The Philosophy of Fufu

Tue, 7 Jul 2015 Source: Nkunim, Yaw

Life is about relationships. How we relate to our creator, fellow human beings animals, plants and the elements is all but the philosophy of life. In short, our relationship with nature determines the quality and consequence of life. Even business is simply about relationships. In Africa, nothing is ordinary, except to the uncultured eye. Africa is a land of deep philosophical culture. Our diversified culture is undeniably the most harmonious with nature. Indeed, the foundation of African philosophy is the striving to achieve perfect alignment with nature. Balance and harmony are the core elements of a peaceful and fulfilled life.

Food is sustenance of life. Food is therefore an inseparable component of life. Actually, we are what we eat. Our depth of philosophical nature therefore envelopes our various foods. One such food with great philosophy in its preparation and make up is Fufu. Fufu is a major menu in Southern Ghana, particularly of the Akan areas. Other areas in Africa, including parts of Nigeria, Cote D’voire and Guinea also have similarly differentiated menu of Fufu. Parts of Togo also have their own versions, with the main staple being yam.

At a glance, the preparation of fufu, seems an unnecessarily tedious exercise. However, at a critical observation, every ounce of energy input is worthy in every respect. The major theme of fufu is the balance and harmony of relationships. Its main staples are plantain and cassava, though others like cocoyam and yam are also used. Fufu is in two parts, the pounded solid staples and the liquid variety of soups. In every facet of this great philosophical food, the balance of opposites, harmoniously relating to each other is conspicuous.

The green plantain is mainly iron in nutrition whiles the brown and white cassava is generally carbohydrate. Plantain is harvested from the top of the tree. Cassava is harvested underneath the soil. They are both peeled into the same pan for cooking on the same fire. A mortar and a pestle, symbolic of the feminine valve and masculine phallus respectively, are the accoutrements for pounding these two different colored staples into a fine mix of sticky smoothness. Just as in female and male relationship, the sitting woman mixes the plantain and cassava in the mortar, whilst the pounding comes from the standing man.

The constantly paced pounding, programmed to avoid the lady’s turning hands, impart practical lessons of the rhythm of life. This brings to the fore, consciousness of the delicate nature of feminine element and the subsequent need to relate to them with careful attention. The strenuous exercise of pounding builds up the stamina and muscles of the masculine energy of brawn. Indeed, there is no pot bellied fufu pounder. An hour of fufu pounding is worth far more than a drive to the gymnasium, in terms of physical dividend and economic productivity of time management.

The accompanying liquid soup to the solid fufu comes in assortments. There is light soup, palm nut soup, groundnut soup, ebunu ebunu (green green soup from kontonmire) and many others. There is indeed special nutritionally boosted soup for fresh mothers called abenduro (palm medicine). The meat for various soups range in wide variety; goat, mutton, chicken, bush meat, fish and snails. The choice depends on individual taste and protein needs. However, the biased preference of bush meat goes with the green green and light soups. The others mostly go with groundnut, palm nut and light soups.

The fine balance of the light or liquid soup with the solid fufu is interesting. In life, there are uncompromising solid matters and flexible light matters. The philosophy here is, there are solid issues whose core cannot easily be compromised. In the same vein, we have light issues of equal importance but generally flexible in approach. These are philosophically and respectively represented by the solid fufu with limited ingredients and the flexible liquid soup with a wide variety of ingredients.

Culture is based on inelastic truth. Therefore the core of culture is constant. Refinement or modernization is therefore to enhance quality, not total abandonment for adoption of new cultures. Philosophy, like culture is also based on inelastic truth. Changing or compromising philosophical order is therefore abandonment of truth. Total replacement of great philosophical systems can therefore never yield the desired results of the original order. Inevitably truth will prevail.

In projecting Ghana and Africa to the center of the world, our great philosophies cannot be compromised or abandoned and still yield the desired results. Anticipated results of peace, justice and prosperity for the new day of great promise. Politically, we cannot successfully move forward without our philosophical culture. CPP is our culture transposed politically. Nkunim woho mayen!

Author: Yaw Nkunim

Columnist: Nkunim, Yaw