Ghana is endowed with succulent dishes from all her regions. Blessed are those who brought the combination of beans, palm oil, plantain, gari and named it “Gɔbɛ”.
Gɔbɛ isn’t just a food; it’s a soul-saving tool with myriad of hidden lessons. But its ardent consumers don’t pay attention to it. For this reason we’d be unveiling to the populace all that their conscience is fed with as they consume gɔbɛ.
Patience: All gɔbɛ joints in Ghana are notably engulfed with long queues. It’s one of the food joints that its customers are hardly seen reneging (the habit of immediately leaving a long queue after joining). Everyone waits to be served, and their faces get beamed with smiles thereafter. This waiting period teaches ‘patience’.
In life, we can glean, that to have a joyful end one needs to be patient and steadfast. No matter how long the queue of struggle could be, it’d still get to one’s turn. That’s if one would be in the queue (doing what’s required) and doesn’t renege (give up) like they do while waiting to for their turn to buy gɔbɛ. “Be patient, surely God is with those who remain patient.” (Quran 8:46)
Eliminates Unnecessary rivalry: One secret about gɔbɛ is that it has no formula. There are those who prefer their gɔbɛ with frying oil. Others prefer it with palm oil and plenty gari. The gari too, some like it smooth or rough. We have those who go with beans, palm oil, plenty gari, and potatoes, etc. There’s not a single day consumers of gɔbɛ complain about why someone has bought a gɔbɛ in a certain style. Everyone keeps to his taste.
Reflecting to this alone, we can say that gɔbɛ eliminates unhealthy competition. The average Ghanaian gets swindled by the pump and glitter of his friends that they want to copy everything without staying original. But eating gɔbɛ gives a lesson that there are several routes to our destinations, only if we could decide and commit, we shall succeed.
Contentment: From the above, the next lesson found in eating gɔbɛ is contentment. You can’t be eating gɔbɛ and be ungrateful at the same time. When it matters to gɔbɛ, one is compelled to focus on his bowl of gɔbɛ, and not what others are consuming. If they want more plantain, it could be that his choice is more of gari, so that he could be well-fed. In all this he’d know that contentment doesn’t mean he should be too comfortable.
Strengthens Brotherhood Ties: Boys-boys team up on regular basis for it. They’d alert each other when “Daavi” (the gɔbɛ vendor) opens up for business. Lunch time, they don’t go alone; they ensure that everyone represents. This is the time they internalize the biblical scripture (Genesis 4:1-13) and thus shame Cain that they know how to “be their brother’s keeper”. Even people who’d meet at gɔbɛ joints for once become brothers in no time.
Enriches Empathy: In this part of our world when these three workers (doctors, farmers, and gɔbɛ vendors) go on strike the land shakes. It is of this reason the love for Daavi keeps growing within the hearts of the Ghanaian youth because she’s an essential service provider. And Daavi, too, has taken them (her customers) as a part of her progeny. Even if she’s in pain, she’d ensure that the gɔbɛ is made ready.
There have been instances when high profile people have had to recount how they survived at the university by the benevolence of a certain Daavi who offered them gɔbɛ for free when they were broke. Propitiously, they give back to Daavi because gɔbɛ abhors ungratefulness.
To you there who may have not tasted gɔbɛ, do so. Those who taste it regularly, know that gɔbɛ isn’t only there to help you keep head above water; it is also that it provides you with life-saving lessons. Know this, and know truth.
By Abdul Rahman Odoi