I have this rare talent that few people are aware of: I can find food, virtually ANYWHERE I go. Doesn’t matter where. Drop me in the remotest village in Ethiopia and I will find something to eat. I will find it in the rain and I will find it in the sun.
A while back we had delved deep (and many hours) into the remotest and poorest part of Grand Kru in Liberia, checking how our work was changing lives.
The 3 other guys in the car said we would not be able to find anything to eat until we got back to Harper city in the evening. I refused to believe that. Sometimes God puts you in the same car with a few Thomases to test you. I knew we would find a place. And it’s not like I looked into a magic horn like a Nigerian ezenwa and saw food. It’s simple: wherever people are still alive, there is food. The quantity or quality may be an issue but it’s food anyway.
As we drove through a village called Sopropoo I finally saw what looked like a ka-ntemba and I asked the driver to stop the car. It was drizzling, and so all the naysayers refused to get out of the car. “We won’t get soaked for nothing,” they whined, as I jumped out of the car to check if there was food being sold.
That kiosk was run by a diminutive of a woman called Kadi. She had a baby strapped on her back as she fried chapatis from a three-stone. I envied her. The baby, not the mother. Imagine growing up, being socialized through the aroma of chapati?
We can’t choose how others see us. But we can choose where we look
I asked Kadi, ” da how many chapati you ge here?” That is the Liberian English version of “how many chapatis do you have here?” She said eight.
I bought everything because I have a “leave no chapati behind” policy. They were hot, smelled heavenly and were so anorexic they couldn’t block sunlight. But we, food lovers, don’t judge our food on size and weight. We accept our food for what it is: thin, fat, brown, white, small, shapeless…all food is equal in the eyes of its maker. And in our eyes.
Back in the car, the smell of the chapatis tormented every nose and the pessimists, with drooling appetites, now wanted to “taste.” I shared, 2 chapatis each, because we, food lovers, are also entrusted with the important responsibility of recruiting others into our club. Plus, we share because there is no joy greater than watching your detractors swallow both their pride and your food at the same time. I won.
Which finally brings me to the main point of this post. Recently Zambia won a match and qualified to the quarter finals, despite the slurring comment of “a country ravaged by HIV/AIDS and poverty” from the commentator. I don’t know the context in which that remark was made. But we won because our eyes were on the ball, not on HIV/AIDS or poverty. Our boys didn’t go onto that pitch wondering if they will find a cure for AIDS or formula to eradicate poverty. They went there believing a win was possible. To some, we went into that game as underdogs. But we played like champions. We can’t choose how others see us. But we can choose where we look. In this case, at the ball.
By P. Sikana