On the toxic values African parents imbue in their children about religious holiday food

Addressing the issue of giving and throwing away

Words by Ehimenim Agweh

This article is an holiday special in honour of the Muslim Eid-el Fitri celebrations.

Hands up if you’ve ever felt victimised by the sight of your mother throwing juicy looking Sallah meat. Do I have a no? A yes? A maybe? That’s better. Personally, I have because that piece of meat looks like the stuff good dreams are made of. But seriously, why is it that for some of us, the Sallah meat never sees the light of day?

Those of us from Christian families have had to experience our Muslim friends and neighbours deliver their goodwill during Sallah in form of a goody pack loaded with jollof rice and crowned with a well fried piece of meat. We might have been there even when the meat was on the fire and our eyes, noses and stomach had to wait like the ten virgins for the food to be delivered to us.

But what happens when the meat comes? Two options: either it is eaten or it is thrown away. Both options are decided and executed by our mothers whose word over the Sallah meat is law. For those of us who got to share in the bounty, oh the joy we felt. We were the champs as we wrestled the flesh into submission. But for the other half of us, oh well. It was ‘Thank you’ and ‘Off you go.’ That meat was entering the dustbin, rice included. But why did it have to end up there?

Many times we attribute it to the difference in belief as there are muslims who grew up in homes where food from Christian holiday celebrations like Christmas and Easter have been given the same treatment. Usually, many African parents are skeptical because the celebration is a to a God they do not worship. Some of us have even been trained to never eat the meat, wherever we are, regardless of our relationship to the person gifting it to us. Other times, it’s just plain suspicion. Our mothers aren’t sure how the meat was killed, cooked or anything thing at all. So they just risk it and throw it out all the while thanking the neighbours. Might sound shady but, it is the truth a lot of us have to live with.

Anyway, as Sallah rolls around this weekend, let us take some time to contemplate what we are going to do as the Sallah ram arrives. Let’s not be hasty and rush to the bin. In a country like Nigeria’s with a multitude of cultural values and belief systems, toxic values based on suspicion and difference of faith will only further divide the nation along lines of socio-ethnic differences. We need to do better than our parents; there is no greater sign of tolerance than sharing, even better, accepting what is shared based on intent instead of unfounded stereotypes.

Feature Image Credit: Nairaland Forum

A journalist by training, Ehimenim is a lover of history, good books and Game of Thrones. For her, the real world is just another Westeros and everyone is a supporting character. Read and repeat is her motto. Give her a wave on Twitter @EAgweh.

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