When my family moved to our long-term rental in Labone, the area provided all of the creature comforts that a girl of nine would need. There was a shady tree under which to shoot the breeze, a kiosk across the street that sold toffee and Malta when you could afford it and there were nice, and wide tarred roads on which to ride your bike if a girl was fortunate to own one. My sister and I were such fortunate girls.
Funny thing about bicycles: their tires always seem to go flat at the most inconvenient moments. Fortunately for us, there was a pair of enterprising young men who operated a tire repair “shop” of the corner down the street from our house. Peter and his brother What’s His Name would happily patch the punctures in our tubes for a few cedis very two weeks. In time, I began to see a pattern: Our tires would be stout and good as new for about 5 days, after which they would develop a slow leak which would then require the two brothers’ attention in addition to what was racking up to be a fair amount of our money in exchange. Finally, somebody in our house had had enough of those particular shenanigans.
- A tire repair kit was brought from America.
- My father showed us how to remove the bolts and separate the wheels from the frame.
- Superior patches were applied.
- The three of us learned to inflate tires with our new pump, and in teaching us these skills in basic mechanics, our parents saved themselves dozens of cedis in the long term and planted a seed about the perception of our abilities as girls and the realities concerning gender roles, by extension.
If you haven’t gathered by now, the rudimentary lesson is that ability and skill have nothing to do with gender and everything to do with training.
You can’t train a man to grow and uterus and give birth, but you CAN train him wash his own clothes. Likewise, you can’t train a woman to impregnate another living being, but she can certainly learn to engineer some new software or solve complex equations. (Not too long ago, it was a firmly held belief that math and science were “boy subjects”, because girls did not posses the intelligence to allow them to excel or operate in these areas.) Really, the only thing that differentiates a man from a woman is the tools required for human reproduction. Neither sex is holier, smarter or more/less compassionate than the other. Feminism tells us this. Common sense tells us this. Even the bible that patriarchal African men delight to thump the population with tells us this. And yet; I don’t know what it is about the typical African male that makes him so obdurate when confronted with this basic premise.
There’s just this ONE idea that this breed of men remain completely moored to, and it’s that cooking is the exclusive domain of women. Married women in particular. In fact, it is vehemently asserted by pastors and playboys alike (who can forget Dag Heward-Mill’s lament and brain-itching church camp chant about Ghana Girls’ inability to fry an egg) that if a woman doesn’t/won’t/can’t cook for a man, she is no “real woman” at all. And she must be a feminist. And feminism is of the devil.
Yesu Cristo. You don’t spend your days planning meals, boiling rice or pounding yam and suddenly you are a Satan worshiper… Because toiling in the kitchen is the only way to exhibit “submission” and harmony in the (faux) Judeo-Christian African home. If you are such a man using the bible to shame, antagonize and needle women into adhering to something that is contrary to her nature or core beliefs, I am here to help us all. I believe you will be blessed when you, Patriarchal African Man, not only can but SHOULD be cooking for yourself and your family. The one thing standing between you and your destiny may be a coal pot, a spatula and a word from God. That said, I bring you:
GREAT CHEFS OF THE BIBLE
There were once two brothers: Jacob and Esau. They were twins. Jacob was favored by his mother and kept close by her. Esau was a hunter and a gruff man, beloved by his father. As you might recall from your children’s bible studies, Esau was the older twin and was therefore the rightful heir to his father’s legacy (and fortune). Well, things didn’t work out for ol’ Esau because his hunger got the best of him and he didn’t have the patience to cook his own food. You pastor is always telling you not to sell your birthright for a pot of soup but what he neglects to tell you is that your manifest destiny is in learning to cook your own beans in the first place.
29 One day Jacob was boiling a pot of vegetable soup. Esau came in from hunting in the fields, weak from hunger. 30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red soup, because I am weak with hunger.” (That is why people call him Edom.)
31 But Jacob said, “You must sell me your rights as the firstborn son.”
32 Esau said, “I am almost dead from hunger. If I die, all of my father’s wealth will not help me.”
33 But Jacob said, “First, promise me that you will give it to me.” So Esau made a promise to Jacob and sold his part of their father’s wealth to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and vegetable soup, and he ate and drank, and then left. So Esau showed how little he cared about his rights as the firstborn son.
The story ends with a prophesy that Esau will become Jacob’s, Jacob becomes Israel and his people prosper in the land for a time.
See? If you learn how to cook your own beans, you can get a new identity and become the father of a whole nation of filmmakers, jewelers, bankers and high end fashion designers to boot.
If that doesn’t convince you, consider the Levitical priests of the Old Testament, or as I like to call them, the OGMs: Original Grill Masters.
The Old Testament is full of burnt offerings: rams, bulls, turtledoves, goats, and sheep without speckle. They would make a great sacrifice of flesh, sprinkle some blood on the altar and the presence of the Lord would fill the temple. Don’t you, Patriarchal African Man also want to be a bringer of the presence of the Lord? Don’t you want to bring comfort to those you presume to lead and call yourself head of? Learn to dress and grill meat!
Finally, you know who else was a great chef? Jesus. You heard me right: Jesus H. Christ used to cook for those he loved. And I’m not talking about that one time when he blessed a small boy’s lunch box and feed 5,000 people with a few morsels of bread and koobi. I’m talking about how he prepared food for his loved ones.
John 21: 7-14
7 The follower whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter heard him say this, he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water. 8 The other followers went to shore in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. They were not very far from shore, only about a hundred yards. 9 When the followers stepped out of the boat and onto the shore, they saw a fire of hot coals. There were fish on the fire, and there was bread.
10 Then Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
11 Simon Peter went into the boat and pulled the net to the shore. It was full of big fish, one hundred fifty-three in all, but even though there were so many, the net did not tear. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat.” None of the followers dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, along with the fish.
14 This was now the third time Jesus showed himself to his followers after he was raised from the dead.
Christian African Patriarchal Man: Are you better than Jesus? If Christ could grill fish and serve bread, what law prevents you from doing the same? Or you are not a disciple? See your life.
The bible says in Ephesians 5 that:
28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself. 29 No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it. And that is what Christ does for the church, 30 because we are parts of his body. 31 The Scripture says, “So a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one body.”
Why are you so averse to taking care of your own body? You want the body to take care of itself while you do what…watch Man Utd all evening? My dear fellow, take up your cross AND your spatula and stop this behavior. Your unwillingness to learn to cook and leaving the task exclusively to women to cook is ungodly, plain and simple. If you don’t care enough to explore her feelings on the matter, at least be selfish enough to consider how your brutish laziness looks like sloth and rebellion in the eyes of God. And then repent.