By DAVID KANDUZA –
AS Zambia comes of age its people have become proud of traditional foods as a result of vast tribes which hail from 10 provinces across the country.
Although each province and tribe have their local delicatessen, over the years, things have gradually changed as almost all native foods can be found all over the country regardless of its origin.
Kalembula (dry sweet potato leaves), Kanunka ya uma (dry black Jack), Chibwabwa (dry pumpkin leaves in groundnuts sauce), Bondwe (dry amaranthus), Ingolyolyo ( Pigeon peas) and so many others.
There are also seasonal foods like caterpillars, green grasshoppers, plus the common village chicken.
Village chickens have become highly prized possessions now because people have realised the health risks involved in eating broiler chickens and have resorted to only eating the local chickens.
As a result, the village chickens have become scarce in town areas and can mostly be bought in rurla areas at a high price.
All the local cusines can be enjoyed alongside Zambia’s staple food nshima, which is made from maize, cassava, sorghum, millet and wheat meal.
Zambia being a hub of tourism has seen the development and rapid expansion of the hospitality industry.
Traditional foods have played a key role in emphasising Zambia’s hospital value system in the sector of etho-tourism.
A museum expert Charity Salasini observed that most value systems around traditional foods such as sharing and celebrations, reflect the hospitality and well-being of the Zambian society.
Ms Salasini said a programme the Copperbelt Museum introduced last year called ‘Catching the Culture of Food’, aimed at popularising traditional foods in chiefdoms on the Copperbelt for the purpose of good health and income generation had paid off.
The starting point for the programme was the Mutamfya Nsala Traditional Ceremony of the Lamba speaking people of Chieftainess Shimukunami of the Lufwanyama District.
At this ceremony, Ms Salasini said the museum took advantage of documenting the traditional foods in the chiefdom because of the significance of the event in promoting food security and food preservation.
Ms Salasini, who is director at Copperbelt Museum, said ethno-tourism in this regard relates to unity in diversification that acknowledged ethnic groups that had something to contribute to national development using culture and tradition as their bases.
She said one such sector of exploration and presentation was embedded in traditional foods, which were conserved and preserved in chiefdoms.
“In the era of economic development through crop diversification traditional foods must play a critical role in the innovation of cultural products that could propel the hospitality industry as it relates to tourism and income generation,” Ms Salasini said.
Unhealthy foods popularly referred to as fast foods have been identified through research as the major causes of obesity in Zambia.
About three million people were designated to be obese, a condition which had been described by health experts as life threatening and socially inconveniencing.
Royal historian Yotam Kasapule expressed concern at the level of neglect of traditional foods which had affected the younger generation.
Mr Kasapule hoped the combined efforts of the meseum and the chiefdom would rescue the generation fro further disorientation and abandonment of traditional foods.
One alternative to curb this situation, as recommended by experts, was to enhance the consumption of health foods, among such as traditional ones which include grains, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits and roots.
Ms Salasini said this would lead to economic development.
According to food specialists good nutritional habits and a balanced diet are not developed in one day, nor are they destroyed in one unbalanced meal.
“Healthful eating means a lifestyle of making choices and decisions, planning, and knowing how to make quick and wise choices when you haven’t planned,” the food specialist said.
Knowing how much and what to eat is important knowledge to all of us.