Cassava

Cassava

It took me out of town when I desperately needed something to help me escape the cacophony of an expose. ‘Bankye, bankyee, Baankyee; Bankye, bankyee, Baankyee; Bankye wɔde wɔ fufu, Baankyee, Bankye wɔde yɛ gari, Baankyee; Baankye, baankyee konkonte eee bankye.’ It was one of those primary school songs our teachers taught us for whatever reason and use.

You hardly know the meaning behind songs when you are that young. For example, even today, I struggle to make meaning out of the song: ‘Mo nhwɛ agyinamoa adanta (loin cloth), mo nhwɛ okusie adanta, mo nhwɛ agyinamoa danta, Agyinamoa awia nam. Agyinamoaa rema good morning, na okusie nso ɔgye so sɛ thank you, thank you.’ Next time I meet any of my classmates, I would check with them if they would remember whatever sense the song makes.

Maybe even the teachers who taught them didn’t. And maybe they still don’t. They could be teaching because they were taught. For the original composer arranger, she or he could have been musing around and had no idea her or his work will become a hit with teachers and the ones they teach. Or maybe a hit with teachers who choose to teach it to their hapless captive children.

When it came to washing and ironing our school uniforms, cassava, processed into starch came in handy. Teachers will inspect the uniforms Monday mornings and award marks. No creases; and the starch helped to deal with that. Starch ironed made the wear and its wearer shine, both girls and boys in their uniforms.

Interestingly, no one taught me a song about the other foodstuff items that were staples in my infanthood. No song about mankani, bɔɔdeɛ, aburo, bayerɛ. Why a bankye song, maybe I will get to know. For now, though, I am as clueless as congresspeople and their onaapo running the motherland’s economy.

Healthy cassava (boiled, fried, steamed) means filled stomachs that make eaters of fufu, including the cassava only type which I first saw in Fanteland. My mother’s cocoyam fufu though, had no cassava. That was common in Bonoland in those days. If you ate it as processed into gari, you had fasted in the days of no meal during mourning of a close relative.  That was typical Akanland practice. Cassava as a meal comes also as agbeli kaakro and banku. I suspect Nzema atsɛkɛ is another cassava meal.

You won’t believe the lengths ogyakromians in Agegeland went with their ingenuity to use gari as substitute for boiled fresh bankye for mixing to pound together with plantain or cocoyam to prepare their fufu. Those who believe no cassava no fufu or my cassava only fufu Fantefolk would heat the gari and pound it together with the plantain, cocoyam or yam into fufu. It was one heck of an impossible innovative fufuo solution.

When cassava gets sick, human men and women follow. With cassava, famine gets contained. Industrial starch, produced from cassava, has a role in manufacturing and, thus, industrialisation. Tuber and leaves are food. The leaves, in addition, are medicinal. There are cassava by-products in wine and an important brewing ingredient. It is a base in animal feed manufacture. Call it cassava or manioc, it’s still an asset. Healthy cassava is healthy people consumers, benefitting farmers, and jobs for those who work to process and add value to it. Once again, there is money in cassava; there is food in it and it provides jobs in cultivation and processing for the otherwise jobless. Therefore, there is good in cassava.

With all that good in a product, anyone would opt for cassava issue over sensational cacophony in exposing evil issue. Good must always prevail over the evil that men do. I heard there was no woman in the video. I wonder how many are aware their FIFA now has a woman Africana Secretary-General, a position from where the past president used to occupy. The infant man was secretary-general of smaller organisation for Europe.

When cassava is sick, there will be sickness for those starving from it, losing their jobs for it or losing money because they cannot farm it. If food which means money which is job creating and the making of wealth; that’s a development enabling chain – road to development without aid. When cassava grows, many other things grow; when it withers, they do too.

The cacophonous may argue about man not living by cassava alone. One would respond cassava is about woman and man. So if football is mainly a man’s issue, then that is less than half the population. There is justification in, then, that what matters is cassava that would produce food, and money, and jobs, and prosperity for motherland and my compatriots, women and men. Cassava is food production success and improved nutrition which is higher living standard.

 

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

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