The kola nut is a staple in Senegal, an integral part of both social and economic life. During the last few weeks however, bad harvests in the Western African producer countries, such as Nigeria, the Ivory Coast and Guinea, have led to a severe shortage and have prompted economic inflation and social crisis.The bitter tasting nut contains caffeine and acts as a stimulant and anti depressive, chewed all day by many men who want to maintain their strength. It is also important in aiding digestion and easing hunger pangs. Famed for its aphrodisiac powers, it is a cheaper alternative to Viagra and ever present at wedding ceremonies: the marriage can often only be sanctioned after the groom has offered 10kg of the nuts to his fiancé's family. Kola nuts are also used by the marabout, religious healers who perform divinatory rituals for the superstitious people.As the scarcity of the nut impacts daily life, the prices have soared. Wholesalers now charge US$120 for a 50kg sack, compared to around US$33 prior to the crisis. Imports have plummeted and with the nuts impossible to find, many fear that the important social rituals surrounding the kola nut are becoming threatened.