The Unga Nation

Meet Kenyans. Who spend hours and hours on betting sites and thousands buying lottery tickets to find out if Lady Luck is on their side. 31,000 of whom die annually due to smoking but so many more get into it as if it’s some paying job. Who can’t let even the slightest issue go past without a forum of discussion on social media platforms with Hash tags that are retweeted for days on end. Who witness accidents to which happened long ago and just as they arrive, they have all the happenings in order. We love the camera and microphones and when you are guaranteed to be in the 7 and 9 o’clock bulletins that day, we outdo ourselves.

Let’s not forget a mother who awards her daughter millions fit cutting out several kilos while a child in the northern parts of the country is suffering from Malnutrition. Another just died because they lacked food or was on their way in search to quench thirst with the 5-litre kibuyu on their back.

Unga. The Swahili word for flour is the subject of every Kenyan’s discussion. Well, most. The center of discussion is the meal ugali, prepared by mixing hot boiling water with maize flour. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s a process and you have to get it right for anyone to gobble it down. The cooking aside, let’s get into the issue at hand.

Maize is Kenya’s main meal just as Uganda’s is green bananas. Apparently ugali was born in 1920, anyone who tells me otherwise I’ll take it. It is the backbone of every family’s menu and it is rare on functions such as weddings and the like. Then people prefer to explore other types of food, Western as opposed to African.

There’s a scandal facing Kenya, a crisis in other words! There’s no maize flour on the shelves in supermarkets and shopkeepers aren’t selling it cheap, and there’s nothing else we can eat apart from ugali! We must have ugali. It is the only meal that gives energy and it is what we eat from time, well long ago.. The government has been blamed for the lack of maize in the farms and people are lining up in the mills to purchase directly from there. Desperation.

Watching the news the other day, a bodaboda owner said what has been on my mind for weeks and I couldn’t help patting him on the back (mentally) .He said that he doesn’t understand what all the fuss is all about. “Wakenya waanze kupika nduma, ngwashe na malenge mpaka unga urudishwe.. “Doesn’t it make much sense this way?

In my own words, it is high time we embrace other kinds of foods. Unga wa ngano, spaghetti na mchele are flocking our stores. Let’s cook pilau and eat some spaghetti instead of the noodles that we are definitely tired of. There’s githeri kwa Mama Njeri and mukimo is a healthy option.  Why can’t we fall back on these? Alter our menus kiasi. Experiment more with chapati na maandazi. Traditions should change a bit, doing the same thing over and over gets tiring and boring as well.

We can’t even leave chai. Yaani there are so many things we do alike that it is so easy to point a Kenyan. We don’t even have diversity in our meals but have the audacity to propagate negative ethnicity. We all have chai na mkate every morning and if there’s a change, maandazi is bought. There are so many options to choose from but we are simply not adventurous. Unga we must get and ugali will be eaten leo usiku.

As we hopefully wait for the 90 Bob unga to be available to us the local mwananchi as we can’t afford Hostess, let’s give our digestive system and tract something different to work on. Positivity even through compromisation is what should guide us.

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