This morning as I was walking from home to the town center in our lovely capital city Juba where majorly agricultural produce are imported from other countries despite the largely abundant land and human resource that is now being killed other than being used in food production, I met school going pupils standing near some growing crops which to them have no name. Arguing in Juba Arabic, the other younger who seem a little clever told their friends that what they are seeing is Dura (Sorghum) the other pupils insisted that this is some grass. The older boy whom I was thinking could correct them all agreed with his views saying this though seem like Dura it is not Dura but rather a grass that grows around the South Sudan TV compound. But as I watch by, what they were seeing was actually maize crop that had not yet started flowering. Then I asked myself if this young school going age could not know simple plants that village uneducated child has planted for several times, what future is there in food production in the new nation? And what class is this that does not know crops? Is there agriculture being taught in our classes in South Sudan regardless of levels as subject? Or what syllabus are we following?
This brought to my understanding again a topic one day people were talking about. Here old people more over graduates. As a good listener that time I spared my time to pick up what they were up to-TRADITIONAL FOODS! In Equatoria as region several of us know what is good for the Azande of Western Equatoria when it comes to foods that come first on table one told the group. Gadiya he stressed while raising his arms as if picking food to mouth. Gadiya means cassava leaves in that side of the country. Among those arguing out points was one from Western Equatoria though not Azande who agreed saying if added Palm oil then more food will die than the Gadiya itself. Mentioning to the group in their loud tones were two youth from Central Equatoria Yei county_ LIMA BEANS. I personally do not understand at first what Lima Beans means but they went on by explaining that Lima Beans belongs to a class of Beans called Heirloom Beans. We leave to those studying agriculture but we move on with why mention Lima here. They said it’s the only Kakuwa food that comes first on table and when spoiled will earn you spear on your ribs those days unlike today that now the kakuwa Ignore the practice leave alone cooking but planting the Lima Beans. They said in Kakuwa traditions that when Lima beans are cooked the product is called WELE-WELE. I do not know what it means since they did not want to mention keeping the meaning as copy right protection. So we let it there but I advice that hook a friend from there to tell you.
Out of all the serious mention of all words that took nearly thirty minutes few of the people wondered what these guys should be talking about. They did not wonder in silence but in curiosity of wanting to know these foods that sound to their ears so new and strange to their taste. The more interested guy asked about these so called Lima Beans how they look and grow. Quick enough from the so traditionally sounding Yei guy words came, the some like what you know_FULU MASERI! The Yei boys threw question inquiring how FULU MASERI grow from the seemingly expert though not their traditional food. Off course no answer from him who says it’s their food in the cities they grow in. This Lima Beans eating man said to the FULU man that, that is how they grow and look. Here I did not want to keep silent. I questioned the Lima Man if he knows how these FULU are planted or else how they even look like when growing. Silence came from him to my side. Another man wanted to know that so called Gadiya that we nearly forgot to mention. He was simple. Tell me guys what this thing is because I use to hear from my Habibi (Juba Arabic sound )meaning Lover but I fear to tell her that I do not understand. It is good today we here men let me know. I was heartbroken but simply said mildly in Juba Arabic too-Rusal Bafura. He is like Yasala, Yasala, and yasala in Juba Arabic showing that he is surprised. Here in town we eat it but do not know how it grows. I have not seen it in my life time. But it is nice when cooked enjoy with Kesira
Then I ask myself again, are these grown up the same like the primary going kids?
These kids might be right to not know crops, how about the university aged group?
And if you do not know how cassava grow, how about other crops?
Should South Sudan produce crop videos to play on the national media?
More questions I asked because we cannot eat things that we do not know how they grow leave alone how they are grown.