Fish anyone?

Fish is a better choice of meat than most, and for a number of reasons. Where on earth have you found meat you can sun-dry and eat, without having to cook it?

Also, fish usually dies its own slow, less painful death moments after it has been harvested as opposed to animals like cows and goats and pigs, which have to die a most gruesome death, hacked down mercilessly by man. And when it’s being chopped up, fish bleeds less horrendously. It bleeds with some kind of dignity.

When it comes to brochette, few meats can compare with fish brochette, one of the main reasons being that; when have you ever sunk your teeth in half-cooked, or is it half-grilled brochette? When you order for a fish brochette, you are sure of value for money. Well, in most cases.

But fish is not about brochette alone.

There is deep fried fish, which pairs well with sukuma wiki, the famed Kenyan recipe. In fact, have you ever encountered a platter of deep-fried tilapia or Nile perch, shrouded in a little gravy and paired with sukuma? Yes, seasoned sukuma wiki enthusiasts refer to it simply as sukuma.

What is sukuma? Actually, what is sukuma wiki? A super food. Imboga. Very popular among Kenyans. If you have a Kenyan friend here in Kigali, chances are that they have a secret sukuma patch blooming in their backyard, and one that they won’t tell you about unless you really mean that much in their life or unless they are really that tipsy on Uganda Waragi or ‘Konyagi’.

Sukuma wiki also has a literal meaning; “push the week”. This is in reference to its ready availability (and affordability for those that have to buy it); hence it “pushes the week” until one lands on money for beef and goat and chicken and fish.

I actually find this to be an irony because the typical sukuma wiki eater considers it a delicacy. A luxury even.

But this was supposed to be about fish, right? Fish like sambaza.

Sambaza is not easy to describe to someone that does not know it already. But I will try. Let me try.

A kind of fish that is endemic to Lake Kivu, in Rubavu, Northern Rwanda -the fish being small but not very small either.

Sambaza may also be described as a kind of fish that is slightly bigger in size than Indagara, and slightly smaller than sardines, but tastier than both sardines and indagara combined. In fact, so tasty is sambaza, it is much more than just taste to the buds, it’s a feeling.

This should be the reason it costs an arm and a leg, because can you imagine that in Kigali, one sambaza costs Rwf25, meaning you will get only four of them for Rwf 100?

But the problem I have with sambaza is the same problem that I have always held against my favourite passion fruit drink, Agashya. This is because whenever the urge for Agashya hits me, I always have to make my way through the thick of human traffic in Nyabugogo, hop onto a bus, and head north-wards, to Nyirangarama, home of Agashya.