ACCRA — The flight attendant came down the aisle. Would you like something to drink?

One person responded briefly, Coke.

Diet Coke, said another.

It said something about the state of the world that before 9 AM, many considered soda an appropriate morning beverage.

But then again, this was the world where potatoes, in their most familiar form, were no longer hard and round fistfuls dug from roots but more fondly thin and crunchy, preserved in a bag.

And potatoes were not the only distant descendants.

Trees were better known to us in bright whites or creams, lined, and with options like wide- or college-ruled. Other trees were beloved not for their uniquely patterned leaves, shelter, and shade but for their bark–found in our homes as hardwood floors or shiplap, a pleasant surprise underneath dreaded carpet or rotted drywall.

Animals we love for their skins—-our leather bags and sleeper sofas, our fur coats, and oh, the ivory.

Some we can love no more.

The world’s natural salmon population has been literally hunted out of existence. Only its genetically modified replica remains for our seas, pantries, and saute pans.

For all we know, maybe those passengers are prophetic. Maybe we should begin savoring this newly beloved morning (and afternoon and dinner) beverage, Coke. Maybe not that far into the future, the coffee bean population, the grapes, the orange and fruit trees, the cows and goats, maybe they too will go the way of the salmon.

In this age, which alleges to be much advanced from the past, we neglect the very things our ancestors held dear.

Across the world, farmlands are shrinking. And everyday new houses are erected, yet people construct homes with no regard for where food is grown and harvested, how far a distance it needs to be transported, and how these conditions will affect the all-important, sometimes eye-widening or purse strangling, price.

Just decades ago, okra farms along with other fresh foods—-tomatoes, onions, and the like—-were in abundance in Accra. But with fewer and fewer people farming okra and other vegetables, prices for produce have risen dramatically.

Affluence is booming but so is hunger.

If this trend continues, with our concrete jungles outpacing farms and gardens, with more demand from a growing population of ever hungrier bellies and less output from fewer farmers, we will certainly replace our routines of buying from market women and fishermen to shopping at multinational chains, disguised with authentic African names of course.

The hands that move the chains desire to train our eyes and taste buds to accepting a world where trees are to be written upon with pens, homes are to house animal skins, and food and drink are to be produced in factories.

The flight attendant reaches me.

I guess, I will also have Coke.

In this moment, alone, I cannot change this course of the world. It takes a village to farm and feed the community.

3 COMMENTS

  1. If you’ve witnessed Accra change, you may have recognised the theme herein. Then again which city in Africa hasn’t been does transformed irresponsibly. And, on we much to accepting everything the ‘whiteman’ says and brings. Why? We don’t think? We can’t think? Coke?

    Our first responsibility is to house and feed ourselves and our children. We have failed that much even. We have to import Coke and Sprite to happy-up our own children. What a shame!

    Again, Nefetiti has put pen to paper in this exquisite and poetic rendering of the obvious. I could add nothing!

  2. What a command of the language! What command of thought and the performance of thought! Well done Nefetiti.

    Africa refuses to lead the world in anything. Even in morality – which we have plenty to boast of. Until we begin to believe that we are the only people to have kept the planet alive for more than 200,000 years of our existence we can’t reimagine ourselves as the saviors of this dying planet.

    Yes, the planet is dying. Fast. Quick. The West’s invention of Consumption is killing the planet!. Yes. Fast.

    Salmons as we knew them, are no more. The planet has lost more then 50 percent of its biodiversity. Even before that, white mercenaries managed to wipe out whole races of the Human Species from this planet. These people are destroyers. Their goal is nothing but to destroy. And, some don’t even know it. Like toddlers, they put their fingers in the fire like joke!

    Well, it has burned, and continues to burn. But the toddlers are not growing up. They keep imposing their backwardness and barbarism on everyone. Before Africa awakes, it will be over!!.

  3. It’s just unfortunate, really! Food made in a factory. Food made by a capitalist cannot possibly be food. Last year I read an article that said almost 8 percent of a brand of US cheese is cellulose – this is the stuff for making paper! 8 percent? That’s profit! But one we go preaching about the unfettered market and its advantages. Of course, the planet is dying. It’s already dead!

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