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Bobosteke and Lara Bian: Of Witches & Nutrients

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Before I proceed, let me go the Isio way and state that I sincerely lay no claims to being knowledgeable or a professional in this field. The concerns set out are borne out of a disturbing observation as an ordinary Nigerian, and I hope that when I am done, it would be yours as well.

We live in an environment that is becoming cosmopolitan in its look and thinking. Nigeria is witnessing an unprecedented foray of foreign food business into the country. This cosmopolitanness has gradually moved into our kitchens and is now a fat heaving mass at the dinner table.

There is this deceptive thinking among Nigerians that we only start eating healthy at a certain age and at a certain time. Definitely not before 30, but any time from thereafter would suffice. It’s very common to hear people say such things as, “let me eat it now while I’m still young, before some doctor declares them bad for my health”. We can therefore conclude that there is an understanding, however subliminal, that some things we eat are not good for us.

Perhaps you might think that only people who are well off have the luxury of choosing their meals; that “na big man fit get time to choose wetin him wan chop; na anything wey dey hand poor man go chop”.

I ask you to take a look at the numbers of Iya Sikiras and fast food joints which have grown exponentially over the years. Considering that the classes of people who consume this differ, we can safely assume everyone has a choice, within their pocket limit –  and that less and less people eat home cooked meals.

Gone are the days when ‘mineral’ was just for special events and not something we celebrate every meal with. When I was much younger, good grades and well cleaned rooms or that special uncle’s visit were rewarded with well intentioned treats like Walls Ice cream, oyakaka, sprint chewing gum, gogo M&K, baba dudu etc. Now, school kids have chewing gums in their pencil cases and ice cream as mid-day snacks.

Look in the lunch pack of the average Nigerian child. Across Nigeria, whether it is the woman who has a well worn wrapper tied across a faded T-Shirt, with the words “adieu mama” faintly made out, her son trudging along her side; or the career mom who (or whose maid/cook) packs school lunch for the kids; they usually have one thing in common: the abundance of Bobo/Viju/Caprisone/biscuits/sweets etc. The food flask is almost the same thing: Indomie (which is the generic name for all things noodles). The only difference is when Mum 1 decides to stop instead at Iya Sikiras shop to buy rice N20:00, Beans N20:00, and one dead beat looking piece of meat (no pun intended). Mum 2 may add one piece of boiled egg and shred some carrots and green peas in them. Yet we interpret stunted growth as, “He looks like his uncle’s grandfather” and overweight kids as, “it means that I am feeding him well”.

It used to be that cravings were strictly for pregnant women. Now everyone has them; only that now, they are becoming substitutes for real food. Burgers, fries, hot dogs and strawberry yoghurt for breakfast; pizza and mineral/malt for lunch; Sharwarma and Shepe for dinner. Water is what we use to bathe.

More and more young people are being diagnosed with diseases that were rare; and if at all heard of, were for the old and frail. No more can diseases like diabetes, heart failure, stroke and some cancers be exclusively be referred to as “big man’s disease”. Everyone and anyone can have them now – thanks, I believe, to the fallen standard of our food and the choices we make on what and where to eat.

I am not here to advocate for any fancy salad dressing; nor am I pro-meat or anti-ice cream consumption. I am simply concerned that most of us are not concerned about where our meals come from, what we eat or the quality of the food themselves.

You may be dieting and still be malnourished, because your veggies may be lacking vital micronutrients. You may be having a balanced diet looking meal whose nutrients have been washed away by the hastened process of growth or over cooking. You may not care much about food as long as it’s edible, but at what cost?

This is to say nothing about the family bonding moments that have been taken from us. It used to be that the kitchen was where everyone gathered and talked about their day as they pitched in to help prepare dinner. The dining table was where morsels of food were stolen under the nose of unsuspecting persons; where son and father discussed their views of the world. That family of six, seated on a mat where everyone dipped into a big bowl of Eba as the atupa (oil lamp) stood guard to illuminate anyone whose hand moved too fast or made an ill- advised foray into the bowl of fish before papa took his first; where the meat on my rice was the tool of barter to ride my brother’s bike for the whole afternoon the following day. Now, we spend more time trying to look cool and outdo each other with our orders at fast food restaurants.

I believe we can raise kids who are not hooked on sugar and fast foods. I believe they can become adults who would make informed sensitive choices on what to eat, how to eat and where to eat for themselves, and the generation to come.

Let us eat healthy, let us eat right. The witches in the village have all died and no one is left to blame when a 36 year old man slumps to death because he works so hard and survives on take outs; or blame blood sucking demons when a pregnant woman looks weak and wan because she is anemic; or shout “Holy Ghost fire!” when a child faints in the playground, because his heart could not take one more burger.

Let us eat healthy; let us eat wise. Health is indeed wealth. Let us cherish it.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Monkey Business Images 

My name is Bobosteke and Lara Bian. I think I have commented enough on Bellanaija for you to know about me. I’ll leave the rest to your imaginations.

33 Comments

  1. yt

    February 15, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Great write up. All I’ve been saying…in our quest to raise tush kids these days many people end up raising brats.
    Some kids can’t even drink water because it’s not sweet and they have so much candies,drinks and cash at their disposal that they could throw a party.
    I happen to work in an upscale children’ clinic and I’ve seen all sorts. An 11yr old boy who weighs 115kg and is not a anywhere near stopping, his 8yr old brother now weighs 77kg because he sees eating as a competition between him and his brother. All these were brought to the attention of the 40yr old, slim, diet-obsessed mum and the question she asks is: really, is their weight too much???.
    These are kids who are so rude they can’t even greet, you can’t tell them to sit and they would obey, they all have well loaded ATM cards and can buy anything they wish, infact according to the nanny they drink coke 1st thing in the morning.
    Now, I’m wondering how they would turn out if they continue this way for the next 5yrs. Mum is being a chic while are kids are becoming obese!

    • Anon

      February 15, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      yt – I am not sure if it’s all in a quest to be posh. I think it’s got more to do with being ignorant/unaware of the contents of some of these drinks and food. A lot of parents don’t know fizzy drinks are not good for kids (and anyone really) because they are packed with calories. Plus those drinks are one of the causes of ADHD. Also, in a bid to spoil their kids some parents let them get away with everything.

      Another one is brushing their teeth. How many parents enforce brushing after eating chocs and junk food every time? How many parents use the correct toothbrush? It only takes about 5 minutes to brush a tot’s teeth. Yet, kids are so fearful of dentists. Avoid visiting the dentists by having very good oral hygiene ( for kids and parents alike.)

    • Nike

      February 15, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      Please this your argument does not hold water. Their Mum has been described as slim and diet-obsessed and you’re talking about ignorance of the contents of these foods. Why doesn’t the mother herself eat with reckless abandon?

      You should learn to take the message of this article as intended and know that the commenter is attacking the woman personally but her laissez faire attitude of raising her kids. I believe that parents of nowadays display a show of wealth in how tubby their kids are and the types of foreign snacks and junk food they are given to eat.

    • Blah blah

      February 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      I hope mommy is not a bellanaija reader.

    • mrs O.

      February 17, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      lol.. I hope she is! 115kg!!! that’s more than “twice” my weight and I’m more than ‘twice’ his age.. (and I freak out when the scale “increases my weight”.) They should better be checked now before the blame comes back to rest solely on ‘mommy’.
      Though I believe some parents spoil their kids with ‘too much’ to assuage their guilt of always working and not being there for the kids..unlike in ‘those days’ when we got to see mum and dad before going to bed. Economy lo fa! Poverty no good at all!

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      February 16, 2015 at 11:59 am

      As at 2007, the world consumed I billion cans of coke per day. I guess those kids add to the increasing number.

    • D

      February 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm

      So I don’t know what this woman feeds her child but at what age do we start making our children body conscious??? or making them believe that their weight in some way makes them better or worse. We have experienced first hand in the west how this affects the self esteem of kids, pushing kids into unhealthy habits and sometimes death. So in a bid to encourage people to be healthy, bashing kids because of their weight can also be detrimental i.e the way the message is sent out and how it is received matters. There needs to be a balance, why not encourage healthy habits instead of focusing on what the scale says about their weight and maybe then the mother in question would be open to taking your advise as opposed to making in appropriate statements about this mother and her kids. I would NOT listen to someone who comes across as this bitter about my own life and most people would not either even the 100+ people that liked your comment. We never want to get to a point in the name of being healthy where we begin to subject our kids to things that will not help them now or in the future. Now I am not trying to take away from the point the author is trying to make but how you went on and on about the woman and her kids, makes it appear that there is more to it than the issue of un healthy living. And if there isn’t I think you need to take a deep breath and really see if you are trying to help or just trying to pass thumb your nose at someone else you believe you are better than. Lastly, I have never understood our obsession with greetings. Really??? a child does not greet you ok…so what??? does the child make my day or some how affect my life by not saying a few words to me. We tend to focus on things we should not focus on. My parents were/are big on greeting outsiders not so much themselves but as an adult I have come to realise my ability to say good morning ma or sir or good night sir or ma, is nothing if I cannot genuinely respect does I am greeting and as opposed to popular Nigerian belief I don’t see greeting as a sign of respect as I have seen people greet others and in the same breath disrespected those they have greeted or even turned around and do the nose deal” I would rather raise my kids to be respectful of everyone they come across, from the cleaner, to the security at the gate, to the Engineer down the street and the iya silifa on the road side. A smile, a wave, a simple hello goes a long way, in making people go out of their way for you, treat all humans with fairness and the respect they deserve is what we should be focusing on NOT how we are greeted maybe then we will have less issues like the one raised about a week ago on how bosses maltreat their employees. I don’t need any child’s greeting to make or mar my day. Sorry for the rant but yt’s comment got to me.

  2. patsychy

    February 15, 2015 at 11:33 am

    Well done dear! U have spoken and written well.a word is enough for the wise.tanks dear for nudging us in de rightest direction(if dias any english word like dat).

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      February 16, 2015 at 11:55 am

      There is: You just added it!

  3. HLB

    February 15, 2015 at 11:37 am

    So true with all that have been said and done. Eating right is a way to stay healthy. This is 2015 and we should stop blaming witches for failed health.

  4. kiki

    February 15, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    Great write up

  5. mrs chidukane

    February 15, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    My problem is grandparents that believe they’re expert at raising kids and will never stick to your plan for your kids. Will not respect your parenting. You dare not talk cos as per Naija parents any complaint is insult. When you take your kids over to their home, do you make their meals in advance or trust that they will follow your healthy menu list?

  6. picking a new moniker

    February 15, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    It is at times like these I wish there was a like button for posts. I just discussed this with my sis few days back- the unhealthy like style of adults and even worse, kids.
    The article has covered it so I wouldn’t go over it again. On my part, I have taken a firm decision to lead a healthy life stlye

  7. zeenie

    February 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    this is a really great writeup… lol @ water is what we use to bathe. people (we) really need to make better life choices.

  8. www.thelmathinks.com

    February 15, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    “Wallis Ice cream, oyakaka, sprint chewing gum, gogo M&K, baba dudu “. Nostalgia!
    Yt your comment have me shivers. 115kg at 11years and mama is still asking if it’s “too much?”. You’re sure that woman is ok?

    • Anon

      February 15, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      There was goody goody before all those ones. There was also Big Dip. It depends on how old you are to know them.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      February 16, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Ha! Goody goody before Sprint, that one is disputable o.

      But I remember my mum saying she had goody goody when she was growing up that the packaging was just different.

  9. jennifer

    February 15, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Nice info thanks. # INDOMIE THE GENERIC NAME FOR NOODLES LOL# SEEMS YOU ARE A SCIENCE INCLINED.

  10. Ufuoma

    February 15, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Obesity and heart disease will soon replace communicable diseases as the major cause of death in nigeria,I shudder to think about where we are headed, we haven’t finishd fighting tuberculosis,malaria and HIV and now we want to start with this? All I can say is healthy parents rais healthy kids, my father has been exercising atleast three times a week since before I was born and at almost 70 he is free of diabetes,hypertension and other age related ailments. We need to do better and act better to protect our selves and our kids

  11. CommonSense

    February 15, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    100000% True, one of the best articles written here. And LOL @ the witches part.

  12. Chige

    February 15, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks for your write up. It’s Nigerians and our misplaced sense of ‘class’. Shouldn’t it be the rich persons child who is healthier because they can afford all the ‘good’ food like fruits,vegetables and the sort even if it means importing it??? But no,how do I show I have money,by buying pizza and ice cream everyday cos I can afford it.let not start looking for who to blame when the kids start having health issues cos knowing Nigerians if they don’t go down the spiritual route they haven’t started.

  13. banjo

    February 15, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Great up write up. I can’t shy away from giving a support.

  14. tunmi

    February 15, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Thank you for writing about this. No so e don reach?? PE classes nko, do we still have them? If the education sector makes it mandatory for students up to secondary school to have PE clases, then that is one way to help.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      February 17, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      PE classes? For which play ground? You ve never gone by all these Lagos Private school? where you wan do PE? Looool!

    • MC

      February 18, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      No PE lessons???
      shock horror!!!!

  15. Chinma Eke

    February 15, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Thumbs up for this article. Many parents need to read this.

  16. Carliforniabawlar

    February 15, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    I read this as I rolled in bed, too constipated and hung over (both food and alcohol induced) to get out…An international food bazaar, 3bottles of beer, a massive plate of jollof rice, a bowl of cereal and then a glass of wine will definitely make God instruct a wonderful lady to write a wonderful article on BN just to prick your conscience….Lord, I see what you’ve done here… I repent! Kinda…. 😛

  17. TA

    February 15, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    My dear Bobos & Lara B, missed you here.
    And thanks for the reminder on making good food choices. We can’t talk about this enough.

    • Bobosteke & Lara Bian

      February 16, 2015 at 10:48 am

      I see’s you girl….

  18. Cecilia

    February 15, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Good write up for the lazy mothers to sit up. Is common sight in Lagos where i live to see mothers park their cars and rush into fast food shops in the mornings to get snacks and soft drinks as lunch for their kids. I once told a young mother who was feeding her one year old with noodles that it has no food value. She smiled and said, it is not bad and ended the baby ‘s food with bobo. The way these foods and drinks are advertised are miss leading. Where the foods are projected as vitamin filled and the drinks as blood tonic. O God give Nigerians the knowledge to know the lies of manufactures and advertisers.

  19. Bobosteke & Lara Bian

    February 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

    “O God give Nigerians the knowledge to know the lies of manufactures and advertisers”

    I could write a whole book on this. But I would make my comment brief.

    Do you have any idea how much these companies pay to have A-list actors consume their products in movies? Sublimal messages are what they thrive on: A subtle suggestion to the mind. Your favorite romantic movie could have a long, deep kiss at the end under a Pepsi logo or your favorite character could always be munching on doughnuts and suddenly you find you have a lust for these things.

    It is not enough to sponsor music competitions, give us free T-Shirt, biros, cars, umbrellas, generators etc., which ultimately turn us unwittingly into your advertisers; or organize end of the year parties and have our favorite artistes come perform or donate pipe borne water to a community or tar the roads in some remote area. Thank you for these things but you are you are not giving back any less than what you get from us your consumers. In fact, because your products do not contain alcohol does not make it any less dangerous to our health. You thrive on our patronage; but only healthy people sustain the bottom line. You can be commercial and still care.
    #Drinkresponsiblywarningonsoftdrinks; #softdrinksarehardonyourhealth

    I

  20. Funkyw

    February 16, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    I believe laziness is the main cause of all these. Older generations ate healthier meals but with all the knowledge and electronic appliances that are supposed to make 21st century cooking far easier, many people are determined dig their own graves.

  21. ada

    February 17, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    Give us Oyakaka, we like oyakaka…. I like the taste e sweet for mouth. Oyakaka Oyakaka e good for chop. Now lemme go back to finish reading.

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