This is the seed from the fruit of the Achi tree used as a thickener in the traditional Igbo soup called Ofe Achi, eaten with pounded yam or Gari .
The soup contains a variety of fish such as, Azụ Okpo (Catfish), Okporoko (Stockfish), Ugu Epupụpta (fluted Pumpkin leaves) Anu Ewu (Goat meat), Ayiya (Crayfish), and Mmanụ Akwụ (palm oil). The seed can be boiled or roasted and then peeled and ground to be mixed in to thicken the soup.
In our place (Isuikwuato L.G.A) this is a seed from a tree that anyone is able to pick from, during its season of ripening.
When we were young, during the day when you hear the ‘gbam’ sound of the ripened fruit dropping to the ground, we would all run and go and look for it to see where it fell and begin to gather the seeds and line them into cocoa yam stems, we would also do this with Ofo and Ukpo.
What was it like for you growing up? How would you describe the taste of this grounded seed?
Words by Ogoma Onwukanjo, Images by Obuineke Amaechi