts. Imported from a variety of African countries, customers can find foods like cassava grain, dried fish and Sola Ajao’s own moin-moin, a West African bean cake. 

Destiny African first started over 20 years ago as a catering business. Sola Ajao said she wanted to fill the gap of local African food stores in her community. Her passion for cooking cultural foods for her community drove her desire to build an expansive African food network in the area. 

Despite COVID-19 restrictions hindering business owners, the brick-and-mortar location opened in November 2021.

“Despite the pandemic, I believe that God’s timing is always right,” Sola Ajao said.  “When I found this location I just knew it was the right thing to do, so I took the opportunity.”

After less than a year in business, the market has seen a steady stream of customers. The relationships she has made within the African community helped launch her success, with friends and family being some of her first customers. Customers — like 23-year-old Edosa Osemwegie, who is from Benin City, Nigeria — appreciate the authentic food, spices, fruits and snacks sold because they cannot easily find them anywhere else in Massachusetts.

“I went in one day and was blown away,” Osemwegie said. “It felt like I was seeing my childhood in Nigeria. I’ve been missing some delicacies and snacks that I haven’t been able to eat because I haven’t been back in years.”

While there are local restaurants that sell cultural meals, Destiny African is the only venue that emulates an environment of an authentic market in Africa, Sola Ajao said. Sola Ajao uses her importing license to get the freshest ingredients brought to her store.

“It’s very hard to find these things in this area, so I always try to get foods from different countries to sell to all types of people,” Sola Ajao said. “We don’t just sell African food; we also sell Caribbean foods because there is a big population of those people here. I want everyone to feel welcomed.”

Destiny African has a very strong and active social media presence. The market posts on its Instagram account multiple times a day and often interacts with customers on the platform. 

Sola Ajao’s daughter Adefikayo Ajao is the social media manager for the market. She writes captions and creates the content on the businesses Instagram. She has reached out to Instagram influencers and introduced them to the shop. In turn, the influencers share their reviews of the shop’s products. 

“They were really happy to do it,” Adefikayo Ajao said. “They all liked the food and made content promoting it on their social media. We saw an increase in followers every time one of these influencers would give us a shoutout on their page.”

Influencers, such as Sacha Eats, Chop Daily and Nigerian Foodie Hub have created content promoting the market’s food. Every day, customers come in after finding the market on social media. Their curiosity has led to an even larger community of people supporting Sola Ajao and her ventures. 

“I had heard about the market, but it wasn’t until I saw it on Instagram that I [became] more inclined to see what it was about. The store is very interactive and I really liked that. Now I tell everybody about it because I think everyone should know about it,” Osemwegie said.

Sola Ajao has her eyes set on the future and plans to expand her business as much as possible, she said. Her goals go beyond the market and moin-moin: She wants to open a restaurant and more stores to help connect more people in the community to her food. 

“I want to sell more of my own recipes and my ultimate goal is to open my own restaurant,” Sola Ajao said. “Cooking is my destiny, and it’s something I’ve been doing since I was very young. I want more people to eat my food and buy the products in my store.”

She has partnered with food brands, like Golden Tropics and OrchidLand, to shelve their products within her market. Sola Ajao believes that diversity within the store will attract more people and give them access to their cultural foods. In the future, she said, she wants to have her own food products sold on shelves of other markets, but she knows it will take some time for other businesses like hers to come to her community.

“Like I said before, I strongly believe in God’s timing and will,” Sola Ajao said.“Things in my life will happen when they happen, and I trust that he will guide my journey. I’m excited for what will happen next in my life, but for now I have a wonderful business.”