By Odimegwu Onwumere
Aunty Grace flogged me that day. I’ve ever lived to remember that. It’s the day grandmother sent me to the market. She said that I should use the Kobo and buy moi-moi and eat. It’s when moi-moi was foiled in plantain leaf. Milk cup wasn’t then used to make moi-moi.
When Aunty Grace caught me on the bush path eating the moi-moi while going home, she leveled the entire cassava stem in the nearby farm on me. She said that I was a disgrace to her brother, who’s my father. She said that her brother was a disciplined and a middle class man.
When passersby came to my rescue, she said I should promise her that I would never eat again on the road all my life. That caution over 30yrs stuck to date. But to my chagrin, I see well-dressed persons eat, trekking on the road, either masticating corn, plantain chips or licking orange or something. I’d thought that Aunty Grace was wicked, but she saved me from this nuisance.
When I brought this experience before friends on Facebook recently, a lady who resides in Canada opined that she did not see anything wrong in eating in the streets, but it all depends. ?I don’t see anything wrong in eating on the road. So long as you are doing it responsibly. For instance on Thursdays, I?m so busy that the only break I have is just 10 mins.
?And that break is walking from class to work which is approximately 10 mins. Shuffling food down my throats as I rush to work is the only solution, if not, I will have to wait till I get Home. There are so many people their lives are like that, especially in the developed worlds…
?You get so busy that sitting down to eat during the day is a lot of wasted time…. Here, we eat in classes. But how dare you eat in the class in Nigeria, especially when the lecturer is teaching!? she said.
A diplomat with notable organisations around the globe said that we Nigerians were raised up with the view that it does not add up to eat in the streets, but reiterated that eating food deserves some dignity too.
?Well I was shocked arriving in New York for an international assignment and seeing all my colleagues drinking their oatmeal along the street and heading off to work! I couldn’t adjust as I had to learn how to not take breakfast at home but either at work or buy a carry-food box for my breakfast. To see a papa bom-boy drinking oatmeal or tea and biscuits along the road took a lot of adjustment for me,? the diplomat expressed.
The diplomat continued, saying, ?Well I returned back to Nigeria for short-term assignment with the UN in Abuja. Since I formed the habit of being at office at 7am I continued that way showing up at work by 7am with my oatmeal cup and biscuits which I will be eating heading up the stairs or the lift. This was before the BH bombed the place!
?So one day one hard-nosed and no-nonsense Secretary asked me this question; “Dr. make you no vex. I wan ask you question”. And I said, ?Yes?. Then she goes on this way; ?Oga wetin dey drive you away from the house that you show up here every 7am drinking oatmeal, abi you no get wife for house? If you no get, please let us. This is embarrassing for a big oga like you”.?
The man said that he just laughed but she went on saying it is serious. So this madam secretary has already judged him and his status and placed him in the category of big man who shouldn’t be found racing to office too early and on top of that taking oatmeal breakfast to office.
?Big Oga takes time to eat at home the breakfast prepared by the wife. In fact every big oga must be married! Culture is variegated and shaded so much ? diversity doesn’t capture it,? he enthused.
However, if you ask me to mention a people who have manners and attitudes to lose, I would mention the West. Laws and laws in that place have caged the people to be respecters of laws but abandon the moral and morale etiquettes.
Of what glamour does it add to a man to wear his clothes in the street because he wants to be quick to office? My people, amorality has no maternal home. Diplomacy has to go in line with decency. Decorum should not be subjected to repression and we call the later civilisation or lifestyle.
I was taught to always uphold decorum and will never distance myself from morality. It is important that the dignity of human being is upheld all the time. Countries should teach their people how to live a life of constructive and co-operative.
Eating in the streets is madness sound, just as we have wave sound. If films have decorum in order to reach to a wider audience, why can?t human being be respected and given orders that should elevate their status instead of denigrate them.
Source: ?Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Writer, Rivers State. ([email protected]). Tel: +2348057778358.