A picture of Moyo Okediji sitting in front of his artwork



The phone rang.

“Prof,” It was Ayo’s voice. “If you haven’t made any plans for Christmas, come and have lunch with us. All the kids have traveled. But Biodun is preparing for Christmas as if the house would be packed with children and their friends. She is making assorted stews—egusi, ewedu, ogbono, iru, fishes, meats, etc, etc. Don’t bring anything. Just come with an appetite. Or bring guests!”

“No rice and chicken?” I asked with a knowing smile. I knew his answer.

“You already know that I personally like to make Gari on Xmas,” he said. “But if you want rice and chicken, Biodun will make them for you. Whatever you want, we will prepare for you and your guests.”

When I was growing up, Christmas was the only time that even the most deprived Omo Odo (housemaid) had a right to eat rice and chicken.

Ayo, my friend, told me the story of her stepmother who always made gari for him and gave the others rice and chicken on Christmas.

Ayo’s mother died while giving birth to him and his father married a woman who bore his father two boys and they all grew up together.

But Ayo was always treated poorly, and the excuse was that Ayo had a stubborn head.

Even on Christmas, he ate gari because he typically flunked his exams, and the exam reports always came a few days to Christmas.

In those days, even the most wicked master or mistress wouldn’t serve gari to the housemaids (Omo Odo) on Christmas.

He always watched with dismay as others ate rice and chicken and he ate Eba.

He told me that he has decided to hold on to the Gari on Keresi habit just to remind him him how far he has come in life.

But how fast has time changed!

People are now intentionally preparing Gari for Christmas!

I asked myself: Instead of rice and chicken, is it okay to chop gari on Xmas as the family of my friend is doing?


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