Sunday January 19 2014

I shall be eating grass

By Jan Ajwang

It was a long walk in the malls. My Nigerian friend and I had been up and about and I just needed to sit down and grab something to eat. So I asked her if we could stop by one fast food place and get a snack.

She gave me the ‘are- you-crazy- look’ and said. ‘I can’t eat grass when I have a lot of real food back in the house,’. I had my laugh because she went on and spoke to me about how a burger and chips aren’t really food and you know it is just a waste of money to buy them, when you are still going to return home and still crave your African food.

I just never stopped laughing at the reference to grass because it reminded me of the much anticipated lunch I once turned up for only to be given a hot dog which I had to fix for myself anyway. That was grass because indeed when I returned to the house, I sat to a long meal of vengeance.

The same vengeance got me walking a long stretch of City Road one of Cardiff’s busiest roads looking for ‘posho’ or ugali. I combed the streets and unfortunately, it was out of stock as it often gets

Later, a friend showed me where to find matooke! I was so excited like I had met a long lost friend, peeled it with shivering hands and ate it with even more shivering. It is always the best meal ever! Until you do the maths. One very candid Ugandan friend did the maths for me and it turned out I had spent quite a fortune to be Ugandan.

On the other hand, grass is readily available, affordable and if you can’t buy ready grass, you can make it yourself, and have it on the go.
Ironically, back home I sat down to burgers and pizzas and hot dogs with ease and some of them were as pricey as matooke this side.
It got me thinking about how far we can go holding on to things back home, failing to adjust to the new environments. Who are we doing these things for?