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Where On Earth Is My WELE?

After months of craving for food from my mother’s kitchen, I had the opportunity to go home fro vacation. I smiled as I sat in the bus towards Accra,my mind taking a hind tour of the semester before. All the gari and shito! ah my goodness! Rice in the morning. Rice in the afternoon…..rice everyday! It even got to a time when I sneezed, you see rice particles.

I arrived home to all the pleasantries,the “how are you” and ” I miss you”, then Iheaded straight to the kitchen. There it was, banku and okra stew. I must confess,its not my favourite but hey,what could i do? I didnt know how to prepare either. And ‘singlehood’ had made me not have access to the delicacy. I took the pick spoon and started to to tick the various proteins the stew had. There was tuna,crabs,oysters and salted beef(which i hated with all my strength).

But wait,where was the wele?!!!  “Mama,didnt you add wele to the stew?”, I asked in disappointment.

“O! what at all would you get from wele?”,she asked back. On hearing that,I was so shocked  that I went into the room to see who exactly I was talking with. Actually, I thought my dad had married a new wife. But it was my mum ooo. A lady who never missed the chance to add wele to her stew was now asking me this?

This one di33,am sure it was peer pressure! The women at Agbogbloshie market had succeeded in deceiving my mother that wele was useless. I mean,we all know that okro stew without wele is not complete. After years of putting wele in her stews,is it now that she knows it has no nutrients? Hmm,but what could i do? I ate the wele-less stew thinking it was just a one-off thing. a week later,the same thing happened. By this time, my life was in a total mess. I yearned for the bite,the taste. I yearned for the crunchiness of the hide. If the woman of my life, my mum,had decided to starve me of wele,who am i to complain? A second okro stew without the hide means she meant business! After all,how much ‘chopmoney’ do I leave on the center table? 0cedis and null pesewas.

Now the third time I saw okra stew being prepared during my holidays home, I did not even bother to ask for anything. I was simply going to eat without making any wele-ic comments. But then, after the food was served,there they were………..WELE!!! curled beautifully in the stew. my salivary glands oozed. my appetite was revived! honestly, I ate with all relish. Wele surely has nutrient; happiness!!! Thank you mom.

(wele is the name given to the cow hide that is processed and used in preparing dishes in Ghana. people say it has no nutrients…..but not me!)