Reclaiming Our Identity: The Things We Lose On Our Way to Civilisation 2: Born Houses.

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‘We di chop, we di chop, we di born. We di born, we di born, we di glad, we di glad, we di glad, we di fat’.

I don’t know what those lyrics imply and even as an adult, I can only try to speculate their meaning. One thing was very clear to my childish mind back then. This song was and is still very popular in homes welcoming a new baby. So to my young mind, it meant whenever this song was heard, there was going to be food, drinks, palm wine, white powder and dancing.

We kids used to look forward to the discharge of a new mother from the hospital because it meant enjoyment.

Item 11 was always aplenty; with neighbours bringing in food to help entertain the guests of the new parents. Those who couldn’t go to the hospital remained behind to collectively clean the compound and prepare the main dish which has come to be known as the famous ‘born house planti.’

Apparently, born houses are slowly losing their importance. Gone are the days when new mothers are welcomed with songs and dancing and steaming food from the hospital. This is especially true in our big towns and cities. The reasons for this are many. It has been stipulated that changing times are making it increasingly difficult for such born houses to be organised by many people.

Lifegenerally is busy and many relations like grandparents are quite busy to supervise these born houses. Canned drinks are replacing palm wine, cola nuts and this special food ‘born house planti’.

The adaptability of western cultures is also a factor. Many today have traded the more ‘cooler’ and modernized baby showers for born houses. While both of them are important to any who wishes to do it, they are not the same thing. They are as different and unique as their names imply. One prepares and supports the parents while the other welcomes the baby. Considering how important a child is especially for us Africans, It is reasonable to think born houses should take precedence.

One other thing that is slowly killing this practice is the heavy financial toll on new parents. Many have to entertain guests again and again. Depending on the number of social groups the new parents belong to, these entertainments though not bad in themselves, can be financially draining for the new parents. Of course, some visitors come with food and drinks but gone is the solidarity that existed in the yesteryears when neighbours collectively cook to welcome the baby as we observed growing up or read in African Folkloric novels like The White Man of God by Kenjo Jumbam.
So my dear J2Eners what do you think about these changing trends? Should we hold tight to them or slowly let our identity continue to be eroded by the globalised village and modernisation we are caught in?

 For me, I will prefer to continue eating my ‘born house planti’. Not only is it special, it reminds me of a cultural identity I should be proud of.

Who will join me in eating ‘born house planti?’

(Ngomtarre aka born house planti cooked and served. Picture credits Mrs Prudencia Asanga Cho)

 

ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW.

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Author: ARREY - ECHI

I am a Sickle Strong Warrior and Advocate. Welcome to my space.

18 Replies to “Reclaiming Our Identity: The Things We Lose On Our Way to Civilisation 2: Born Houses.”

  1. It might be considered the loss of identity but I see it as social evolution. If we were to attempt in reclaiming the African identity because somehow it’s considered having lost it since colonialism and embracing the industrial revolution, surely we must also welcome the idea of living in huts, ditching the cars we also drive and clothes on our backs because I am not so sure even the sewing machine was in Africa before the European landed on our a shores during the Scramble. Surely we can ascertain to living way better now than ages ago.

    1. Life is not static that much is true. However, we can move with time without completely losing ourselves. Cars, sewing machines etc were not in Africa true. But I don’t think all we knew about housing was living in huts and in the while. The Ancient African Empires had amazing building structures I dare say. So while we are embracing the positive sides of civilisation, we should also strive to keep in tact what makes us stand out, that I think is the crux of the article. Thanks for stopping by and for the beautiful contribution, Bertrand Egbe.

  2. It a common saying that ” some times we win some to loose some”, Africa in the face of Civilisation was as at their second time of encounter with west ravaged by protracted social dormancy and so in some places the west was embraced while in others it was forced encounter.
    In life the weak is subjected to love what they like and like what they hate.Africa lost so many pride, this is just one out of somany.

    1. Thank you John Murphy for stopping by. I love the ‘sometimes we win some to loose some’. I must say in our quest to move along with changing times, whether willingly or forcefully, we went at a pace that didn’t give us a enough time to pause and look around us to see if we moved too fast or not. I still stand by the conclusion that, being humans we certainly can not leave without change but we can embrace the change without totally losing ourselves. Thanks again for the imput.

  3. Yes, we are getting more assertive. I read somewhere that the sales of hair relaxers has drastically reduced. More black women are learning to love and appreciate their natural hair. They are putting away those weaves and wigs in favour of their God-given curls. We are strong and we are unique. We need to believe in who we are.

    1. That is very true my dear Precious. We need to embrace our uniqueness in an ever changing world. There is no need in losing ourselves while embracing the change. The new wave of natural hair is what holds sway among African ladies. Still, not all can keep and maintain natural hair. Therefore, it is great if you can find a balance between what works for you while staying true to your roots.
      Thank you my dear for always stopping by. The support and encouragement means alot.

  4. All I see is that born house planti up there. I’ll certainly make some for myself this weekend. I can’t even remember when last I heard of a born house celebration.Now na baby shower hold am. Civilisation will never claim my love for our ethnic dishes. They are simply unbeatable. That song at the opening of the post is epic. Made me nostalgic. Interesting read, sis.

    http://www.preciouscore.com

    1. Na really baby shower hollam all side!… Enjoy ya born houseplanti oh. I dig this one here. Yes,our dishes are in a class of their own! The song also brought about nostalgic feelings.
      Thanks sis.

  5. Arrey thanks alot for writing on this Born house issue,yes Times have changed alot,so do financial obligations too. Its all about joy and celebrating the coming of a new baby. What I hate about modern day born houses is that they would sing just two all three born house songs and then ask the Dj to play coller la petite.So even the songs that enhanced our identity and culture and fast lossing value

    1. Thank you for that insightful comments and for the pics for the post, Prudencia. Times have changed indeed and it is ironic that with the simple, yet epic songs of our born houses, people would prefer coller le petite. We need to collectively do our part to safeguard what adds value in enhancing our identity.

  6. Wowwww beautiful article. Born house has definitely lost value especially in the western world. Now it’s baby shower to celebrating 1st anniversary. Worst is how people go about baby shower. Chaiii but that born house planting no get part 2 ooh. Me I di cook na 2 wife in a month so until March. I go just di swallow saliva.

    1. Born house is truly losing value. There are some situations we could very well preserve while we try to fit into a global village. Born house is one ofthem. LOL ee really no get pakr. Me sep sep don salivate, no worries March no far again lol. Thanks dear for stopping by.

  7. western culture lost.i doubt what will replace thid dish when it comes to bornhouse.i remember my younger sisters born house my mum was asked to pay fin for not getting it ready on time. this tells us how important it was back then.chaiii Ma Arrey you too just fit makam man finish saliva for yi mouth with that pot.where meat sef dey ontop the planty?
    a mean PORK?

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