Stories of Africa — Foood by Samuel Ogeda
I recently had a discussion with a few students of mine about the motivations for why people go for funerals in the village. My students said that a lot of times people attend one’s funeral not because they really liked or cared about you but because there’s going to be a meal.
And depending on the budget of the organizers, they might be food like rice or meat which is not usually prepared in certain parts of northern Uganda, and most times is only prepared on Christmas day.
On the last funeral I attended, they were a couple of serving stations. But still when it came time to serve food, a fight broke out.
That event in the village turned into pure chaos. I and my uncle decided to wait till we got back to the hotel to have a meal.
This is very different from places like Europe where a lot of times people will wait their time in line before getting served.
Some have remarked that even at high profile events with enough food for all, us African’s try to cut in line, or at times we overload our plates, and yet one can serve moderately and go for a second helping.
African hospitality is also a tricky thing at the same time. Whenever I travel upcountry, we are given food at whatever house and home we visit, and it’s not a snack, it’s a food meal of sweet potatoes, yams, maize floor, chicken, beans, and vegetables.
One Christmas holiday when I was a little overweight with a protruding stomach, we were given a heavy meal almost everywhere we went. The paradox about African hospitality is if you decline to eat a meal presented to you in the rural areas, it is taken as an offence.
It’s not really African hospitality if the rural people can’t take a rejection of the food they have worked for so long to prepare. As I’ve grown older, and now at my age of 37, when we go to visit our relatives, my dad sometimes calls ahead and tells them not to prepare much, or not to prepare anything at all.
We have evolved to the point where the villagers know that our relationship is not based on them giving us food, but it goes beyond that.
Another thing that bugs me at times about food from different places around the country is how the food is prepared. I remember once, we visited a certain clan member called Peter, he served us food, and we began to eat, until it came time to taste the meat that was prepared.
It looked like a small bird that still had it’s feathers on. I tried biting into the meat, but the moment it hit my tongue, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to swallow it. I spat it gently into my right hand and dropped it on the dirt floor beside my right foot. We were under the cover of the stars.
My dad was seated next to me and I whispered to him that I couldn’t eat the meat, he told me to leave it alone. Luckily we were under the cover of pitch black darkness and our host wasn’t at the table when that incident happened.
For the most part I’ve enjoyed the foods I’ve eaten and the quality of cooking from different places I’ve visited in Uganda. If someone asked me what my favorite Ugandan food is, I’d probably say Malewa (Bamboo Shoots) common in areas like Mbale.