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  • Sunday, 22 May 2022


Anayo Nwosu


I was barely thirteen when it happened but I still remember vividly the incident. It was like yesterday that Mama Obiora, my mother, nearly killed me. My mum started with a thunderous slap and followed with uncountable strokes of “akpụlụ ekwe” or local cane.


It was on a new year eve, that very year after Alhaji Shehu Shagari was overthrown. I did what I deemed normal and traditional which made my mum to nearly kill me. The then Nigerian ruler had introduced Austerity Measure as an economic policy and my mum, a struggling widow, had cascaded the hard-time measures to her household without carrying me and Tochukwu, my younger brother along.


Before my mother returned from crossover church service or midnight mass at St. Peter Claver’s Catholic Church, Akwunweke Otolo Nnewi, I had led Tochukwu, my younger brother to lick up the pot of Onugbu soup she had cooked a day before.


We also devoured the four lumps of meat in the soup. We didn’t need our mum’s permission to consume any cooked food before the dawn of the new year. It was an Nnewi tradition to eat or discard before December 31 midnight and never to eat, any cooked food prepared prior to January 1. It was regarded as “nni folu afọ” or simply an “expired food”. It was a taboo to eat “nni olae” or “food expired by time”.


In fact, cooked food not consumed before 12 might on December 31 was thrown away and not even given to domestic animals. Eating the expired food was believed to bring bad omen to the consumer and the family. But my mum didn’t tell me that we were no longer going to observe the age long tradition. I was confused as I guessed that my mum was beating me for another offence not for helping dispose expired soup and meat.


That tradition of throwing away “overyear” food in my town died a natural death but I had resurrected the practice in my home in 2001. But my wife wants it abolished. Being that the same situation that made my mum abolish the culture while I was growing up seems to have re-emerged, I cannot but agree with my wife to jettison the practice of discarding food prepared before 1st of January in my house.


Even the deaf doesn’t need to be told that an economic war has broken out. The stew and ogbono soup my wife made on the 27th of December 2021 lasted till January 5.


Bad times are back again. Buckle your seat belt!

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