[dropcap]G[/dropcap]rowing up, we didn’t have a lot of family meal times. My father worked in a different city and would visit every other weekend and we would have bfast together but as we got older, mum would serve him his meals first and we had to wait for him to finish before we got the table. I remember mum sitting by him sometimes making small talks, laughing at his tales while he ate and I used to tell myself that things would be different if I ever had a family of my own.
Then I became a strappling young woman and decided husbands and babies were for sissies and damsels in distress. Then my third nephew was born and my views changed. I babysat him and realised I wanted kids. Then I started thinking about finding a perfect donor. Long story!
Anyways, I was always fascinated by interracial marriages and wondered how they lived with different cultures and I often imagined it was a blissfully chaotic experience but then I met a few women married to Caucasians and they would regale you with tales of how their men found Nigerian food disgusting, how they never cook or eat African delicacies except at a restaurant, at a friend’s place or when their husbands were not present and this I didn’t quite agree with.
I once asked an old friend’s husband who i met while in school why he never ate Nigerian soup and his response was that there was too much going on inside the pot. Stockfisch (okporoko ) dry fish, meat, kpomo, nfi, spices, various veggies usw and I thought that was a completely ignorant reply and quite a popular one too but I didn’t push. That’s how she began living with him and it’s not my place to change his mind about making an effort to try tasting every single nigerian meal his wife cooks.
Then I had a babysitting stint with a Nigerian single mum who told me her kids hated her naija food and she never cooked it for them cos her ex didn’t like it and made her not to feed it to the kids. One time I was making my all time famous coconut rice and used crayfish which for me is the magical ingredient for this meal and the older kid comes into the kitchen, his fingers holding his nostrils tight with his eyes saying I was cooking crap. I gave him serious warning over using derogatory words and expressions in regards to food which was half his heritage.
When I met Gorgeousness, I never thought about his views on African meals because I assumed he would at least make the effort to taste whatever I cooked. When I make egusi soup, he turns the yam powder, we fry akara, puffpuff, buns, ekpang, we eat beans and yam pottage. Hell, he tried ijebu garri for the first time and digs it. Errrm, he still needs to work on his boozing skills cos it swells like hell and you know how we dey drink am! There are skills involved man! Haha
We went on a ship for a typical German lunch and the two ladies with us nearly passed out when he reminded me that we needed to visit the afro shop for some dry fish! Yeah, I seem to have nigerianized him.
Anyway, my post is in no way meant to disrespect any relationship but when you marry someone from a different culture, you shouldn’t try to suppress it or make it less important than yours. Marriage isn’t just about love, its about respect too and not just respect for her but respect for her entire existence.
Before you married a Nigerian woman, you must have understood that she would come with history, with a totally different life. Mesh that with yours and it should be magical, it should be adventurous, it should be a good difference in the life you once knew. Mixed coupling sure comes with a lot of drama from both sides and the world but that shouldn’t be the reason you don’t enjoy every second of it.
She leaves what she knows and makes a home with you regardless of the fact that life outside Nigeria is a new and different experience. The least you can do is make the effort. Life shouldn’t be about baked beans, T bone Steak and a cup of coffee or rotkohl, Knödel and Sauerkraut. Relax, have some moimoi, enjoy the classic plate of jollof rice, find out why afang or egusi has all the oritsiritsi inside (don’t ask me ….It’s the way it has always been!) as you either chew or swallow garri or pounded yam.
It bothers me that some Nigerian women take pride in declaring their mixed family’s disgust for Nigerian food and that they make no effort to do anything about it. For me I see it like they are exhibiting eternal gratitude to the men for pulling them away from a not so glam life, a life of NEPA wahala and all the drama that comes from not being able to provide the basic amenities as a single girl. It’s probably not so but what excuse do you have for hiding away your culture in a small shell with no labels, what reason have you got for not teaching your kids about your heritage, your very existence, the cultural differences between both families?
Food blogs like dooney and 9ja foodie are changing the way the world sees Nigerian cuisine. Why not tap into that? It’s not the answer to world domination or racial discrimination. It may not even be a solution to the very idea of educating mixed race kids still trying to figure out who they are and where they belong about the different cultures that lives within them. But it’s who you are, what you grew up with. Why change that to make your Caucasian husband happy? For me, it’s a total disrespect to the struggles your parents went thru to raise you. Like I said, no judgement here, just my opinion.