I Need Grandmothers for My Stew!!! Kikuyu ‘Nyanya’ and Kiswahili ‘Nyanya’

This is a story about Kenyan tomatoes and grandmothers.    Ann comes twice a week to help me with laundry, clean a bit, and to help me learn to cook.   We learn each other’s language as a result, and her grandson Samuel translates when we get stuck.    Ann is Kikuyu, one of the well-represented tribes here in Kenya.  She retains her customs and her language.  

 She brings a long her very smart grandson, Samuel, who is trilingual at age 10 and is learning the almost-forgotten kikuyu language in urban Nairobi.  He is one of a few of the younger generation who is instructed to retain his mother tongue. 

This particular Saturday I am feeling more like myself than I have in many weeks and have energy.   I began cutting up the leftover potatoes as they were just on the verge of not being wonderful.    As a side note of some importance, I now am more convinced than ever that the U.S. food source is chemicalized and dry rotted.  The produce looks good in the stores, but it lasts soooo long that I cannot imagine it has any nutritional value in its flesh.  Lucy, the mom to Saidimua, Khoboso and Katap (see the Bead Making post), is a doctor, and she tells me that what happens chemically to the produce in the US is that it literally rots on the inside, but because it was chemically treated in the preservation process, there is no bacterium to spoil and tell the nose that the fruits and vegetables are rotted.  It is so sterile, that no smell results.  I am getting this mental image of fruits and vegetables floating in laboratory jars full of formaldehyde…but I digress…..

Back to the potatoes:  So, I did something in cutting the potatoes that made Ann uncomfortable, and she took over.  Bear with me because this will all tie in shortly.   Turns out, she cannot understand leaving the skin on potatoes.  This is probably a health thing here.   Now, not only are the potatoes ready, but there is a whole Kenyan beef stew brewing!!!   <pic>   We rummage through the produce drawer of my little Samsung refrigerator and find that I have all I need except for one ingredient, tomatos.  Now, “nyanya” is the Kiswhaili word for tomato according to my dictionary, and I told Ann that I needed some nyanya (tomatos) for the stew.  She questioned me, I repeated, we moved on…

Sometime later while talking to Eunice, I learn that “nyanya” means grandmother in Ann’s native kikuyu language.  

I had told her I needed “grandmothers” for my stew!  That floors me.  

I suppose upon reflection that because the stew was made by her hands, a little Kikuyu nyanya (grandmother) went in with the Kiswahili nyanya (tomatos).   Simple and oh so tastey!!!!! 

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