Communities are known for particular things, some for agriculture, some for artworks, some for eating a particular food and some for a peculiar dance. But when things go from the normal to the absurd, like a community where it is a taboo to fry bean cakes (akara), it calls for surprise.
No one could give the reason for this law or maybe they know but chose to be mum. Chukuku community in Kuje Area Council has been in existence for many years but in all these years, it is against traditional laws to engage in frying bean cakes called akara in local parlance in the community.
Akara is a local delicacy made from grounded beans which is seasoned, spiced and deep fried in oil. It is enjoyed with pap, tea or used as a filling for bread.
Chukuku village, a traditional Gbagyi settlement with all semblance of a traditional community, predominantly inhabited by indigenous people is located between Gwagwalada and Kiyi village.
Though the community shares several similarities with other neighbouring villages, it is distinct for one thing; akara cannot be fried in this village.
Those who are in the business of frying akara as well as those who enjoy the local delicacy have had to relocate from Chukuku as a result of the obscure law.
But as is the case with such traditions, several reasons have been ascribed as to why akara cannot be fried in this community.
A little boy who accompanied our reporter round the village said legend has it that frying akara was banned to prevent witches from using the oil used for the frying to perpetrate evil.
“They use it at night to kill people. That is why it was banned,” he said.
Another native of the village who expressed willingness to explain the story behind the ban had hardly told the story before he was hushed by his friends.
According to him, witches and wizards used the smoke that emanates from the frying of akara to move in to attack people at night.
There is a similarity in the two accounts, the bid to stop witches.
The village chief, Mallam Jibril Sarki who spoke with LEADERSHIP would not give the reason for the ban, hard as we pressed. He said it is a tradition handed down to them by their fore fathers.
The chief who spoke through a representative, Usman Biko, said they were all born and met the tradition and it has been like that ever since.
The chief’s representative who expressed willingness to discuss any other issue in the community was unwilling to discuss the ban on frying of akara and became very uncomfortable each time the issue came up.
“For many years, we have never fried akara. It is our fore fathers that started it, it is our culture. Nobody fries akara in the community. I don’t know why it is so but that is just the way it is,” he said.
He also declined to give answers to questions as to whether someone can fry akara inside his house and eat without getting into trouble.
When asked what he would do if he had cravings for akara he said, “I will go to Gwagwalada and buy.”
When pestered more, Biko said talking about the issue was a scary topic and nobody could muster the courage to talk about it. He added that only the chief of the community could answer the question and it was in a bid to evade it that he opted to speak through a representative, even though he had earlier agreed to keep an appointment with LEADERSHIP.
Biko was however quick to speak about the evolution of Chukuku people. According to him, their fore fathers, Etsu Demo, Etsu Faji and Etsu Bayedaza who were hunters had lived under a hill which was known as old Chukuku and that Etsu Demo who was the eldest of the three brothers had decided to settle the community at the present Chukuku when he saw how fertile the land was.
Truly, the land has continued to be fertile for the community as they have become proud farmers of yam, guinea corn, rice, soya beans and millet which according to Biko, they sell at markets in Gwagwalada and Kuje.
Because farm land is important to the community, the secretary of the chief, Mohammed Tsugbaza pleaded with the minister of FCT to show them the demarcation of their land which will give them peace of mind and help them embark more on their chosen profession; farming.
“We want government to show us the demarcation of our land and that of the government. If not we don’t want to see allocation letter from anybody and anything can happen if this is not done. We have written to the area council through our lawyer several times. We want them to show us the demarcation.
“Many people come with allocation documents and whenever they come, we always tell them that we don’t know anything about it. The council agreed that they didn’t inform and compensate us and they said anybody with an allocation letter should come to the area council,” he said.
Apart from the issue of land demarcation, the community is not happy with the minister of state for the FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, who they say had promised to channel water to the village through the stream in the village, called River Sumo and was yet to fulfill her promise.
“Since 2011, the minister had promised that our river here will be a source of water for us but up till now, we have not received any feedback from her. She came here with our chairman then. We need government to distribute water to our different villages,’’ he added.
The community also appealed for even electrification of villages in the community and for more transformers to be given to them as the population was fast growing as well as the rehabilitation of the roads especially the Kuje-Gwagwalada road, the fencing of their clinic and primary school and a request for a secondary school in the community.
While the community seeks modern developmental landmarks, it is however stuck with its old tradition of not frying akara and people who chose to live there have come to accept the law.
“I came in here and was told about it and I just have to respect their laws. It has nothing to do with us. I know that one can do the frying inside ones house and no one will know about it unless you announce it” Isa Mohammed, a native of Kaduna said.