I have been going to the market for some few months sometimes spending 30 mins to 1 hour depending on how long my shopping list looks that day, looking for Honig Cube aka Black maggi. I will buy one thing turn around and ask if anyone has black maggi for sale. This went on for some time until one day in February, a guy I always buy crayfish from and who apparently is an Anglophone understood what I was searching for and then he gave me the breaking news of the possible demise of this illustrious daughter of the Cube Family. He took a while to convince me that, that particular maggi may probably never make a comeback to the stalls and shops.
He also tried convincing me to buy the maggi cube aka yellow star magi since it was the one available then. Haven grown up cooking with maggi as one of the spices in food, there was nothing else to do except grudgingly accept what was available and head home.
The following market trip, I again asked for black maggi. This guy just smiled and told me ‘Since before Crismos black maggi no de market’ I think that is when it hit me that once again something I grew up with has most probably joined the list of extinct childhood goodies that left many a 60, 70 and 80s kid with fond memories of a well spent childhood.
For as long as I can remember, my mama has always prepared food with black maggi. This love was most likely passed on to most of her kids and cook only with black maggi did we! Anyone reading this must be wondering why this absence created such a nostalgic vacuum that filled me with sadness? Well, In January, I met a sweet lady in a 1001 Reasons Workshop in Yaounde. (A facebook group which is trying hard to practice what they preach by taking the knowledge from the big screen to the field). Her name reminded me so much of another delicious childhood sweet I enjoyed while growing up … Bongnkar.
Truth be told, that night, I couldn’t help thinking almost everything I have known and used as a child is slowly going to extinction. Then I tried to dreg my memory of what I enjoyed as a child which is still available? Looking for ‘Coubang biscuits’, ‘jacko’, ‘bongnka’ and the list goes on is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haysack. The chances of finding them in the market are next to nil. So many biscuits are in the markets today but none is coubang. So many maggi cubes but none is black maggi. There are so many sweets but none can ever be bongnka, so many shoes in different colours and styles but none can be Bata.
I just couldn’t help feeling sad that an important part of my childhood is carefully being erased in the market of assimilation and competition. And I asked myself, why can’t there be room for the old while we embrace the new? If you haven’t held a bongnka for example and eat it to the end oblivious to everything around you because you are totally engrossed in savouring that sweetness, you can never imagine what this extinction means.
It saddens me that kids of today nor might any future generation not have an idea of the goodies that made the 60s, 70s, and 80s childhood. Many today are just memories and what memories they are!
ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW