Several years ago, on a typical ‘Good Friday’ celebration, in the comfort of my Parent’s baroque yellow & white Brazilian-quarter-bungalow, tucked away within the safe haven of Catholic Mission neighborhood, I would have gladly woken up to . . .
Clattering of deep oriental dishes arranged by color and floral patterns! Already carefully washed and wiped dried! I bet, with strict instructions from my Mom on how She’s managed to inherit and preserved them without any cracks!
Wooden gift baskets with folded napkins with individual family name tags, waiting on the dining table! In fact, I remember certain selected names over the years and smiles as I look forward to the delivery of the delicacy!
Wooden Raspado for coconuts (waiting to be cracked and scraped) The hardest part of cracking and scraping the juice from the coconut, I always managed to escape this part!
Black beans slow cooked over-time, over-night, large skillet pots, charcoal fire. Chopped onions, tomatoes & alligator peppers stewed with bay leaf.
Seasoned fresh red snapper fish, peppered cray fish, deep-fried shrimp, large blue crabs cleaned & marinated, now in relationship with each other!
Aroma of sautéed and stir-fried peppered snail directing traffic and confusion between Campbell & Broad street!
Tilapia fish, so settled and humbled in their new abode; grated garlic and ginger sauce!
Assorted seasonings like cloves and fresh thyme hanging around like foreign neighbors!
Oh no! IT IS FREJON DAY!
With all that’s going on around the world, I absolutely, almost forgot all those fun years until a childhood friend and my next door neighbor then (now lives in The UK) sent me a text reminding me of how my Mom would constantly send “Those Frejon Baskets” to their family every Good Friday, and how much they’d loved it! #ThanksAngie
Oh wow! Brought back….Good Old Memories!
Even though it was a cultural recipe passed down from my Paternal-Grandmother (The Coker’s- The DaSilva’s -The Gansallo’s) to my Mother.
Our family Frejon was usually made in large bulk and distributed out as gifts to family & friends every Good Friday!
The packaging is usually more exciting for me! The selection of dishes to use, how well the bean puree is carefully poured inside the deep oriental dish, separating the dish for the fish stew, peppered fish or separate side dish for Garri (cassava flakes) to sprinkle or side dish of peppered snail garnished with bayleaf.
As a child then, I usually just looked forward to the token (money) I get from delivery the frejon! In fact, as I got older, I became wiser and selective on which family house to drop off the ‘Frejon basket, so my tip was bigger! Lol!
So. . .
Nothing excites a child more than seeing family members travel from far and wide just to gather on the ‘Island’ with Uncle Kayode (My late Dad) to eat Frejon, experience the great Easter Brazilian Fanti carnival! …’every April!
Nothing beats the memories of how much emphasis my mom made on the importance and value of the measurement of the beans pudding, the clove, the texture of the coconut milk when mixed to smoothness while cooking it in the paste! The aroma of grated ginger, garlic and other spices over seafood splashing and dancing in a sizzling frenzy in a big frying pan!
Fast Forward. . . Today! My Kids, The Generation Z! They don’t really care about the sizzling ginger or garlic over sautéed fish! Or why I have to feed the nation with black beans cooked so-long when I can easily pick up black-eyed beans from Taco Bell! Phew! ‘They don’t get it, right?
Amid social distancing and all that’s going on, Good Friday, hmmm.
I shall be ordering Bob Evans ‘Fish & Chips’ to celebrate with my Family – I don’t think these kids care so much about the texture of sautéed ginger snails and frejon! Maybe my grandkids…
‘I hope my Mom and my late Grandmas will understand!
Yours in HOPE,
Frejon (From Feijão, which is the Portuguese word for beans) is a coconut milk and bean soup which is eaten especially during Holy Week by a selection of Christians, mostly Catholics, across the world. Countries where Frejon is popular include Brazil and Nigeria (especially among Yoruba who returned to Nigeria from Brazil at the abolition of the slave trade, and settled in what is known as the “Brazilian Quarters” in Lagos Island), and also Sierra Leone on Good Friday, or for functions such as weddings. Because dairy foods and flesh meat (beef, pork, goat) are strictly forbidden on Good Friday, this dish is a suitable accompaniment to non-dairy foods such as fried fish and peppered snail.
I once travelled with a childhood friend and her family to their village for Christmas decades ago. Our destination was to the eminent village of Oraukwu in Anambra State. Approximately 20km southwest of Awka, local govt center, and about 500km (7 hour-drive) to my home in Lagos.
As a teenager then, leaving my usual Lagos city life at Christmas and pledging to spend it outside my home for the first time came as a huge surprise to everyone, but I wanted more, so much more than the usual-fancy block-street carnival party that’s always been religiously celebrated by my Lagos-Brazilian Quarter families every Christmas.
So, here I was, surrounded with very little understanding of the Igbo language spoken around me. But I was most certainly comfortable with the usual ‘Ndo’‘Kedu’ ‘Odinma’ etc. greetings from well-wishers, even as my girlfriends and host were my interpreter! Lol.
Of all the pleasant people I met, the magnificent houses built like National Theater or something magical from a classical movie tucked away behind clouds of trees and dusty unpaved roads!
The fleet of exotic cars lined up as baseline to the entrance of gigantic gates, of all the flames from exposed make shift kitchens blaring up and convincing everyone of palatable feasts in production.
Of all the performances by the energetic village dancers or new exquisite soup like Oha to consume, I was more thrilled by the action of the group of women assigned to cook.
I stood astonished watching as their bodies swayed in unison, wiping away sweat from their foreheads while their laughter deepens, bare feet stamping over spread-out sack-like cloth on flat ground, digging their heels harder as if deliberately commanding the out-sprout of the contents inside the sacks.
With such naïve inquisition, I later learned it was a usual process of shelling the seeds of cucurbitaceous (squash, melon, gourd) plants which after being dried and grounded will be used as major ingredients by the women cooking.
Wow! Such an intriguing resonating revelation!
That was the very first time I encountered the term ‘Threshing Floor’ in a cultural context: an evolution and transformation of seed/ grains. Well, until I attended the just completed heartening ‘Emergence Conference’ powered by Esther’s Preparation Room.
What-an-Awe-inspiring gathering of Purpose-driven Professional women on a Mission for God!!
What an exhilarating Thursday evening of deliverance from those fancy adornments we use as cover-up and fronts to please the world!, what a deliberate cry of mercy to disconnect from what/how the world requires women to look like, a purposeful drive to adopt 3-unknown prayer buddies! ‘beautifully delivered by Minister Raeni of Nehemiah Troop Prayer Ministry!
Oh, what a remarkable and powerful Friday of prayer/prophesies that exposed and released the hidden seeds during our threshing floor seasons, the rebirth of emergence within every womb of a woman by Sister Nike Fabemgbe of London Agape Prayer ministry!
And that awesome Gala evening …the KIB Foundation Launch and SHEroes Award night! ‘seeing teams of like minded people from all works of life, coming together to bring out the Abilities in all given diagnosis of Disabilities in children, especially in Africa!
Literally, could our lives be likened to those seeds, hanging on in (sacks) and refusing to undergo garnering? ‘What happens to us at the threshing floor? Self pity? Deliverance? Security allowance? Divine provision? the difficult discussions of life we dodge? And then, what happens after? When we allow the husk, the chaffs holding us back to loosen up and become renewed?
Can you relate to that? I do.
So, often during the times of our greatest challenges or need, we may find ourselves giving way to the stress and strain that comes with it by battling one another; forgetting who the real enemy is:
Our Refusal. To undergo. The Basic Process of Threshing.
Visions are delayed, Harsh words spoken, friendships are broken; we choose sides and draw lines.
Feelings get hurt. Betrayal runs deep. Psychological sack cloths that are supposed to be spread out and trampled over like we are walking around the walls of Jericho to bring out the savviness in us, are still being hung up as emotional decorative mirror and admired like a lesser god in our hearts!
It gets harder to forgive and keep moving forward. And sometimes we get stuck, right there in the broken mess of it all.
We wobble on a spiritual tightrope, fearing the slightest misstep off the threshing floor will toss us back into the canyon of God’s disapproval.
Today, as you are reading this, I pray we all come to understand the blessing and pass on the lessons learned from those challenges we encounter during the season we find ourselves on the threshing floor, to accept it as a mission for evolution, materialization and possibilities to be used by God.
To see ourselves as those seeds or grains loosening up from the chaffs of impossibilities, out of the sacks of limitations and into a new season of our lives. Not necessarily as a punishment, but as re-birth!
*** A big salute to all Esther’s Preparation Room, Katherine Israel Bolarinwa Foundation (KIB) and Emergence Conference Planning team!
“As an organization, we are humbled by the mandate we have received from the Lord to raise a new generation of professional Christian women who will dominate and impact their sphere of influence for the Kingdom of God.
There is a cultural shift coming and EPR has been positioned to be on the cutting edge of this new movement. We are actively preparing to rollout our various global programs which will empower each woman to (i) raise her leadership lid, (ii) sharpen her skills, talents and gifts, and (iii) identify the niche audience/market she’s called to serve“.
Adenyke Israel-Bolarinwa Executive Director Esther’s Preparation Room (EPR)
Thank you EPR, Women who have experienced challenges, who are not afraid to cut through threshing sacks, willing to emerge, stem the tide of childhood mortality in Africa, Women created to improve the well-being of the African child, by giving them a chance to ultimately pursue a full life – beyond any dis-abilities, any diagnosis or any discouragement!
Thanking God for an awe-inspiring 2019, as I embrace and welcome everyone to year 2020, A new year of ‘Boldness in Moving Forward”
Yours in HOPE,
As I share…’Lauren Daigle’s Rescue from Grey’s Anatomy!
There comes a time in our life when we should start thinking about what we will leave behind after we die.
Well, not everyone enjoys talking about it anyway, but we should! Like, Y-e-s-t-e-r-d-a-y! Because we will all pass away someday.
What will be our legacy? How will our lifestyles be recorded into the annals of history?
Are we aware that this is a deep healing and gratifying moment that could also beAdvertisement our only chance and opportunity to pay it forward or celebrate life by creating a setting for others to follow?
So, do you remember how you felt when you lost someone close to you? You witnessed dreams and aspirations snatched away coldly leaving behind dark visions of despair and uncertainty about the future!
Did your life take an unexpected turn when people you love are diagnosed with a terminal illness? The big question we battle in our minds over time as we witness their pain and struggle with recovering and treatment is…’Will-They-Ever-Make-It?
Or will theydisgrace death and defeat the grave? No matter what, our lives and their new journey would never be the same again.
Aha! Because an irreplaceable vacuum has been deposited in our hearts.
The fairytale life we had always dreamed of for them is no longer possible. Is it okay to question God at those very hurting period we witness with them? Or be like Job and continually keep seeking His face in the middle of it all? Is there still hope after all? #EmpathyLeadsToHope
I still clearly remember the night when my parents went out for an event….
It was Christmas of 1980, my dad wanted to impress his guests that night and had driven them all to watch Bobby Benson’s High-Life band play at the lavishly furnished ball room of Eko Hotel at Victoria Island Lagos.
Jubilant! Excited! my cousins and I (who had come visiting from Port Harcourt and UK) danced around our Christmas tree in the adult parlor as we waved goodbye to our parents, flashing our hand-held sparkler fire works! And as my dad’s car zoomed off the street, we were left with traces of rays from the street lights that eventually nudged us back inside.
But, my parents never came back that night or the next day!
Nothing prepared me for the tons of relatives who stomped into our house for the next couple of months!
There was constant whispering, cleaning or attending to unfamiliar faces who had pressed the loud doorbell that always made our dogs, Jolie and Julie mad and bark uncontrollably!
The warm-natured relatives from my mother’s village in Delta State had hired a commercial station wagon named “Eni Afe” (the one we love) to transport them and their bags full of African pear and Garden egg directly from Oshimili Local government to my door step on Lagos-Island!
Oh by-the-way! Did I mention that they were always humming a moody native song and slapping their heads or their hips! Pointing to the sky as if blaming God for not being on time to the rescue! Or were they blaming the automobile company for the accident? I could barely pick their language, but was always able to identify the word “moto” as they begin to use their wrist to wipe away invisible tears.
And every time I would glare at them in fear and confusion wondering where they kept my parents!!
“Ah, I-s-i-o-m-a ’Nne m” (meaning My-good-head daughter or good-luck-girl-child) they would exclaim and carry me off into a non-auditioned Igbo dance and bury my head in their humongous Saturday Night-talcum-saturated bosom, like I needed to be smothered because I was missing motherly affection! Oh well, at that time, I guess I was anyway…Phew! #ILoveMyMothersPeople
And on the other side, my father’s Lagos-Brazilian quarters family members would all stroll in, in their meticulous apparel, puffing and huffing about how Uncle Kay (my dad) just won’t stop smoking, drinking and driving! their high stiletto competing with their pitchy British accent as they search in their patent fancy bags for a glass-beaded rosary that will be used to sanctify the house or search for their fancy hand fan even as the ceiling fan was in full motion!
I watched as they try to escape the cold nose caressing from our dogs! Their house helps or driver sneaks up behind them carrying home-baked bread and fruit baskets brought from Tom Jones area, covered with beautifully embroidered napkins.
Oh! There you are Yinkus baby! Everything is fine oh? We must book a mass for the family! Let’s thank Saint Christopher and Our Lady of good counsel! Or ‘has anyone gone to Catholic Mission to report this to the Arch Bishop? I will have my driver come get you for the weekend to play with your cousins at Ikoyi club” And then a big hug consumed with choking concentrated overdose of vintage Hermes perfume!
Thank goodness for older and notorious cousins who were very crafty in stealing top-classified family information! Last I know…they saw my Dad’s car somersault several times and crash into the edge of the reef at Bar beach!
All 4 of them (My dad, mom, late Uncle Siji and Dr. Alagoa) lost consciousness and were rescued by a nearby white garment church congregation having a vigil at the same time on the beach!
Okay…so they made it out of Eko Hotel and crashed into Bar beach on their way back home. Severely injured with the car written off! Both on admission and physical therapy for several months as I was left in denial about their disappearance until they returned home, not the same as they left in December, but alive.
At that moment and such tender age, nothing could have soothed or comforted me enough! For all I care, I could have been an orphan-in-waiting until they eventually came back home with bruises and scars so pronounced, even our dogs wept for them! Literally.
Today, as you are reading this…In homes and hospitals and confinement across the world, friends and family will soon gather around to usher in the New Year, beautifully decorated tables filled with warm, scrumptious food and gifts to give. Blinking lighted trees with trimmed gold ribbons!
It is Christmas!!
However, this day will be nothing like holidays of the past for many people.
Broken hearted families who’ve lost loved ones will struggle to keep hope alive, Friends with terminal or life threatening illness will have to struggle to catch a glimpse of what a painless season without medication or treatment would be, Lonely but committed soldiers covered in the dust of battle will patrol foreign borders, fighting for what they believe in, while their families back home long for word of their safety.
The homeless will make their way to the nearest soup kitchen, hoping for a warm meal and a smiling face as so many celebrate this day of abundance.
For some, an empty place at the table will be a painful reminder of the loved one lost or a failed relationship.
A worried husband and dad will sit at the head of the table, wondering how he is going to tell his family that he just lost his job.
A wife, struggling with emotional turmoil of an unfulfilled marriage, a beautiful young lady, wondering if the joy of the season is worth celebrating due to rejection and loneliness.
A family with a child on the spectrum still waiting for a miracle. The list of wounded hearts and unmet needs is brutal.
So, tell me, how do you create or find time to rebuild after you lose someone to death, ailment or disagreement? In all my 6 years of surviving thatcancer, I have continuously struggled with the changes that’s taken over my body, my mind and my perception about life and people. I had to crave the urge to keep hoping for a fruitful life; medication, treatment and all by creating time for people in need!
For others, it is still denial of what they can’t understand and are still refusing to accept. That there could be hope because God says so, that we could still find joy and happiness even while going through that phase in life.
How do you intend to help someone going through all these the few days remaining in 2016? Would we rather patronize the needy by dropping by a shelter to suit your conscience? Send text messages or gifts when really your voice of encouragement is what they need? Label them as unfit or dying when really only God can dictate that journey! Hmm.
What gives us hope today? Even with friends and loved ones dying or shutting down around us, how do we comfort them?
You see, when we convince ourselves that life will be better when we have more money, when we find the right mate, when we get the kids raised or build the right house. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we buy a nicer car, when we get that promotion, when we are able to go on our dream vacation or when we retire.
We keep trying to find joy, contentment and peace in lifeless places and useless things. When really, we just need to be more thankful for being alive and seek the real meaning behind the lights on the Christmas trees, it’s not about the ornaments or the beautiful wrapped up gifts! Or the beautiful glittering ribbons.
It is about building HOPE for tomorrow! and why we need to celebrate life more…especially with those going through tough time this season.
And because I witnessed my parents come out alive of that ghastly car accident at Bar-beach that had the next day newspaper headlines as “Miracle on the Beach” I certainly have no choice but to keep trusting and hoping in God even as my own strength and flesh falter sometimes!
Because I-have-been-there-with-you, on both sides…I know the feeling of a blurry future when sickness knocks or when a loved one is lost or when we lose a pregnancy/baby…the vacuum is so uncomfortably evident and can never be filled!
I am hoping someone reading this will allow their heart to beat again after a loss.
Let’s spread the love of Christmas by bringing HOPE to someone really in need of affection today and comfort the weak at heart more.
To all those we lost in 2016. Let’s be rest assured that the peace the birth of Christ brings this season is surely abiding with them.
Yours in HOPE! As I share David Gokey’s ‘Tell Your Heart To Beat Again’