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WATCH: Gen Z need ugali cooking lessons – Prof Oniang’o challenges

For many women, the ultimate dream entails growth, education, and ultimately, a fulfilling marriage.

Yet, amidst these aspirations, one question looms large; Can you cook a decent pot of ugali?

Ladies, the answer lies with you.

And for those who struggle to prepare this staple dish, Prof Ruth Oniang’o, an authority in Nutrition and Food Systems, offers a stern admonition.

Focusing on Millennials and Generation Z, Prof Oniang’o urges those lacking in culinary skills to seek remedial training in ugali preparation.

Also read: Watch: The love for ugali inspired a Burundian trader to relocate to Kenya

Drawing from her upbringing in the Western region, she recalls a time when a woman’s marriage prospects hinged on her ability to cook ugali.

Born in 1946, Prof Oniang’o reminisces, “In my tribe – the Luhya – a woman couldn’t marry until she mastered the art of ugali.”

The retired Professor, also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of the African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition, and Development (AJFAND), expressed her concerns in an exclusive interview with Nairobi News.

Also read: Why Homa Bay MP Peter Kaluma is fronting polygamy among Luos

She fears that the inability of the current generation to cook African cuisine poses challenges in marriage.

“We now have young generations already married, yet they can’t prepare ugali, muthokoi, or mukimo. These are our traditional foods,” she laments.

Muthokoi, originating from the Akamba community, consists of maize and pigeon peas, while Mukimo is a blend of maize, beans, and potatoes, all mashed together.

Ugali, a staple made from maize flour and water, completes the trio.

“We ought to initiate ugali lessons,” urges Prof Oniang’o.

Also read: Eliud Kipchoge’s simple diet: Mursik, ugali and beans

While she points fingers at the younger generation for their culinary deficiencies, Prof Oniang’o acknowledges the fault lies partly with the older generation.

“Traditionally, knowledge was passed down through generations. However, with modernization, we have lost that connection. We must rediscover our heritage and pass on our skills,” she explains.

“We must reclaim our identity and educate others about our traditions,” she adds.

Despite her critiques, Prof Oniang’o holds a deep affection for the younger generation.

She actively participates in the revival of 4-K Clubs in schools, where she trains students in agriculture and nutrition.