Dodo and Beans

Colgate prides itself in tradition. Please describe a religious, cultural, or family tradition you can share with the Colgate community.

The sound turned the very marrow in my bones to ice: a six pound bag of olotun beans trickling onto a shallow plastic tray. I did not wait for my mother to instruct me to perform the ensuing task. I made reluctant haste to the kitchen where the inevitable awaited me.

There are few things more characteristic of a West African childhood other than a meal of Dodo and Beans. Its presence at our dining table caused a frisson of ecstasy amongst we, the younger ones, whilst our mother and the older girls who helped to cook the meal observed with knowing smiles. When I turned eleven; an age my mother deemed appropriate for the cultivation of traditional ‘womanly’ skills; I was forced to confront the monster that made our kitchen its abode. My mother slashed through its outer fibers and I watched, transfixed, as a steady stream of beans gushed through the hole of the fat hemp sack. I was charged with the task of sorting through the infinite mass for misplaced corn seeds, tiny stones, and broken husks.

Resigned to the futility of the task, I made a poor job of sorting through the beans. The result was a gritty sauce that left one’s tongue smarting- and many a ruined meal time. My mother threatened to punish my indifference but my motivation to improve my efforts stemmed from the disappointment of my younger siblings.

Thus, I learnt the value of serving a greater need at the expense of one’s personal benefit. I was no longer the child that could tuck into my favorite dish without care for its tedious preparation but, as I observed my younger relatives relishing the dodo and beans which I had cooked, I realized a sense of complacency that was simply transcendent.

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