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Environmental Heritage: Kwanmkwala and Esuba (fufu and soup) From the Bakossi Highlands
Category :- Environment Author :- By Nkeze Mirabel Tache 
Posted on August 1, 2019, 12:00 am

Oral lore holds that the Bakossi ethnic group was founded by a man called Ngoe. He was a hunter. He got married to a wife by name Sumediang. Their descendants founded the various clans which occupy lands in Kupe Muanenguba division and beyond in some parts of meme and Mungo divisions. The Bakossi people speak a Bantu language called Akose and are ethnically related to other Bantu people of the region such as the Bafaw, Bakundu, Balong, Bassossi, Mbo, Abo, Miamilo, Baneka, Muaneman, Muang, Barako, Bakaka, Babong, Balondo, Manehas, Bongkeng, and Bakem.

Bakossi land has two outstanding mountains: Mount Kupe and mount Muanenguba (which is also host to the legendary twin Muanenguba lakes, home to the endangered Goliath frog). These mountains are of volcanic origin. The slopes of these mountains are made up of mainly fertile volcanic soil, which is suitable for the cultivation of a wide range of both cash and food crops. In some places, they are interrupted with sandy, clay, loan and sedimentary soils which are also very good for crop production.

For ages the Bakossi have been known for their wisdom in traditional medicine. This knowledge is not unconnected to their environment. Just as on mount Fako, the rich volcanic soils of Kupe and Manenguba mountains have given rise to many medicinal plants. The sages of old learned the secrets of the curative properties these herbs, trees, and even animal parts which they transmitted to succeeding generations. Nowadays, the knowledge is still being transmitted through informal education.

It is this rich soil that has given the Bakossi people their much cherished kwanmkwala and esuba. Cocoyam are cultivated in the local farms. In urban centers some people grow cocoyam in gardens around their homes. Macabo cocoyam is of two types. We have the white and the red. The Bakossi use the white macabo cocoyam for their traditional meal. Most of the area is agricultural with major crop being cocoyam, cassava and some corn. The rich soils and good climate favor the growth of palms. Thus, palm wine is present and Kola nut is an important part of welcoming guests.

Beyond the Bakossi Lands

For ages, cocoyam has served as food for populations across the world. Cocoyam has better nutritional qualities than other root and tuber crops such as cassava and yam. With higher protein, vitamin and mineral. Cocoyam can also be used as food, while the leaves can be cooked as vegetable. Cocoyam can be consumed in different ways through roasting, cooking, frying, baking, pounding and milling. Cocoyam can also be processed into various food products used for industrial and culinary purposes. Africans usually blend cocoyam and use it as a thickener for baking and cooking soups such as oha soup and bitter leaf soup.

Cocoyam consists of a considerable amount of potassium, which enables healthy fluid transfers between organs and tissues throughout the body. It also plays and essential role in boosting the immune system. Vitamin c is found in cocoyam root, which helps the immune system to create white blood cells and that helps to defend the body from foreign pathogens and agents. Cocoyam also plays a vital role in digestion because it contains a high level of dietary fibre. Fibre is very important for supporting our gastrointestinal health. Further, it can help to prevent certain conditions like excess gas, cramping, bloating, constipation and even diarrhea. It also consists of vitamin B which is also known as thiamine and is a crucial vitamin for increasing focus, energy, fighting chronic stress, and preventing memory loss. Phosphorus, which is essential for both bone health as well as maintaining teeth and gum health, is present in cocoyam.

Apart from proper bowel movement dietary fibre can also help lower the chances of developing diabetes because it helps to regulate the release of insulin and glucose in the body. If you consume sufficient amount of cocoyam in your regular diet, then you can manage your glycemic level and lower your chances of developing diabetes. Furthermore, cocoyam leaves captain the isoleucine amino acid which is very essential to function our body and can be called as a good energy source because it contains essential amino acid. Cocoyam leaves boost the immune system because they contain vitamins C that your body needs. The antioxidant property of cocoyam leaves can fight cancer, and it kills the free radicals which are the reason for developing cancer cells.

Consuming cocoyam leaves also help to keep our eyes healthy because it contains a good amount of vitamin A. Many people are suffering from several digestive problems like constipation, diarrheal, etc. They don’t know that cocoyam leaves contain a higher amount of dietary fibre and this healthy property is very helpful to food digestion and absorption. More so, cocoyam leaves are cholesterol-free food, with less than 1% of harmful fat. So, cocoyam leaf is high in dietary fat and methionine which is very helpful to reduce the cholesterol from your body very effectively. But cocoyam leave has a very few amounts of fat and it has a good amount of protein. So, by the consumption of cocoyam leave, you can have the best diet to lose some weight. But as it has a proper amount of protein it also helps to gain muscle.

High blood pressure is a common problem nowadays, many people around the world are facing this problem. Blood pressure can be reduced by taking medicine but there are also natural ways like eating cocoyam leaves. Also, cocoyam leaves can be a supplement to make our bones and teeth stronger because cocoyam leaves contain calcium and phosphorus which is necessary to get strong teeth and bone. It helps to treat nicotine addiction, which is a very common problem in the whole world. There are so many people who are addicted to the nicotine, so if you consumed cocoyam leave is a good idea because it contains tyrosine amino acid which helps the people to reduce the addiction from nicotine.

Indeed, mankind owes it to the environment to protect it so that Mother Nature can continue to provide us with the means for survival that it has given over the ages.

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