Born an African (woman) and raised within the shores of Africa, you are automatically taught how to make a home almost from the moment you begin to walk.
“Child, pick up that sweet wrapper and drop it in the dustbin. You are a girl, you must be tidy!”
“Eh you! Put your legs together jor, you no know say you be woman?”
“Girl, what are you doing in front of the TV with your brothers, don’t you know you’re going to become someone’s wife someday? Now, come join me in the kitchen!”
Ah yes, because learning how to cook is a vital part of making a home as a woman.
I remember that it was my dad who first taught me how to cook. I was an adolescent at home on holiday from the boarding school and my father had asked that I prepare rice and beans before he got back from work. I was very excited about being grown up enough to be asked to cook. See, I grew up as the baby of the house in a very large household. My only chores as a child were to rinse the plates washed by my cousin and sweep the compound. My youngest cousin, who is five years older, didn’t even like me rinsing the plates because it usually meant more work for her as I would play with the water until the whole kitchen floor was wet and she was always held responsible if it wasn’t properly mopped.
I left for boarding school in primary 4 which means there wasn’t enough time to practice my plate washing skills before been thrown into the boarding house. Cooking was definitely not something I had learned either. So, I was pumped about making rice and beans for my dad.
Now, I knew beans took longer to cook than rice, I just didn’t know how long. Let’s just say by the time I was done cooking, the food was inedible and we had to settle for something else.
“You don’t know how to cook?” My dad asked surprised.
“No sir, I don’t”.
“How come? Your mummy in Akure did not teach you?”
“Dad, I was the baby, and I didn’t stay long enough to learn before I left for secondary school”. I spat.
I’ve always had a sharp mouth, people 🙈.
“I see. This weekend, I’ll teach you. You are a woman, you must learn how to cook”.
That weekend saw me standing on a stool (I was too short for the gas cooker), posed with my notepad and a pen, jotting as my dad taught me how to make soups. My dad made sure we cooked different meals during that holiday so I could learn. It was a special bonding time between us.
When my dad took me back to school after the holiday, he told my proprietress he would like me to keep learning how to cook. She in turn handed me over to the school’s cook who showed me the ropes on some weekends. However, all these lessons weren’t enough. I almost destroyed my liver with overly salted foods and burnt offerings 😂.
Fast forward to my second year in University. My adopted sister, Lawunmi, who I was living with then, made her intention to live a longer life known by enrolling me in a catering school where I was to learn how to cook basic meals before I killed her with my badly cooked foods… Heheheee. I was a poster student; very enthusiastic about learning and practising what I learnt at home. Our fridge overflowed with different meals, and our neighbours sure grew fatter.
My Sweetest, as I called my adopted sister, made sure my culinary skills got sharpened. I even have my special recipe, ask Lamlad *wink*, but I didn’t enjoy cooking, at all.
Cooking is definitely not one of my favourite things to do. I’d rather wash the toilet (my absolute fave!), sweep and clean the house, arrange the wardrobe, and do laundry (Stars, I wash almost every morning) than get into the kitchen to whip up a meal. See, I’d even rather soak garri or stay hungry than cook. Yup! It’s that bad.
People ask me if I don’t cook in my father’s house. I do. I do because I don’t have a choice. Mumsy would guilt-trip the life out of me if I dare tell her I can’t prepare dinner because I don’t like to cook. I get away with it sometimes though.
And really, my folks are too African for me to even suggest ordering dinner for every member of my family. They’d ask whose birthday it was or what we’re celebrating. Besides, I’m not financially buoyant enough to be ordering dinner for my rather large family every night. But when it’s just me, myself and I, oh sweet baby Jesus, I would gladly go get me some pizza, dash into a restaurant, buy roadside foods, akara and bread, suya and garri, noodles and eggs, you just name it! Did I mention that I’ve not been in my kitchen in months? I even sold my gas cylinder and cooking pots a few months ago. Eish!
There’s a University of Amala a stone throw from my house. It’s one of the reasons I settled for my apartment; because I’m flanked by food vendors. What more could a girl ask for!
I remember speaking with a married man once and he told me I only say I don’t like to cook because I’m not yet married. According to him, marriage will change me and force me to start cooking for my husband, and children. See, I do not have a problem doing that. Actually, I do😒. It’s a main issue for me, and that’s why I’m working my butts off to make money. I’d cook for my family, it’s just not something I see myself doing all day, every day. Like what?! Shoot me already!
Cooking is not my thing, and I’m not going to apologise for that. Sign me up for toilet washing, and you’ll have you a happy girl! I’ve lost count of how many times my fellow Africans have told me I’ll lose my husband and wreck my marriage myself if I insist that I don’t like cooking. Woo, my dear, keni body ma nimi lara o, any man that allows himself to be ‘snatched’ by another woman because of food is a born fool,as my mother would say.
What happened to ordering 10-15 bowls of different delicious soups, storing them up in the refrigerator and heating them up when needed? Isn’t that why we buy refrigerator in the first place, for preservation? And if we (my husband and I) want freshly made food daily, why not empower someone who enjoys cooking by giving them the job. How will some other persons survive anyway if we choose to do every single thing ourselves when we can afford to outsource them.
Oh, I’m careful not to make this sound like a feminist post, because it is not. I am not. I just genuinely do not like cooking. And I know that’s outrightly outrageous for me to say considering that I’m an African (woman) but it is what it is, I DON’T LIKE COOKING.
Hey, Star! This is the second episode of the blog chain series I started with Valentine Writes. Remember, you can also be a part of this “I’m African but…” blog chain.
All you have to do is to creatively write on anything you are expected to know how to do or be as an African but you can’t do, don’t like to do or you simply are not. After which, you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com, and we will share on our platforms and yours, of course.