Kolanut Bite With The Elders

Sometimes in life, we feel as though we are on the cliff’s precipice. We have no idea where to go next or what to do next. We feel like we are stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find our way out. At moments like this, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. What do the elders do at those times? It was mind-blowing to have a pastor, a traditional African priest, and an Islamic cleric all emphasise the need for quiet, contemplative time to meditate during such a trying time.

Infobox: In Africa, the Kolanut is thought to be a disease preventative, but another of its most important use is as a metaphor for friendliness, respect and hospitality.

Meditation was required to boost memory or cognitive abilities.

The idea of meditation was articulated by two traditional African priests who are practitioners of Ifa, a Yoruba indigenous faith. Young Ifa priests are taught to meditate on the 256 Ifa texts. “Odu Ifa” is scriptural material for Yoruba traditional worshipers, just like the Bible, Koran, or Sanskrit (Buddhism). On the other hand, the Yoruba scripture is unique in that it was not written down in a book. Priests must memorise to remember. They said that these future young priests in training needed to spend time meditating to study “Odu Ifa.” The Ifa Worshipers were already aware that a sort of meditation was required to boost their memory or cognitive abilities.


Further consideration was given to religious dietary practices and recitation procedures to improve the trainees’ cognitive powers. This sacred nutritional practice is not a concoction but rather a mindful diet. According to the Yoruba traditional system, certain foods are banned (ewo) for particular persons. You may never know if you don’t make time to meditate or focus on the conditions surrounding you while you eat specific meals. The failure to observe and recognise the impact of different food on us might lead to a series of disasters that eventually overwhelm us and leave us feeling aimless. Apart from that, it is thought that paying close attention to what enters the body system helps to avoid illnesses. Today, western holistic practitioners refer to this as mindfulness and mindful eating. 

Meditation allows us to reflect, trace life events, take in our difficulties, and deconstruct them.

Our forebears practised dieting even before we gave it a name. There are many more valuable lessons from our forefathers if we are only modest enough to share a kola nut bite with the elders. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of knowledge. It’s a shame we don’t make use of this vast, intangible knowledge. While we keep sleeping, this gift of nature will soon be discovered by foreigners, rebranded and resold to us in gorgeous packaging. If that’s the only way to wake us up, so be it.  

I am Joana, a Nigerian-born Austrian-based entrepreneur and activist. Founded Joadre in 2012 and continue to develop content to engage and empower African SMEs.

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