WHY CHILDREN WERE DENIED EGGS IN ANCIENT AFRICA

by | Nov 11, 2019 | Art And Culture | 1 comment

 One Christmas in Awkuzu, my grandmother’s hen laid 9 eggs at the backyard of her neighbor. We went to see the mother hen. We were told that as an ancient custom, the new host (the neighbor) would protect the hen and eggs until the eggs were hatched.

And my grandmother would offer to this neighbor, 2 chicken from the broods as a compensation.

*** This is the tradition of the old ***

Years before our fathers embraced the western lifestyle, children were forbidden from eating eggs. This, as sarcastic as it may sound, prevented most children of that era from becoming thieves. Most of us still find it difficult to link egg-eating and thieving; however, no one will understand the past with the mindset of the present.

In the olden days, there were no poultry like we have these days. Domestic animals like cattle and fowls were raised mainly in a subsistence fashion. Local hens, which is the main subject of our discourse – and as I narrated in the introduction – laid eggs indiscriminately. Nevertheless, domestic eggs were never a part of their usual delicacies, they were only eaten not to waste them.

What does that mean?
Only a poultry man – or a village man – will understand the psychology of local chicken and how common it is for local hens to abandon their eggs.
As a boy, we were told that once you touched any of the eggs, the mother-hen would not hatch it, and this is very close to the truth. Again, if the mother hen notices snakes, rodents or insects around her nest, she leaves the nest for another place. Therefore, when this happens – and it happens often – that egg would become a waste.

In the days of our fathers, the adults in the house took those abandoned eggs and turned them to foods without giving any part of this accidental meal to children as a precaution against encouraging stealing.

They are right. Viewing this from their perspective, one could infer that a child of that era that took liking to egg would not understand that eggs were not food. This child probably would go out of his way to get those eggs – without considering the fact that neighbors’ hen was at liberty to make nests anywhere. And being a thief is simply taking what is not yours.

Before I stumbled upon this truth, I thought our ancestors were ignorant, but the truth is that they were not. Feeding children with eggs, considering their time, WAS really a bad omen.

Ozii Baba Anieto
Ajambele