I first got the information about the purported plan of the Federal Government of Nigeria to ban the sale and widespread consumption of cowskin, popularly called Kpomo in local parlance via Twitter. I read a couple of reactions to the news but none stated the reason(s) for the proposed ban. I honestly thought its consumption had been linked to the dreaded Ebola virus disease, until I read the news in detail in the newspapers. The summary of the story is that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural development, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina believes that the hide and skin of cows will be more profitable for farmers and tanneries if they are tanned into leather and exported to earn foreign exchange as opposed to selling it to the general populace as food. I cannot knock the Minister of Agriculture for his hopefully noble desire to increase the earnings of our hardworking farmers and by extension growing the leather and tanning industry. But then again…
It is often said that Kpomo is the common man’s food, but I beg to differ slightly…Kpomo is everyone’s food. Both the rich and poor in Nigeria absolutely love their cowskin, the only difference is that the rich man has a variety of other alternatives to choose from should he decide to do away with Kpomo (haven’t I just tacitly agreed that Kpomo is the poor man’s food? Anyway let’s move on) while the poor man is stuck with the Hobson’s choice. Who in their right thinking mind bans the food of majority of the population? How can somebody wake up one day and decide to ban our precious, precious Kpomo? Who does that! The farmers are not complaining of low sales of cowskin, they didn’t ask for government intervention in this matter as far as I know, so what exactly is the problem? Placing a lid on the sale and consumption of Kpomo is not the solution to building the Tanning industry. What happened to increasing profitability by improving on the rearing of cattle to ensure there is enough hide and skin to cater for those who want to continue to consume their beloved cowskin as well as for the production of leather goods for exportation purposes. That way everybody is happy. Moreover, we all know that once something is banned in Nigeria, it automatically becomes big business with illegal trade developing as an aftermath of the ban.
Some have argued that Kpomo has no nutritional value (as if we don’t know), so since it does nothing good for the body, it can as well be put into much better use. True, Kpomo has no nutritional value, but it also hasn’t been discovered to be the cause of death or terminal illness of anybody. I read a piece where the writer stated (and rightly too) that brown Kpomo is usually subjected to plenty of heat and smoke in order to remove the fur from the skin before consumption which is bad for our health as it contains some hydrocarbons. My response to this is- this is Nigeria, we boil our foods into submission, we boil all diseases out of our food. As a matter of fact if there is anything we can be accused of it will be overcooking our food, so that argument really doesn’t hold water as far as I am concerned. Besides, there are several other foods which are smoked all the time and which haven’t been banned because of that. We also have the option of the white Kpomo which doesn’t require any form of heating before consumption and so if push comes to shove we the “Association of Kpomo Lovers” will stick with that.
Kpomo is a core component in the preparation of several soups in various cultures in Nigeria. The adventures of eating Amala and ewedu at our favorite buka will never be the same again without Kpomo as an aide to it. Imagine cooking Efo firo, Edikaikong or Afang soup without Kpomo as part of the essential ingredients! Life without Kpomo is empty and meaningless! It is the lifeline of any soup worthy of being eaten. Kpomo has done no one any wrong, Kpomo didn’t bring about the Ebola virus, Kpomo isn’t responsible for the Boko Haram menace, Kpomo hasn’t embezzled money, Kpomo is not the cause of our numerous problems in Nigeria, so the government should please leave our Kpomo alone!