Fish is the signature delicacy of the Luo community. And for decades, its consumers have associated it with “good brains”. This belief is supported by the fact that the community boasts academic giants, who have excelled in various disciplines such as medicine, architecture and engineering.
According to Luo elders, the fish has to be eaten deliberately and methodically. For instance, the upper part of the gill bearing aquatic craniates is very nutritious and should be given to children.
The elders say previously, parents who ensured that their children ate the upper part of fish, performed well academically unlike the current generation that shuns it.
The upper part of the fish— referred to as the “bonnet”— includes the operculum, gills, nares and eyes.
According to Luo Council of Elders secretary general Mzee Adera Osawa, 84, in the past, the upper part was a preserve of children aged 10 and above.
He says it was an unwritten rule during meal times that children must eat the eyes, nares, brain and gills, which are rich in phosphorus, which is vital for brain formation.
“We insisted on this because it contributed to their sharpness and all those who fed on it performed well in national examinations during our time,” he said, adding that the current generation, which has shunned the upper part of the fish is doing badly in intellectual aptitude.
“Failure by parents to give children the bonnet has given birth to academic dwarfs in the region. This is manifested in national examination results,” he says.
“For many years, Luos were known as leaders in many subjects in school. Our children led in exams , but this has changed because of poor eating habits,” he said.
The octogenarian blames modern parents for failing to serve their children the upper part of the fish, adding that it is important for the children to be encouraged to eat it for their own good.
“It is ironical that parents, who are supposed to give their children nutritious food are the ones scrambling for the upper part…how do they expect their children to be bright in school? posed Osawa.
He says unless parents change the tried, tested and trusted tradition of serving the fish, the community’s current and future generations will be academic dwarfs.
“Parents should desist from eating the upper part of fish if they want a brighter future for their children,” he said.