Decolonizing the plate with cassava
Peoples. I am a cassava farmer. I might have mentioned it before but let me share again. This is why I plant cassava and cowpeas, and ignore the popular route of maize and beans. Its both an act of activism, but also a shrewd defiance campaign towards food sovereignty. No one should control what my family eats, where or when.
However, most Kenyans, even those that don’t plant maize, are dependent on the crop for everyday starch. Maize is controlled by government because you have to sell your surplus to the national cereals board. Once you sell maize, you don’t have control over it. It belongs to the [corrupt] government agents and their cartels.
Food – especially maize and relief food in particular – is often used as a political tool. In 1992, I was barely 10 years, I saw people line up at my local market to get relief food and then vote back the Kanu government. I was disgusted. In the 2017 elections, you saw it happen when maize from Mexico was basically what you sold to the cereals board redistributed to make you vote in a pattern.
Maize is seasonal, cassava is available all year round, so in times of Covid-19, we get a parcel every other week for as long as the counties are open. Maize is highly dependent on weather, cassava does well in the most harsh of circumstances. Maize shows its yield openly, cassava hides its yield under the soil – so no thief can easily know what quantity of cassava is on your farm – only you knows what you plucked yesterday and what you planted a year ago.
In my view, if you want to achieve food security and sovereignty at the household, Cassava is the African crop of liberation. It’s stamina is unparalleled if not unquestionable. Afro-dizzi-ac. Moreover, there is 50 ways you can cook cowpeass (Nzuu), from it being a main meal to making gravy for wetting down the strength of the cassava.
If any friend here is stuck with food supplies for the week, drop me DM and I will have a parcel of fresh yield sent to you today (within Nairobi). This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that where I come from, we produce the sweetest honey and fruits, but that’s a story for another day. Thank you for coming to my Ted talk. #madeinmakueni #afroliberation
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