My ‘JJC’ days


Lol! The title of this story cracks me up. The word ‘JJC’ was quite popular amongst the Lagosians in my secondary school. It is acronym for ‘Johnny Just Come’, a term used to describe people who were new to the city of Lagos and who probably acted ‘funny’ when they saw some extraordinary things happening around them.

Well, after my graduation from the University, I decided to go to Lagos and finish up my French studies which I had been doing part-time as a student in the University of Nigeria, Enugu. I packed my bag, bid farewell to my parents and travelled to Lagos to join my elder siblings who were already living there, that was my second time of travelling to Lagos. The first time, my stay had been a brief two weeks most of which were spent indoors.

Anyway, when I arrived this time around, I settled in quickly and tried to get accustomed to life in Lagos. Then the culture shock began…

One of my elder sisters had just come back from the market and had bought ‘Ugu‘ the green leafy vegetable know as Spinach, used for making mouth watering dishes like Okro Soup, Edikang Ikong,  Egusi Soup, Ofeakwu etc. It turned out that the ‘Ugu‘ leaves had already been cut! Yes, it had been plucked and cut into tiny pieces in the market! I could not believe my eyes. My other sisters seemed unperturbed, meaning that they were accustomed to buying already cut ‘Ugu’ from the market. 

Whatever happened to buying the Ugu leaves in bunch, plucking them at home, cutting them and then washing them twice with salted water and rinsing them out, all done with uttermost carefulness as taught us by our mother?

Back in my parents house, my Mum taught us to practically revere vegetables. It was a taboo for sand to be tasted in any soup and one of the ways through which sand could get into soup was through the vegetables, if not washed properly. Thus we paid utmost attention while washing them.

I made up my mind to solemnly uphold my mother’s tradition and whenever I went to the market, I would buy the vegetables in a bunch and do all the processing at home by myself. I refused to be ‘lazy’ like the Lagosians.

Fast forward to eight years later…

I’m married with a kid and also working full time. I’m in my kitchen preparing Edikang Ikong the Calabar vegetable Soup delicacy and as I reach my hand to wash the Ugu leaves (plucked and cut in the market) the memories come flooding back. I burst into laughter at myself, I could not even remember when exactly I made the switch from being Mummy’s vegetable perfectionist to blending into the fast paced ‘Lagosian’ style.

Sometimes in life, we sweat the little things and resist changes which can be for our good and help us make progress. The fact that something does not fit into our well patterned lives or laid down traditions does not make it wrong. As long as change does not contradict God’s word concerning you, then embrace it by all means.