Last Saturday I went for my colleague’s wedding. I am still trying to make the best of my Luganda by speaking it as much as I can. On our way back from the weddo, I wanted to say how good I thought it was, so I asked my other colleagues for the Luganda word for ‘wedding’. Somebody said ‘Embaga’, which could also translate into ‘Party’. Thought that was cool. Didn’t realize there is no difference between’ wedding’ and ‘marriage’ in Kikuyu (uhiki), though older people refer to it as 'home'. Not home as in house, but home as in family e.g. the home of PKW’s parents is nice/difficult. I take that to mean marriage is all inclusive, not just between 2 people. Not so cool. The Kikuyu word for a (married) woman is Mutumia. Directly translated, it means ‘the one who shuts up’. A (married) man is called a Muthuuri, from the verb guthuura (to choose). I once thought that was cool because it meant the man had chosen the woman. But I can’t tell you how many weddings I have attended in the village and hear this advice: Muthuuri etagwo muthuuri ni guthurania maundu, nake mutumia etwagwo mutumia ni gutumiria maundu (Loosely: a man is called a man because he chooses between different things, and woman is so called because she shuts things up within herself when issues arise). Not cool at all.
Oh, there is one more phenomenon as far as weddings go over here. People have what is called a kiwani wedding. A fake wedding. As, in ome people do actually fake weddings when they want to raise money, not get married. Look what happened to Straka, a local TV presenter.
On the other hand, marriage is called Obufumbo in Luganda. Directly translated to English by me, that comes to something like ‘the cookery’, or ‘the place of cooking’. I’ll stick with the first since the names of most places or to be more specific, regions, start with Bu e.g. Buganda for the Baganda people, Busoga, Bunyoro, Bukonzo and (as learnt on Tuesday) Buddu,etc. A Buddu post might see the light of day someday.
The verb that Obufumbo comes from is okufumba ; to cook. Small wonder there is such variety when it comes to food over here. On a regular day, for lunch, I have the following choices: matooke, posho/kaunga (ugali), ebinjanjaro (beans), binyebwa (groundnut paste), mucheele (rice), olumonde (ngwaci), Irish potatoes, kyenyanja (fish), kaawo (I probably made that up-cow peas), enyama y’e mbuzi/nte/enkoko (goat/cow/chicken meat), juni (arrow root), nsuju (pumpkin), muwogo (cassava) and assorted greens and fruits. Depending on the area, that costs between UGX 2500 (Ksh 100-USD 1.5) and UGX 8,500. A lot of the time I pack my lunch.
Did I mention earlier that chips and chicken is not food, but a snack? Try walking into a restaurant one fine Sunday afternoon and ordering what’s on the menu. Chances are you’ll be told “we don’t cook food on Sundays, we have snacks only”. On further inquiry, you realize the said snacks are chips and chicken. I think that’s food enough for a regular Nairobian to eat Monday to Friday. And you wonder why the Kenyan man goes on and on about the beauty of the Ugandan woman. One told me that beauty is a package.
Onto okufumba. You may know that matooke is the staple food in Uganda, which probably explains why they are the only net exporter of maize in the region. Maize is not even grown with much zeal. Making matooke is not as straightforward as I thought: peeling bananas, putting them into water, bringing to a boil and mashing with a cooking stick once soft. No, that would make the matooke whitish, and it would also harden when you get it off the fire. Instead you do it as follows:
1) Peel the bananas, leaving them whole
2) Look for a piece of banana stem, cut it into pieces small enough to fit into a sauce pan (if a town dweller, you won’t get access to banana stems, but are likely to buy a bunch of matooke. Use the middle part, where the bananas get attached)
3) Pour water into the sauce pan
4) Put two large pieces of banana fibre (if in town, buy) onto the banana stems, making a cross.
5) Put banana leaves(have to buy if town dweller) onto the banana fibre
6) Carefully arrange the peeled bananas into the banana leaves, making them into a round shape
7) Steam for the appropriate time (~45 minutes). If you need more water, make space between the sauce pan and the banana fibre and pour it, using a cooking stick to ensure it does not come into direct contact with the bananas.
8) When cooked, knead with your bare hands.
9) Once ready, serve (along with rice/muwogo, juni etc) with groundnut paste, and/or meat beans, fish etc greens. Kneel when serving your husband.
I thought you may need to be leaving work at 3pm if you have to cook matooke like that everyday. Some people make Ugali in a similar manner, taking up a couple hours to make it properly. Apparently, if you have a big sauce pan, you could make all the different dishes in separate bundles of banana leaf wrappings and bring them all out at the same time.I mean, matooke, meat/fish, rice etc in one sufuria without mixing them. Meat made in banana leaves is called Luwoombo. It’s an art, I tell you. How does a Kenyan mama compete in such a market when your expertise is making ugali in 15-30 minutes and pushing the week? Doesn’t that also make it unviable to commercially produce matooke flour? At least for the Ugandans, it does. Kisiis, the Kenyan matooke experts, would probably buy it.
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