MY FIREWOOD FETCHING EXPERIENCE
The firewood fetching was held some metres away from where we logged for the FONDCUP 2021. On getting to the location where we were expected to carry out the task, the director, presenter and over three crew members were still setting up the camera. So, all the contestants started playing different types of local games. It was fun and also helped me to prepare my mind for the task ahead. We were addressed and asked to form two groups. I fell in group A; we were four in numbers. The instructions were passed to us by the presenter that we should go into a particular place that looks like a garden fenced with barbed wire and divided into two inside. She said we should go in there and make sure we fetch the firewood that would be enough to cook our traditional meal. She also told us that the person with the highest number of firewood would earn the highest point. We were given five minutes for the task.
Before the process commenced, I was thinking of how to fetch the firewood without a cutlass, but I sighted firewood that made me know I didn’t need a cutlass. I was relieved.
When the time came to begin the task, I ran into the garden searching hard for the firewood. I was initially nervous but in no time became focused and determined despite feeling tired and experiencing pains on my arms, where I placed the firewood. I endured the pain and picked as much firewood as possible. After the task, I found out I was the one with the highest firewood. I was happy. I looked for a rope to tie them together and also gave Miss Delta out of the rope to tie hers. We took a picture with our firewoods and carried it on my head to the place where we were to mold our traditional stove.
MY TRADITIONAL STOVE MAKING EXPERIENCE
The traditional stove making experience was a good learning experience for me, as I was exposed to something I had never practicalized before. Although I was surprised initially when we were told to mold our traditional stove.
Most of the traditional stoves I have seen requires placing three stones in a round format and leaving space to put the firewood.
So that faithful day, we were told to move to the hall, which is next to the building where we were logged for the Face of Niger Delta Cultural Pageant. I quickly put on something comfortable with my tags on and we moved straight to the building. On getting to the building the presenter, director, and some other crews members were already there.
Before we began the task, we were reminded of what we were there to do which is traditional stove making by the presenter. One of the crew members came to address us on the types of traditional stoves we have, which are the three stones, the curve shape, and the square shape. Immediately I preferred the three-stone stove. I decided to pick the three-stone stove because it is what am familiar with, and which I believed I might learn easiest when compared to the other types.
But before starting the stove-making process, the presenter addressed us, showing us where the clay soil for molding is placed, which was in sack bags placed behind us. Three buckets of water were also in the building with two small bowls to fetch the water from the buckets. On the floor where we were standing, nine places were already marked with a charcoal-like star sign and we were asked to take a position which we quickly did. The time limit to perform the task was an hour.
When the task fully began, we ran to the place where the bags were placed, I packed and placed them on my spot. I repeated the process until I had enough clay on the spot I chose. The next thing I did was using the small bowl to get water from the bucket, which I poured on the clay I had earlier packed. Then, I began molding the clay after mixing the water with it. I pressed and matched the soil with my hands to remove the hard particles in them. Thereafter, I began to mold in a round form. I molded the first and the second rounded clay and discovered the one left wouldn't be enough to mold the third. This made me rushed to the place where I got the clay soil. When I got there, I chose one of the bags that was almost empty, since it was little clay that was needed. Choosing other bags, which were full would have delayed me, as they were heavy, and they would take more time and energy in packing them. I lifted the bag that had little clay and took it to my spot. I poured the quantity I thought would be enough to complete the task and returned the remaining. Then, I looked and searched around for a bowl to fetch water, but my fellow contestants were using it. Looking around, I saw a plastic bottle which one of the crew members, Mr. Stanley, helped me to cut. I used the lower side of the bottle to get the water. At this time I was nervous because we had few minutes left to complete the task. I used the bottle to fetch water, which I poured on the clay which had not been molded. I poured more than enough water on the clay soil, which forced me to get more clay to make it thick and less watery. After this, I began molding the third stone. After that, I moved back to that of the first and second to smoothen them. When it was time to smoothen the third one, I discovered it was getting wider and loosing its previous shape. I placed a bowl to gauge the space of my stove which I discovered was going to be too wide for my pot. I tried adjusting it, but it did not give me the shape I wanted. This time around I couldn’t scatter it, so I thought of another solution. Then I formed three different small stones on top of the ones I formed before but I make it detachable so I could place it anywhere to make the space smaller. Before I finished molding, I noticed some crew members and other contestants were laughing at me because of the small stones I mold on top. It surprised them when my improvisation achieved my desired result.
In conclusion, I was glad I molded the traditional stove successfully and within the time stipulated for us. I was faced with challenges but to the glory of God, I was able to overcome them. Finally, we were told to stand beside our traditional stove and take a picture of what we made. I was proud of my traditional stove.
MY TRADITIONAL MEAL EXPERIENCE
The traditional cooking meal was one of the tasks we were looking forward to because we believed there would be a surplus to eat and that the cooking experience would be excited. Also, we were anxious to test the effectiveness of our traditional stove. Preparations were made before the D-day. One of such preparations was to write and submit our cooking list which I did. Another preparation involved cleaning the building where the cooking task would be carried, which we did a day before the stated day.
The day for the cooking task finally came. After the catwalk class, we went straight to the dining to eat our breakfast. Thereafter, the chaperone came to us that we have five minutes to freshen up, dress, and move to the building where we molded our traditional stove; it was this building the traditional cooking task was to be done. We all hurried to freshen up and dress. I wore colorful leggings and a black top, with my wristwatch and the apron given to us.
We all moved to the building waiting for further instructions. Two tables were behind us; with one to our left and the other to our right. On one the utensils were arranged and on the other were ingredients. Before the cooking began, every contestant searched for some items that could easily light a fire. I searched for an empty red oil container, shaft, rubber, and some nylons because we were told we wouldn't be given kerosene.
After getting these lighting materials, the presenter came to address us. We were given two hours to complete the task. So we began, with cameras recording our tasks.
The first thing I did was select my pots and ingredients. Then I peeled my yam, arranged them in the pot, put water, and set fire on the traditional stove. Luckily enough for us, we were later given kerosene which aid the fire to come up more. I decided to cook the yam first so that I would have time to wash the ponmo (cow skin), vegetables, fish, and also grind pepper.
Before I finished preparation for my vegetable soup, the yam was ready. The plan was to make pounded yam and vegetable soup. Meanwhile, I washed the mortar and pestle. The mortal was small and I was not used to the pestle, as it was very small for pounding yam. To use them, I put small pieces of yam in the mortal. I sat on a bench close to my spot and used my legs to hold the mortal. This was stressful because I was feeling pains on my back while doing this, but I was able to pound it, and from it got two wraps of pounded yam. I put the remaining yam on a plate and covered it. Then I sparked the fire again, put my pot on it, and began my vegetable soup. By this time the hall was filled with smoke and my eyes were red and filled with water. I was also having a runny nose. It was not easy cooking with firewood. The fire gave me the challenge of constantly trying to keep from going off. I had to keep it burning with a packer and paper. I discovered my fire was better than some of my contestants. I even volunteered to assist Miss Delta with her fire because she was not able to prepare anything because of the fire. I continued with my soup preparation.
After preparing the soup, I discovered there was still enough time to pound the remaining yam in the pot. I placed the pot on the fire to boil a little. When I was satisfied, I pounded them and added them to the wraps of pounded yam I had earlier prepared. After that, I cleaned the utensils I used and tidied the place. I dished my food and placed it on the table arranged in front of us. I was glad my food looked nice and tasted good.