On chicken gizzard and other matters –By: Chika Unigwe

The world is so full of bad news that I have been intentionally chasing the joyous and the ridiculous to keep from being swallowed by all the doom and gloom. I trawl social media for videos of cute pets and folks doing / saying silly things, and I Biko, shebi they say that laughter is the best high blood pressure prophylaxis? That’s my idea of ​​selfcare.

My search this week brought me to a tweet by a young Igbo woman narrating how an Igbo man came to visit her (together with others). She apparently offered them food (which included chicken) but she ate the gizzard, an act that rendered the young man apoplectic. Did she not know that gizzard was forbidden for women? How could she eat it, when he, a man was there? Had she no respect for tradition? This man castigated her for eating chicken gizzard because tradition demands that it goes This man is not her father ooo, but an acquaintance at best. Imagine policing what someone was eating in their own home, and enforcing “tradition” on meat that she bought and cooked herself. Is that one not rudeness plus foolishness?

I was very curious to know what kind of comments the post would get and I wasn’t shocked to see that there were (presumably) young Igbo men defending the guest. His supporters belong to the same groups that are up in arms every time any Igbo woman highlights an oppressive tradition. When I wrote about the disinheritance of women, folks like them accused me of either making it up or they staunchly supported it for whatever reason made sense to them. One accused the original poster of “forming woke,” It’s painful that anyone thinks that the right to chicken gizzard is a right worth fighting for. In 2022, bikonu. How utterly ridiculous and terribly sad.

I have said this often: culture is man-made. It isn’t set in stone. The idea that one mustn’t question tradition or amend it or discard it completely where necessary is outrageous. It isn’t “forming woke” to interrogate rules made a long time ago by a bunch of people for a society that has evolved and to abandon the ones we must. In parts of the country, including Igboland, twins were killed. It was tradition, but hopefully, not even those who It was rightfully abolished because it was an evil tradition.

In the past, widows were inherited by their dead husband’s brothers, but I can’t imagine that any of the young men who think that women shouldn’t eat chicken gizzard for being women would want their mothers inherited by anyone should their fathers die. We have abolished traditions, and yet our culture is still rich. It has a lot of beauty in it and we must not be afraid of keeping only the good.

My husband, J. often says that one of the things he admires about Igbo culture is our idea of ​​family as something bigger than just the nuclear family. He mocks complaints that he can’t keep count of my cousins, and my children are no longer shocked to discover that some of their “aunties” and “uncles” are not biologically related to them at all. It is schematically that in Igbo, there is no word for cousin. Everyone who’s related to you is your “nwanne m” ( The western concept of cousins ​​whether once removed or twice removed or whatever is alien. And sometimes, your nwanne is your nwanne because you come from the same town. It still blows my husband’s mind.

Last year, we met a couple from New York in Aruba (at a friend’s party) and we got talking. It turned out that the husband and wife were from Osumenyi. Our joy at finding each other so far away from home was deep, and Immediately, they began referring to my husband as their brother-in-law, and I was of course, their sister. For the rest of our stay, our interaction was that of kind red.

Another aspect of Igbo culture that J is appreciative of is its encouragement of hospitality. Growing up, our house in Enugu was often overrun with people. Guests didn’t need to let my parents know in advance. I remember relatives coming “on holiday” At our house by just turning up and staying as long as they wanted to. We were not atypical. Kindness to strangers and to visitors is an integral part of Igbo culture (and of many African cultures).

In traditional Igbo society, one of the worst crimes a man could commit was to harm a visitor in his home. Guests were to be welcomed and fed, and they in turn kept their own side of the bargain by being good guests, lest they departed with hunchbacks. O biara bee onye abiagbuna ya, we say in Igbo.

There is, indeed, a lot to admire in our culture, and traditions that we should ensure live on. I, myself, love the breaking of the kola nut at the beginning of important events. Even here, at Igbo events in the US, It is, to me, a reminder that we all – whatever part of ala Igbo one is from – are part of a community.

And as members of one community, why seek to uphold traditions that oppress others? What’s the point of it?

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