A history lesson for my son : Remembering the Tomato sellers


Hmmm. We are having a history lesson this morning. I liked to think that I was showing my 6year old how tomatoes are sold in my motherland Nigeria (he loves hearing about Naija) when I set up this tomato stall this morning in the living room.

It got us all buzzing and talking about home- our history heritage and culture of the Nigerian people (sounds like the title of my GST 101 course in Abraka Thumbs up to all the Delsuites in the houseπŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ)

In reality, this was for my own benefit. I bought these tomatoes in the local market “Β£1 a bowl”.

However, for some reason, all I could think of was “abule” in Ajao estate (holla to all my estate geesπŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈ) and Mile 12- the Tomato depot I used to accompany my mummy to. Good old days.

As a child, I nursed many ambitions at different times. One of them was to be a tomato seller. I remember how I was always left amazed by the tomato picking, packing and shading skills some of the sellers had.

Woman: buy tomarr-to buy timati
Mummy: Elo ni tomato
Woman: Eleyi 10naira meta 25naira
Mummy: (pointing at the bigger ones and adding another pile) ati eleyi nko?
Woman: hmmm, emi o ta! Meta meta 30 naira
Mummy : jaale nko ( I loved the sound of that word jaale although funny enough in abraka (urhobo) we said bloπŸ‘ŠΒ at this point)
Woman: (nodding and looking distracted). Shey ofe ra ata rodo ?
Mummy : yes (can’t remember how it sounded in Yoruba)
The woman would at this point give my mum a good price. Then little me would stand waiting for this was the time when the best bit would start.
The bit that made me scream to “follow”mummy to market. ….

It was
1.The-nylon-bringing-out-moment followed by
2.The-packing-the-tomato-with-lightening-speed-moment then,
3.The-tying-the-bag-moment and finally
4.The-putting-it-in-my-mummy’s-bagco-super-sack-moment.

As mum made to leave to find where to grind the pepper, I would linger on dreamily as I watched the woman bring out a basin of Tomatoes and start arranging new ones on the dark table in a similar way to the one I did in my picture below ready for sale.

Mummy would then shout my name. Lauretta !!! (Because mummy never succumbed to calling me LauraπŸ˜€) come let’s go you silly girl!

Then I would be beside her wondering how the women did it? I loved it and I really wanted to sell tomatoes one day too.

These women and men who sell in our markets in Nigeria are not celebrated enough. They work so hard in the scorching heat to help provide this valuable service. No matter how rich or poor we are, without them we we would not eat. Someone has to do the job and please don’t laugh too much at having this ambition.

I just wish for a world where they and many others like them who sell staple foods around Nigeria especially would be looked after better. Some of my friends have done this job to survive in the past. I celebrate you. You share a piece of this history lesson that I provided to my boy today. You also have done what I never managed to achieve. Cheers to all the hardworking people out there 🍷

I forgot to say sorry to all the Yoruba people whose language I may have murdered up there….Ekepele Miss Shokunle…..in Lagbaja’s voiceπŸ˜€

Thank you for reading.