The Boy who wanted more and dining hall etiquette.

Some have food but can’t not eat
some can eat but have no food
we have food and we can eat
glory be to thee oh lord amen

The first time I went into the Dining Hall I heard this song from the students.

It was a large room with about twenty long tables. The students looked up expectantly as I walked in with Madame Onu, the French Teacher.

Breakfast varied. Sometimes it was corn pap (Ogi) with Bean cake (Akara) fried bean powder cakes seasoned with salt and pepper. Maybe it was just our cooks that left out the seasonings leaving the Akara rather bland. It might be a solitary egg or a plate of Beans accompanied by Bread Ibeji washed down with a cup of hot tea. Sometimes the bread would be served with a spicy mackerel stew, which left your tongue tingling when you followed it up with a hot cup of Bournvita or Bongo or Lipton Tea. I remember the names of the Tea.  I can’t really say why.

Lunch or Dinner might be rice and beef or fish stew, Yam with fish stew or beans. Sometimes it would be boiled Garri which they called Eba with stew and green okra. The food wasn’t that new to me. We ate it back home in London. A lot of it was much more fresh than the stuff we got from Ridley Road Market in Dalston. It was just that there wasn’t always that much of it.

The teachers had it more easier. Our food was much more than the students rations and probably prepared with more quality ingredients. Even then sometimes the Ewa (Black eyed beans stew) could be watery and give me a stomach complaint or contain little black weevils.

The first time I saw them I commented on it.

Mr James just laughed. “Think of them as proteins.” I think he actually believed himself.

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