Notes from Nigerians

Domesticity; by force, by fire.

In Notes by Nigerians, we are looking at how life has changed; perhaps forever.

30 years ago, my mother singlehandedly started a catering business from scratch. With a degree in Industrial Science and Management from UNILAG, her job search was not forthcoming, so she started cooking for small groups and parties to make a living. This was in 1992. Fast-forward to 2020 and she is a household name in the Lagos catering industry. Her company handles events for clients in the thousands. She is quite literally a powerhouse that cannot be stopped.

That was until the COVID-19 crisis. Never had my mother been confined to the four corners of her home, unable to work, to be a mover and a shaker, to get things done. The lockdown means no one is having parties. And this means she has no work to do. You cannot cook for ghosts. You definitely cannot cook for the dead. But you can still cook.  Raising four children whilst building and running a business from scratch is a Herculean effort. No one does it alone. It takes a village and for my family, it took two. We have always had help, family or someone else around. Iyayabo my nanny, was there when I was born and would not leave us until I turned 16. She made all my breakfasts, packed lunches and dinners at home. Her food was my normal. It was ironic how I hardly ate food from my mother’s pot, even if the whole of Lagos was eating it. The Lagos government issued the lockdown on the 29th of March. Today is the 8th of April and my mother has cooked for us everyday since. To the best of my memory, there has never been a time like this that my mother has personally fed us by her own hand. It is intriguing for me to watch her sprinkle spices, fry fish, stir stew, just for us. The spread of the selfish possession in my chest shocks me every time. My mother is finally cooking, just for me now.  

Mofiyinfoluwa Okupe is a young Nigerian woman studying law at Durham University with slim chances of practice.

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