Zikomo!- Riki Berglin

Posted on January 24, 2014



Making Nsima ns Chinsapo, Malawi, Africa

As I played with Tacondwa in the village of Chinsapo, in Malawi, Africa, her mom invited me to their humble home for lunch. It wasn’t the wonderful taste that keeps the moment so fresh in my mind; in fact, the taste was the worst part of the meal. It is the experience and memories that keep me longing to return to that lunchtime adventure.

Maybe it’s because I discovered a reality much different than my own as I stepped inside Tacondwa’s small village hit. As a sat of her couch stuffed with old straw, and failed miserably to sift an unfamiliar corn flour through a wooden frame with a simple mesh, I discovered that the world was much bigger than what I had previously believed. I wasn’t sure if my heart was breaking or if I was enjoying myself as I choked on the smoke filling the even smaller brick kitchen hut next door. A kitchen that consisted of nothing but a dented metal bowl sitting on top of three uneven rocks with leaves burning underneath. As I sat upon a homemade brick and stirred the nsima, my eyes burning and tearing up from the smoke, I lost my innocence.

One of Malawi’s poorest family was feeding my fellow full-on-snack Americans and me. The goopy white blob, slapped onto a cracked dirty plate, might have been the most plain tasteless meal I have ever eaten. As I picked off little pieces of the nsima with my fingers, and dipped it in the beans hoping to soak up even a tiny bit of flavor, I repeated “zikomo” to be sure my gratitude was expressed.

I learned the true meaning of generosity as I pretended to like the milky looking mush. To be generous is to give away what little you have with complete joy. I left that day wondering the next time Tacondwa and her family would eat, they had given us the meal that would have eased the hunger pains that keep them up at night in their beautiful home.

Posted in: Student Posts