I learned about indigenous African foods only when all of my american imports failed to grow. All of my squash succumbed to mildew and insects, but I noticed that my elderly neighbor had indigenoud mystery squash growing abundantly on her fence. I had to mine those seeds and that knowledge from the elders in the village. Changing over to indigenous food crops transformed the farm into a productive successful project. There are still half a dozen things I dont have an English name for. Some studies done in Nairobi a few years ago showed that only 17% of urban Kenyans ate indigenous greens, and the main reasons were availability and not knowing how to prepare them. (And of that 17% the most common greens eaten were cowpeas and pumpkin leaves, not much variety there.). In my experience in rural areas it has been more than lack of knowledge but a strong prejudice against those foods which are regarded as poverty foods or "old peoples food.". They are insulted if you serve it to them. I had an american friend who was staying with a Kenyan man, and I offered to bring her " omurere" (Jews mallow) to try. Her man friend turned to my husband and said (in Luhya, not knowing I understood.) "I dont want that sh*t in my house.". And that man friend was overweight and suffered from bleeding ulcers thanks to his rich, western diet.
I have no idea how to overcome that mind set. Just this week I had to chase a local lady out of my garden who thought she was doing me a favor by "weeding" out all of the amaranth between the rows. She was incredulous that I had scattered that seed there on purpose. And this was a poor lady in her sixties who surely knew that "mchicha" was a nutritious veggie. She also didn't like my system of growing between the rows. She complained that it was messy and unsightly. She is planting collards on her side, with fertilizers and insecticides.
Maureen AtsaliI wrote: In my experience in rural areas it has been more than lack of knowledge but a strong prejudice against those foods which are regarded as poverty foods or "old peoples food.". They are insulted if you serve it to them. .......I have no idea how to overcome that mind set.
Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed
Courage to change that which can be changed
And the wisdom to know the one from the other.
Location: Western Kenya
posted 2 years ago
That's it R Jay. I am thankful that I was able to learn as much as I did when I lived in the village, and now my kids and I enjoy a wide variety of healthful, easy to grow food. Can't force anything on any one. At least people aren't as likely to steal my indigenous goodies and even the chickens aren't so thrilled with them 😁. But I keep hoping it will catch on. (With people, not the chickens.)
Wrong Way Farm - Kenya
There's no place like 127.0.0.1. But I'll always remember this tiny ad:
Greenhouse of the Future ebook - now free for a while