Though Prof. Wole Soyinka refers to his as “the wasted generation” based on his perception of the acute leadership failure in Nigeria in a 1984 article published in The Punch and just early this month, in an article published in Daily Newswatch, the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, refers to this generation as “a wasteful generation” due to how we waste things and resources, my own thinking is that one feature of the current generation of Nigerian students is Indomie! For the purpose of convenience, I brand it the Indomie generation.
That this is the Indomie generation is self-evident: it manifests in the laziness and cluelessness that characterize the current folks within whom poor cooking skills are prevalent. As a result of the proliferation of restaurants and the fast food joints of this world, young females are not seriously learning to cook any longer. The poor parenting quality of the cafeteria-going career women is also responsible for this as many families rather than cook at home buy prepared meals outside. The excuse is that everyone is busy.
For the students on campus, Indomie is the ultimate victim of demolition because of the ease of its preparation. Before writing this article, I had talked to a few girls who confessed that the only food they can prepare well is Indomie; some add, apart from Custard and tea. As if the repercussion is not here already, this situation has serious implications for marriages as the Yoruba axiom holds that the key to a man’s heart is his mouth or what he eats and that throat route is heaven’s route.
In the continuation of the socially destructive role reversals of today (i.e. women wearing trousers, men wearing earrings; women bread-winning, men baby-sitting; women wearing low cut; men plaiting hair; women being hot; men keeping cool, etc.), Nigerians have belied the Japanese proverb that “men don’t enter the kitchen”. As a matter of fact, not only do they enter the kitchen, they have even perfected art of cooking than women.
For example, one recollects that one Mr. Olusola Idowu Oluboro won the 19th Maggi National Cooking Competition in 2003 and another man, Mr. Olafare Olaniyi Oladejo, was his first running mate. Since then, men have often, not always though, been dominating cooking competitions. A 17-year old boy then, Chidera Okenwa, won the 2009 edition of the “Maggi Cook for Mama Competition” while in 2010 at the University of Calabar, in a competition that involved girls as well, Joshia Eghrudge won the “2010 Maggi Campus Cooking Competition”, with other boys, Walter John and Odel Mitchel, lining up behind him as second and third position winners.
Perhaps in redressing the situation and drawing attention to the need for girls especially to be good cooks, the Postgraduate Hostel of the University of Ilorin organised a cooking competition recently. I think it was a good and timely initiative taken by the Hall Mistress, Prof. Victoria Alabi, for the Indomie generation. It was quite an experience to see young students, mostly teens, displaying their culinary skills with some of them showing exceptional dexterity. It was also good that the winners, the trio of Mercy Oyeniyi, Pauline Raji and Saidat Suleiman, in that order, got handsome gifts for their efforts apart from the naira rain showered on them and other participants by the Chairman of Hall Masters and Mistresses, Prof. Yasir Quadri.
For those who read the ‘agony pages’ of Nigerian newspapers where readers lament their matrimonial misfortunes and seek advice from self-appointed counselors, poor cooking is often cited as one of the reasons for which marriages collapse and husbands venture elsewhere. For the marriages that do not collapse, wives complain of philandering on the part of their men who want good food and end up in Mama Put’s restaurant.
As part of the strategies of securing future families and addressing the dietary needs of everyone, the noodles-gobbling young women of this generation have to train themselves on cooking. The parents too, especially the working women, should also orientate their children, both male and female, in this respect because a stitch in time saves nine.
With more competitions like the one held at the Postgraduate Hall recently and with more cooks like those whose fried rice some of us tasted and tested that Saturday, it is apposite that future families will be saved from cuisine-related agonies and more students would have better dieting habits and alternatives to the current fixation on Indomie noodles.