The Kola nut is quite important in Malian society, and is popular throughout West Africa. Elders seems to love Kola nuts. Giving Kola nuts to Elders is done as a gift and a sign of respect. If you want to go into the more remote villages in Mali, especially say in the Land of Dogons, you'll need to stock up on some Kola nuts so you can give them out as you travel.
The Kola nut has a rather bitter flavor. When trying to eat it, I found it tasted better when it wasn't in my mouth at all. Besides their bitter taste, they also contain caffeine. Not only that, but they're also used as a flavoring ingredient in beverages, and is the original source of the word "cola."
Just to play Captain Obvious a bit and really connect the dots, back in the 1800s, when John Pemberton created the first cola soft drink, he used extracts of kola to help flavor the drink that would go on to become Coca-Cola. Nowadays, Kola nuts are no longer used in Coca-Cola, but pretty cool to see where it came from.