By ADEOLA ADEROUNMU, Since 2006

Posts tagged ‘food’

The Things We Took For Granted (Part 1)

When l was growing up in Nigeria l had no idea that one day I will be living in another country and eating meat and chicken that are produced in factories. I miss my poultry in Nigeria..!

The Things We Took For Granted (Part 1)

By Adeola Aderounmu

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As Africans we need to start appreciating the things we have in Africa especially nature’s endowment.  We also need to preserve our culture, our heritage and the true versions of our stories and pass them intact from one generation to the next.

There are so many things we took for granted in Africa. We still take them for granted on the home soil.

When l was a little boy in Nigeria, l had not doubt in my mind that all the food including fruits and vegetables were coming from nature and in natural ways. It is possible to write a book then about Feeding Without Fears in Nigeria.

I remember my involvements and experiences in farming as a school boy. We planted crops as part of practical Agricultural Science. We even tilled the soil and prepare them for cultivation. Groundnut was my favourite. There was no need to cultivate water leaf (spinach); it was growing everywhere-along the roadside, among the bushes and just about anywhere there is soil and moisture.

I remember the poultry l kept at the backyard. My love for the hens and cocks was for them to grow up and end up in my pot of soup on that famous kerosene stove. Some of these adventures must have helped in forming me. I have patience to see things through. I know how sweet the reward is for genuine labour.

In Nigeria we have everything that nature could provide for life in the tropical region. There is rainfall, and there is adequate sunshine. There is a clear demarcation for day and night.

We have all kinds of trees. We have mango trees, the coconut trees, the orange trees, the cocoa plant trees. We have the sugarcane plantations. We have cashew crops and so on.

Irrespective of where these crops are found, one didn’t have to worry about consuming them. It was unthinkable that certain chemicals inimical to human health were consumed with them. We were children, we felt safe.

The good stories about growing up in Nigeria are varied and marvellous.

Now in Europe and other parts of the advance world, it is very disturbing to note how unnatural the foods we eat are. It is extremely disturbing to walk into the stores and find all kinds of labels on the food items.

What is biological mango? What is ecological mango? What is fair trade banana? What is ordinary banana? What is ecological carrot?

Reading food labels and tags on fruits and vegetables is a way of life that emanated from outside Africa. It may be the beginning of fear or wisdom depending on your views about food and nutrition. In whichever case, it is not a pleasant trauma.

As a child, when l bought oranges at Agboju market or when l jumped and plucked Mama Tunji’s mango and ran away to eat it while hiding, l have no idea that one day l will be settling down to first read the labels before buying or eating fruits.

One day a friend who thought that she has found a new knowledge tried to explain to me the difference between ecological and biological fruits and vegetables. What an effort to make..!

In this part of the world we are in some deep troubles because people eat all kinds of things that they don’t even know where they are coming from. How can anyone trust the labels on fruits and vegetables in these days when people are fed pork and horse meat as beef? When meat and fruits are made by artificial methods, how can expiry dates be valid?

When l was growing up in Nigeria l had no idea that one day I will be living in another country and eating meat and chicken that are produced in factories. I miss my poultry! Where are all these fake and giant bananas coming from?

There is trouble here; we eat synthetic materials as food.

Some oranges are bigger than the human head. Some bananas are bigger than the African plantain. We are in trouble.

Fruits with labels? How Healthy are tey?

Fruits with labels? How Healthy are they?

For Africans, it is sad that many of these fake products and synthetic food items have crept into the continent.

In Nigeria l remember the influx of fake chicken and turkey into the Nigerian market. This year 2015 the Nigerian custom continues to fight the smuggling of the fake poultry products from neighbouring countries into Nigeria.

In Nigerian traffic especially in Lagos, everything is sold. The shiny green apples look purely synthesized. Sometimes you’ll think they have been taken for polishing at the shoemaker’s stall.

Nigeria has since become a consuming society and a dumping ground for all kinds of fake food products and dangerous medicines. The failure of governance and the systemic collapse of institutions in Nigeria left much to be desired.

There is no shame greater than the importation of food and crops that can be produced in Nigeria. It was totally senseless to relegate agriculture as the leading foreign income earner for regionally governed Nigeria.

The rulers of Nigeria are weak intellectually. They even import petroleum products! Their dumbness is exposed in their primitive accumulation while sacrificing the present and the future at the same time, all for nothing.

In Nigeria we took for granted all the free gifts of nature. Nigeria is a rich country in all ways and by all ways. Mr. Buhari can continue to misfire-calling Nigeria a poor country-because of his low intellectual capacity and inability to reason out the meaning of rich or blessed with.

The Nigerian climate is perfect for agricultural practises. The countries that have long winter season would probably stop synthesizing food items if they have such optimal climate.

I will not forget that eating fruits while growing up in Nigeria was devoid of looking for tags and labels. There was no doubt about the safety of the crops that my grandfather nurtured on his farmland in Igbogila. I had no doubt buying roasted plantain-boli at the roadside or oranges from the hawkers.

We ate healthy and unless we expose our skin to malaria parasites we hardly become ill. In comparison the reports of catching ordinary cold all year round in the advanced countries is amazingly high.

The present and upcoming generations of Nigerians must be told the true stories. There was trust in Nigeria in the past and there was dignity in labour. Sadly when things fell apart politically, everything else fell apart. The proportions of failure in Nigeria since 1966 especially are unimaginable. It is a sad story.

For Nigeria food production that will completely eliminate reliance on import and adulteration is still very possible. The potentials are still there and though the climate may have change, it is not significant enough to disrupt full blown back to the golden days of Nigeria.

The blueprints that allowed Nigeria to flourish under regional government up till the early 70s need to be reintroduced. It is getting clearer that the APC mandate is a fluke as Nigerian politicians remain hell bent on looting and destroying Nigeria because of the nonsensical unitary system that gives power to one man as if he is a dictator even under a democratic system.

How did the Old Western Region succeed with the regional farm settlement schemes alongside a world class education system? What made the groundnut pyramid in Northern Nigeria so high? Why was the East home to cassava, yam and other cash crops? The answers to these questions that will return Nigeria to her rightful position in cocoa export, oil-palm production, yam and groundnut export are political!

How we let go of healthy living in Nigeria is related to the collapse of the Agricultural sector and it happened due to bad governments. Living in places where natural food are now produced by synthetic methods or gene modification makes one to appreciate the continent of Africa that is blessed by Mother Nature.

In my part of Africa, the tropical zone of Sub-Saharan, nature smiled on us and provided optimally for our living. When we are ready, Mother Nature will still be waiting.

A deep-rooted and sincere reorientation of the citizens will be necessary to rid Nigerians of their affinity for food and things that are foreign. Those who indulge in illegal importation of food stuffs should spend long years behind bars. They are a risk to people’s health and also economic saboteurs for local/indigenous farmers.

The health of the citizenry is the wealth of the nation.

Repeatedly, a functional political method is an integral part of the solutions to all of the problems in Nigeria. This is where the burden falls back on the citizens. They have a collective right to fight the politicians and take back their functional regions and bring back the days before the civil war when there was abundance and prosperity.

It will be a long road to freedom.

aderounmu@gmail.com

Why Men Should Cook

Cooking can be a form of relaxation. It is surely art. A nation or a country can be built on well laid foundations that start from the family.

Why Men Should Cook

By Adeola Aderounmu

Time in the kitchen is time well spent

Time in the kitchen is time well spent

A nation or a country can be built on well laid foundations that start from the family. I have argued for parental leave for both mothers and fathers in Nigeria.

Unfortunately there has not been any progress in that area. The typical Nigerian life is driven by harsh economic realities and unpredictable socio-political circumstances.

In one of the most complicated situations in the world, the influence of culture and religion in Nigeria provide for a lot of arguments and discussions on the roles of men in different functional and complicated family situations.

All the men in my nuclear family are great cooks. How is that possible?

The credit goes to our mother who complemented our education effectively on the home front. In Western Nigerian secondary schools (during my time) boys are encouraged to choose Agricultural Science and the girls Home Economics.

As I recall now it seemed that the society also played a biased role in determining the roles of men and women. Therefore it appeared that unless the boys took great interest in cooking or their parents especially mothers taught them at home, they always ended up unable to cook.

Many are quick to emphasize that it is the role or even the “job” of women to cook. In traditional African settings that is largely true. The last statement can be expanded even as a topic for an academic dissertation based on the settings of the traditional African societies and the division of labor amongst the men, women and children.

It has always been imperative that women are able to cook, I may state.

My arguments in this essay are towards the men. I think that the men should be able to cook as much as the women. There are many examples of men who are better cook than their wives or the women in their lives.

These arguments are based on the realities of a changing world that cannot be locked up in the past.

Why should men cook? I will draw mostly from personal experiences.

Cooking as I have found out can be a form of relaxation. A wrong notion might be that a man needs a cold bottle of beer after a stressful day at work.

Cooking can relax the mind and body

Cooking can relax the mind and body

If your kitchen is tidy it is one of the best places to retire to after a hard day’s work. It is a place where you can either throw away your disappointments or show your happiness for the day.

Under any of these circumstances above there should be no hindrance to showing love and care to your children or to your visitors or friends depending on the company you keep after work.

Cooking is art. By systematically creating a piece of meal or a nice, tasty diet from essential raw materials, you might forget or relish about how the day has been and cherish the moment when your children, friends or family enjoy the products your serve to them.

A man should cook to ease the strain on the family.

The children should not suffer or eat junk food simply because their mother is working late one day a week. They should not bear the brunt of their mother visiting a friend during the week or attending a ceremony on Saturday.

If the man is at home, he should be able to stand up to the responsibility of keeping the family going and cooking should be the least of his worries.

There will always be situations when the man is alone with the children at home. That time should not be the time to put up the “I don’t care attitude”. It should not be the time to insult the mother of the children simply because she is held up with another activity.

Some men will never accept that they neglected the obligation of learning how to cook when they were growing up.

Men don’t cook in my family is an outdated expression. When I went to the university I always ate from mama-put is the outburst of a lazy mind. Wake up and look around you. Face the reality of your time and brace up for the era you live in!

Many students can cook despite the fact that they ate at Mama-put and other decent restaurant-which one is your own?

Cooking helps the women to appreciate and boast positively about their men. They feel a sense of gender equality without struggling to achieve it. In a functional family this can promote sexual attraction and help the family to stay psychologically healthy.

Pie: cooking is a form of art

Pie: cooking is a form of art

I do not mean that cooking prevent separation or divorce. It is just one of the ingredients that help as long as the relationship exists.

When both men and women take turns in the kitchen especially when the turns are not based on a schedule, it helps the children to understand that they are required to also take responsibilities for many things in their lives.

The act of pushing blames or looking for excuses start from the family and children learn too quickly from their immediate environment.

Cooking helps children to learn in diverse ways. Science, art, creativity and mathematics are all embodied into cooking.

In Nigeria I can recall that we learned how to cook using a lot of estimations in our judgments of what is required or needed.

Now when I cook sometimes with instructions and using units like “deciliter” or other measurements-I appreciate the level of my mother’s mathematics. It is almost unbelievable what our mothers did!

I know some men take to cooking as a hobby. This means that, by looking or by some sort of interest they just got going at cooking and found it easy and lovable.

I am sure this category of men have found cooking as a useful hobby at those times they are alone as bachelors or married men whose wives are away for certain reasons. They are able to step-up and take charge of the kitchen.

Turning this hobby into a responsibility will be useful on the long run.

From the foregoing, the ability to cook can also help men (and women) to live independently if they choose to be single.

In my family the time between the secondary school leaving year and the university admission year was reserved for intensive course in cooking with my mother. Invariably that was the time you take over the responsibility of cooking for the others in the family who are at home or getting back from work.

Long before that time, it was recommended to be an observer as mama dished out orisirisi from different pots on our stove that was powered by the kerosene.

Growing up in my family back in Nigeria, I know that both boys and girls have equal abilities in the kitchen. I mean a balance of culinary skills. What may vary is the creativity that we add as we went our separate ways.

The documentation of my days at Jaja and Mariere Halls of the University of Lagos cannot be complete without the flavor and aroma the boys in the halls added to the hostels every day.

Later on I met a friend (names withheld) who told me that he could hardly make a cup of tea. He was actually not joking that he cannot even fry an egg. He frequents my room at the College of Medicine in Idiaraba and I always try to show him how I cook. His case was hopeless. He is still my friend today.

When I have had visitors at our home in Stockholm, some people were unable to hide their shock as to the long time I spent in the kitchen. I cook and I tidy up after cooking. Then I tell them why men should cook and tidy up. I hope some women are not fighting their men based on my kitchen behavior.

I do not believe it is the role of women to always do the cooking or tidy up. My mother would chase me out of the kitchen if I start to cook when the kitchen is dirty. In some extreme cases that I remember, she will put out the fire from the stove and I have to take it from the beginning.

There is a time to add the salt and there is a time to slice the onions. No stones in the beans or you’ll eat all the beans yourself. The rice cannot stick together and the tomato sauce must be well fried. Oh Mamma!

Today I appreciate those teachings more than ever before. You will never see me in a dirty kitchen. I can get ill in a dirty kitchen and that is not an exaggeration. It is not a function of wealth but common sense and lessons about hygiene well taken from my mother.

In Nigeria, many families will probably be unable to synchronize their meal times but with proper planning breakfast and dinner at home should be a possibility. Depending on the weekend schedules, families should strive to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together.

People should stop giving excuses on why they cannot cook or eat with their family.

Like many other issues affecting the upbringing of children, many men will continue to blame it on “lack of time”.

There will never be enough time for what a man wants to do in his lifetime. The same is true for women. People should be taught how to manage their time using the family (spouse and children) as the starting point.

Parents should help their children to acquire cooking skills at home. Bring the children into a safe and tidy kitchen and show them how to cook.

It will be a long walk for the Nigerian society but it is achievable across all the regions if sensible and capable people take over control of the politics and the economy across all the various regions.

Nothing is impossible when there is a sincere roadmap that is not left in the hands of idiots and complete nonentities who are driven by selfish interests and absolute greed.

In Nigeria, it is imperative that the different regions are allowed to re-emerge.

There is a lot in the identities of each ethnic group that are submerged and lost in the name of unitary government that shows lack of respect to individuals and folk-group.

People should be allowed to tap into their cultural and traditional family values. They should be taught how to plan their homes appropriately with respect to family size and responsibilities.

It is time to lift the positive values within the family through regional adaptive education and merge them with the demands of a global village.

Properly educated children will build strong families and dependable communities. They will form the backbones of viable regions across Nigeria. The future can be bright and better.

My late mother’s teachings at home and an adaptive, undiluted education in Western Nigeria fit perfectly into a functional life at home and across the world.

MAY 29 2007-MAY 29 2008:Another Year Wasted!

Adeola Aderounmu.

It’s been one full year since an illegitimate government was installed or enthroned in Nigeria. One can easily be deceived that Nigeria is ungovernable because of the divergence of people, opinions, cultures, attitudes and size of the country. But Nigeria is not the only country that is diverse in such many ways.

What is missing and what has eluded Nigeria is sincerity of purpose on the parts of the political class and the useless military that have plunged the country since 1960. To this day, a typical Nigerian politician is a looter and an opportunist. All he or she is aspiring towards is self-betterment and personal enrichment. The other aspects of him/ her are deceit and pure hypocrisy.

Corruption remains the main thing in Nigeria-our biggest ailment. Politicians continue to loot and milk-away the country to dryness. They are never prosecuted and when they are prosecuted, they walk away with total freedom after a deceitful trial and bail session. Who is fooling who? All the ex and serving politicians who have stolen monies from the national treasury are still enjoying their loots while the rest of us suffer, just like that!

Millions of dollars continue to disappear from the treasury daily under shady and covered deals. Nothing is done to improve the standard of living in the country. What is the essence of the few flashes of magnificent buildings in Abuja when it is made only for a negligible part of the population? Those things in Abuja mean nothing and they serve no purpose to more than 90m people living below poverty line and surviving on less than 2 dollars a day.

Nigeria needs 100 000 MW of power but she is generating less than 1 000 MW. How can a sane mind explain this? One year after the illegitimate coming of Umaru Yar Adua, power supply has gone worse. Those who stole and mismanaged billions of dollars that were earmarked for electricity development in the past 8 years are living as freemen. What a country? Those kinds of people belong in life-time jail because their negligence has sent thousands to the grave beyond. Their ineptitudes have destroyed lives and homes. They have spread sadness in the land, and the sadness and darkness persist to this day-May 29 2008 and beyond.

In other aspects of our lives as Nigerians, we are on our own while the government continues to operate at a frequency that does not tally with the expectations of the masses. The governments in Nigeria do not care about the Nigerian people. The politicians are thieves in disguise. They lie to the people and they rigged their way into power. Imagine this very wicked gang led by Yar Adua asking the people to pay more for electricity which is not even available in the first place. Absolute nonsense and senselessness!

In Nigeria, nobody cares if you have water to drink or if you “hunger to death”. Nothing is plan and nothing is in focus. The hospitals are not functioning to optimum level. Even the illegitimate president goes to Germany for treatment of his own ailment. What a shameless man? Why didn’t he build any hospital in Katsina State when he was a governor FOR 8 WHOLE YEARS? Has anyone thought about that?

Housing is an issue that is not tabled in the Nigerian government agenda. I don’t remember the last time estates or residential areas were designed and executed in that country. It is up to you as an individual to loot somewhere and build your own house. Only very few people can work legitimately to achieve such noble dreams. Majority do it at the expense of other people who must suffer. Rare and Scanty Mortgage houses are up for the rich and mighty. Where is the hope of the common man?

This country Nigeria is known worldwide as a producer of oil. Yet in a very shameful way, Nigerians continues to import petroleum products for use in Nigeria. The refineries are not working at all or they are working inefficiently. All these years of talking and talking, these civilian and military idiots in power cannot do something to build new refineries or make the available ones work maximally/ optimally. How many shameful things and mad acts can one see in governance by these gangsters?

Really, hopelessness persists. Look at the network of roads. Highways are in terrible conditions and all tiers of governance are looking the other way. Nigerian roads are terribly, terribly bad and annoying. Expressways have become snail-ways. Rather than settle down to work, these senseless politicians go about jumping from one country to another. They move from one hotel to another and from one useless function to another. They don’t even know what they are doing. Absolute scalar quantities!

The Nigerian people too do not even know their rights at all. They are just doing follow-follow. Many political thieves are still waiting for their own opportunities to steal and loot directly and indirectly. In general, the lack of purposeful leadership and the presence of a powerless followership are rubbing this country of her greatness. What is left of Nigeria is individual’s will to succeed at any cost. If you take away self-will, there is no country left to call Nigeria.

How long shall we complain about all these ills before we begin to see remarkable changes that will touch the lives of more than the 140m people? How long before corrupt politicians are sentenced to prisons? When will thieves in political offices be shown the way out? When will violence stop and when will the votes be counted? How many more fuel pipeline explosions are we going to have this year?

Who will save our souls?

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