Sunday 8th September 2013
Looking back at what we ate in exile in Congo Kinshasa (DR Congo today) in the early 1960s, it’s a wander that we have teeth at all! Brushing was alien to us then, as it must be today for literally all the Congolese, I’m sure. Yet there is no time that my teeth have enjoyed such rich whiteness and strength and my mouth cleanliness as when we lived in DRC!
I can’t say the same for my skin, ravaged by many diseases as it was and as is still evident today, but the teeth and our whole being were inexplicably healthy. “Inexplicably”, or so I thought. Thanks to Yahoo information that I chanced on recently, now I know why. Still though, I must confess that it’s hard to believe and the following is why.
A day always went like this. For early rise, I competed with the domestic rooster so as to be through with home chores before the sun hit temperatures. First, I picked a split calabash (uruho) that was used to draw banana-brew (urwagwa) from the main container and gulped a few swallows to kill off ill-luck for the day. You see, water only portended poverty – and who wanted to court that loathsome condition?
From home, I’d duck into our or a neighbour’s banana grove; there was always a standing banana stem that had some ripe banana. This, apparently, was the only sign that it was ready for cutting down as mature. As for going into any field, there seemed to be an agreement that anybody could pick from anywhere, whether it belonged to family or not.
There were many types of banana. It could be that of the small type that were exclusively for eating ripe. Or those for cooking; those for preparing brew; and others that could be put to a variety of uses. They were all at our disposal, which tells you a thing about why UN organisations, plus a cocktail of other Western do-gooder organisations, have maintained their presence in that country from the moment colonialists were “eaten out”.
For info, “eaten out” refers to how Belgian colonialists in the Congo were forcibly ejected from the country. Where in other countries they ambled out of their own will, even if reluctantly, in the Congo they had no such a chance. In some parts, the method of chasing them away included, for instance, a couple of natives seizing a colonialist and tying him on a tree. After that, they gathered firewood, after which they made a fire. Then they carefully removed the man’s clothes, the strongest native picking the best piece of his wear.
And then, with their hunting knives, each picked the choice part of the colonial master’s body for roasting, as hunters in that country still do today after a successful hunt. Now it was barbeque time! When that news spread, the colonialists’ scramble out of the country could only have been rivalled by the great annual migration of millions of wildebeest, zebra and other antelope in East Africa – a long tale for another day!
But before we went into matters end-of-colonialism and wildebeest migration, we were on our daily drudgery of the Congo. After our breakfast on banana, on our way to fetch water, we’d pick an assortment of fruit which we gathered and placed in our folded long shirts, which could contain a healthy amount of supply.
The wear of the time for us boys need be explained. It was a long shirt that covered you down to the knee, which sufficed as complete wear. That’s how it could carry practically any amount of supply, since you could fold it according to the size you wanted. If the amount of fruit demanded it, you could even remove it to use solely as a container. It was this supply that we munched on, once at the water well.
There was also a wear of a piece of cloth one end of which you used to tie and hang it around the neck. With that, it was hard to tell your gender – but again that’s another story for another day!
Anyway, the variety of foods. There were wild fruit that fell in practically all categories. And since they were virgin and had not been corrupted by fertilizer and such contaminating agents, they had added value. Whatever your age and station, get an equivalent supply of these 12 foods and you will be assured a clean mouth and a clean bill of overall health.
The foods were equivalent to those prescribed by doctors for all-round good health today. Strawberries; seeds; nuts; onions; apples; baking soda; celery; carrots; pears; cheese; oranges; milk; water. Say it, we had it or an equivalent.
Take this list seriously and you’ll live in perfect health: mouth, body and mind.