Food in Africa is such a hot topic, with over 150’000 Google searches per month. Are we in trouble, or do we have enough food in Africa? Here is some refreshing insight from the grassroots of REAL Africa…
There is a saying in Zambia that goes like this: “Chakudya sicicepa. Chimene cicepepa nicovala.” Translating this into English, we get the following…
While it is normal that a person cannot share their jacket with another, because it could be too small for the other person to wear, the same does not apply to food. A portion of food can never be too small that it cannot be shared.
In the book, My Life My Africa, I share a snippet from my journal, when I first arrived in The Valley of eastern province, Zambia. I was an infant in this new African culture I discovered, with so many experiences to process, as my westernised mindset was unraveled and challenged into a wider understanding of humanity. Here’s a paraphrased and edited version of that snippet…
“Today I am walking along and I hear, “Philen, we are eating!” And I’m like, what the fuck does that mean? So I look over and wave and smile and realise that I don’t have a clue who the people are or why they’re telling me that they’re eating, so I continue walking. But then this kid calls out again, “Philen! We are eating. Come.”
I walk over and as I arrive this girl comes out from the hut and brings me a bowl of water to wash my hands in, space is made for me on the mat to sit, and I join these strangers and begin eating their very simple meal of nsima and delele (maize ‘pap’ and boiled okra in a tomato and onion sauce). And while we eat, I ask questions and then I am enlightened about ‘the Zambian way’ – and it rattles my brain with its simplicity and truth.”
And this has been one of the greatest lessons I have learned along my Journey; it is only in REAL African culture that I have seen a complete stranger walk into another person’s home, seat themselves at the table and join in the meal that has been prepared by the home-dwellers. And all this, without the bat of an eyelid from anyone. Completely normal.
The deeply ingrained worldview of a REAL African is that food is a gift from the Earth that does not belong to anyone, therefore it must be shared, without question or prejudice. If a stranger visits your land and leaves hungry, this is a memory they will carry with them and which they will share with others, as they talk of their time in your land. For a REAL African, this is something to be deeply ashamed of. Deeply, deeply ashamed… for yourself, your culture, your parents, ancestors and God. For another human being to go without food, when you have some for yourself, is such an abomination that one does not even consider the idea. It is simply not wired into the DNA of a REAL African.
How did I live for five years in the 24th poorest nation in the world, when I ran out of money after my fourth month?
How do Africans keep the smile on their faces, in the midst of all their suffering?
This story continues, as part of a series at www.mylifemyafrica.org
About the Post Author:
An author, adventurer, social entrepreneur and change agent, born and bred in Southern Africa, who has traveled across 5 continents, in search of Love, Freedom and True Community.
I am a firm and stern supporter of promoting and preserving the local culture of Africa, respecting the people of the land, open to learning from them, rather than imposing my westernized thinking on them.
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