Today I made nsima.

As a science and history lover, the perfect elective was available for me this semester. I’m taking The History of Science and Math Thresholds, and currently we are learning about the hunter gatherers. My teacher assigned the class a capstone project for the section. He told us that we have to make something the hunter gatherers would eat, and I immediately thought of what the people of Malawi, Africa eat on a day-to-day basis (even if that meant me having to get up at 4 AM to make it). Nsima.

Nsima is basically a polenta, but with corn or cassava flour (I made mine with corn) rather than cornmeal. It is very bland because there is not a lot of salt added to the nsima. Cooking the nsima was very labor intensive, and my shoulders are sore to prove it. First you have to make a paste of the flour and nearly boiling water, but you cannot stop mixing it or else it will curdle; trust me on that, I had to restart three times. Then once you finish the paste you have to add it to the boiling water, but do not stop mixing, because, once again, it will curdle. Once you finally get the paste all mixed in, you can start to add the rest of your flour. I used about 7-9 cups of maize flour in 2 liters of water, and when I added that flour is when I gave myself my annual shoulder workout. I stood in front of the stove for 30 minutes mixing the pot of nsima which is the same thickness as liquid cement. I honestly thought my arms were going to fall off.

But forcing my self to get up at the crack of dawn to make nsima taught me a lot. I found a new respect that I have for the women of Malawi that have to get up to make that for their families every darn day. They have something that we as Americans, who can buy an $8 Chipotle burrito and complain about how they shorted you some guac, don’t; and that is relentlessness. They get up and make the same food every day for their families, and they are poor, yet they are still the happiest people on this planet. They make me want to strive to not be the greedy American that I am that gets annoyed when my Chick-fil-a fried are not salted properly.

As a Christian, we should be joyous in the things the LORD provides us, because He can take them away at any second. The Malawians have mastered that having little and being joyous thing, so I don’t see why we can’t use them as an example to follow. They have nothing but are relentless in everything they do, and that’s where we fall short. Give all to the God, not just what you pick and choose.

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  Mark 10:21 ESV

Even just this little experience taught me that even the simplest way of life can be more fulfilling than my flamboyant one, because at the end of the day when the LORD calls us home, we won’t need that extra guac. 🙂


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