Who is supposed to do the cooking?

Although nowadays the best chefs in the world are men, culturally, it was a woman‘s role to prepare food and put it on the table with the help of her daughters.
A stove and a pot used by Rwandans for cooking in the ancient times. The New Times / D. Umutesi.
A stove and a pot used by Rwandans for cooking in the ancient times. The New Times / D. Umutesi.

Although nowadays the best chefs in the world are men, culturally, it was a woman‘s role to prepare food and put it on the table with the help of her daughters.

Traditionally, Rwandan men reared cattle, went hunting while the women cultivated, took care of the home in terms of cleaning the house and also cooked. Something that never seemed clear was the fact that women would prepare food that they were not supposed to eat some.

It was a taboo for a Rwandan woman to eat chicken, eggs, goats’ meat and many more delicious foods although they were the same people who prepared the food. The women were indeed very patient; it’s intriguing how they could know that the food was ready without tasting it.

With the changing roles in the current society, cooking can also be done by men. I know many people will try to disagree with me on this but the social structure changed.

In the early days people lived in homesteads as families and in case a wife of a home fell sick or she was undergoing labour pains, another woman from another home would come and cook for the family.

A lot has changed. In the traditional times, food was prepared and cooked in pots and the fuel was firewood while today it’s prepared in saucepans made of steel on a gas cooker or stove. Therefore change is bound to happen in other aspects like who is to prepare it.

Today, people live in mansions which are fenced that they barely know the person living next door. In case the mother of the house falls sick and there is no house help, the cooking is either done by the father or food is ordered out.

Both young girls and boys in the current generation have to know how to do things collectively if we are to promote gender equality. With this kind of collective spirit we won’t have conflicts on who should do what.

This last holiday, I visited a family and discovered that they had two teenagers, a boy and a girl. I later discovered that the home also had three househelps. I didn’t expect such a small family to have all those workers as if it was a restaurant.

One of the workers acted as the security personnel and a gardener, the second’s work was to cook, wash clothes and clean the house while the third acted like a nanny to the teenagers. 

This made me wonder what kind of generation their parents were grooming. Teaching a teenager how to do chores at home is not punishing them. In fact, it is training them how to be responsible people in the future. Charity begins at home; therefore, its family that grooms a responsible citizen.

Our forefathers always worked together in groups and as communities. For example, while fathers along with the sons would be milking the cows, splitting wood for cooking, the mothers and daughters would be in the backyard preparing a meal for the family.

We should emulate our cultural traits of collective participation in whatever we do, thus developing one another’s skills.

 

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