Photo: The youthful Kakamega senator Cleo Malala has distanced himself from the purported warning to writer Silas Nyanchwani.
By Onyinkwa Onyakundi
Whether i read it as a Bantu, or as a Kisii, or as a Man, i find the unfortunate post that Silas Gisiora Nyanchwani has done disparaging Ugali to be callous, offensive and insensitive, click here to READ what he wrote about Ugali. Among the extremely unsavoury things he has written about ‘Enche’ include such outright insults as ‘bland’, ‘useless’, ‘tasteless’ and ‘a terrible mistake’ for which Bantus need to apologise to Africa. The guy even states that Ugali tastes worse than his shoelaces! I’ll not get personal and remind him where Ugali picked him from, and where it has brought him to, but to appease all those he offended, he needs to do one of those ‘this far, God has brought me’ posts, replacing the name ‘God’, with ‘Ugali’.
But its taste isn’t the only issue. Instead of having Ugali with Beef, he seems to have beef with Ugali for a different reason. He says it cannot be improved. And that is the point at which i recalled the worst Ugali that has ever landed on my palate. Back in India, a Cooking Stick a.k.a ‘Mwiko’ ~ ‘Omogango’ in my mouth ~ was one of the most precious items you’d ever own. Its importance was often only fully appreciated when even with another ‘Mwiko’ as the prototype to copy, and Indian Carpenter would almost always come up with a small Cricket bat, not fit for purpose.
That tells you that the ‘African Cake’ they saw us eat three times a day was alien to Indians. But not totally, because they had a dish that came dangerously close to Ugali, but somehow got ‘lost in translation’ somewhere along the way. Actually, from the very onset because first into the Sufuria would be the Cooking Oil, which would be followed by the Onions which on turning brownish, would be followed by tomatoes, in pretty much the same manner that you prepare stews or curries. Next they would add water to the mixture and bring it to a boil before adding the Flour and kneading it until it attained the normal texture of Ugali.
Now, being served a mountain of that with no vegetables, meat or any other accompaniments, and being expected to eat it all up in a Cultural setting where declining food offered by one’s host is considered extremely rude is the exact situation i found myself in on the only occasion my entire life that i have ever eaten just a single bolus of Ugali. I politely declined, took a corner, found a tap and washed my mouth thoroughly. And so yes, Mr. Nyanchwani, there is room for ‘improving’ Ugali, but to what end? The English say, ‘if it ain’t broken, why fix it?’
Meanwhile, a section of youth in Kakamega have warned the good journalist from ever setting foot in Kakamega, he must withdraw and apologise first for the offence comment on Ugali.