In Mama Opio’s scenario, three days are spent in search of fuel-wood in the riskiest of areas let alone preparing food for her household and the community in Gulu. Yet her innovativeness toward energy transitions and time are neither valued nor quantified.
By Ann Grace Apiita
It was one hot sunny afternoon when a colleague invited me to experience Acholi cultural buffet prepared in one of the most famous restaurants referred to as ‘Mama Opio’s Open Kitchen’. Having lived and worked in Gulu town (northern Uganda) for three months, I welcomed this pleasant invitation.
As we walked towards this humble eating joint, I marveled at the various vehicles parked outside Mama Opio’s kitchen and the long queue created by residents waiting patiently to be served. Our turn came, and I was stunned to see ten different traditional medium to small-sized saucepans containing diverse foods simmering on each stove.
Her food really looked delicious, but that was not all that met my eyes: ‘This is absolutely innovative of Mama Opio to modify a mud stove to cook ten types of food in one go!’ I exclaimed loud enough for my colleague to say something in that regard. Still, I insisted and asked him what he thought about the stove.
“What matters is this piercing hunger I feel and all I want is food – simply food,” he told me without hesitation. “For the many years I have eaten Mama Opio’s food, I have never noticed her cook stove until today.” As I listened to him in amazement, it was an innocent but upsetting response. Nevertheless, we enjoyed this traditional buffet.
The response I got from my colleague is an example of the many responses one gets from several households from sub-Saharan Africa. While we dream of a world where zero hunger prevails, most communities in East Africa are either blind or oblivious to the significant role that women play, not only in cultivating food but in energy transition. If women spent more of their time in productive activities, they would change their economic situation.
However, in Mama Opio’s scenario, three days are spent in search of fuel-wood in the riskiest of areas let alone preparing food for her household and the community in Gulu. Yet her innovativeness toward energy transitions and time are neither valued nor quantified. Implying that most women who encounter similar circumstances still live in abject poverty today.
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