‘Where does the meat, the soup & the Eba go to?’
‘Na inside belle’ I answered.
‘So does it matter in what order or shape they go as long as they end up in the stomach?’.
It was logical reasoning. Akin had noticed how I twitched my face as I watched him eat his Eba with Okro soup in the same bowl.
Worse of all, he wasn’t even turning the Eba into balls. It was a bit disgusting to me, I was in shock, deep culture shock.
I grew up & lived all my life up to when I was about 25 years within a particular culture in Nigeria. We put our Eba & soup in different bowls. We also carefully formed the Eba into exquisite balls before making an indent and using it to scope to soup into the mouth to savor whatever delicacy it is we are indulging in. And here was a man who poured the Eba & soup in the same bowl! And generally mixed the thing together. It was only Bingo the dog that we fed like that! This is unbearable to watch.
Akin snapped me back to reality with his clear solid voice ‘No matter how sweet smelling & delicious your food is to you, there would be some people that it displeases or even disgusts. True or false?’
I agreed. I hear that the northerners do not like the leafy & seafood soups of the southerners. How would someone not like Afang, and Mini-wiri – the fisherman’s soup?
But the lessons sank in: Your culture is not the best, learn to tolerate others, they are tolerating you as well.
How you do your thing may look simple & elegant to you but to others, it may be convoluted and complicated. I used to think that my name is simple, just 4 syllabi in all – Kem-ka We-li, until I met people who couldn’t pronounce it & who told me it is complex & mouthy. How can they compare my simple name to M-wel-f-wang or Z-win-gi-na, those are the mouthful & not mine or Asitongha or Chimamma. But that is what it is, it may seem ok & easy for you because it is yours, but to other people, it is exactly what you think of theirs that they think of yours.
Remember we are in this boat together, your experiences no matter how vast is still limited especially when you recognize that you do not know it all, and neither can you see & understand it from all possible perspectives. Let’s be humble & realize that what others have is equally important & valuable to them & how primitive you see them may be exactly how they see you or worse & in truth, they may be better than you on many counts.
So let Akin eat his Eba and soup as he wishes, & let the so-called strange, complex cuisines, names & culture be. Always remember that what you consider exotic and sophisticated may be considered primitive to others.