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Tribute to Ah Nah-Shun-All treasure


My Mother of blessed memories told me dat de day ah was born, how ah gobbled down my first meal of Colostrum, earliest breast milk, how dat was not enough and ah ‘ball-down’ de place. Nanny, my Great-aunt, was pained when she heard my lick-rish cry, went in de kitchen, boiled ah pot ah Porridge, and wid ah baby-spoon she fed me till ah drop sleep; dat life saving meal was ‘Our-Root Starch’. Back in dem days “Pablum” was nice people ‘baby food’, but ‘Our-Root Starch’ was de ordinary man’s “infant Formula” in place of Breast Milk, or was used to help de baby adjust after weaning. ‘Our-Root Starch’ was part of my family Die-nasty, my mother, me, my two brothers, my sister and my five children, we all got started on dat Indigenous Baby Formula. Now-ah-days it’s so scarce, when ah get it is like ah delicacy.

Last week my daughter came home on vacation, but right away she picked up ah bug in her stomach, top and bottom non stop; infect-shun ah suppose. She reach Hospital, den bought ah whole load ah medicare-shun to no avail. Ah took her back to Mother Nature, yesterday ah hunted down de market foh ‘Our-Root Starch’ and made her some Pap. She called dis morning to say she was fine, and was going for her long awaited warm Sea bath.

But is there magic in ‘Our-Root Starch’? Does it have all dis talked about Therapeutic and Nutritious properties? Yes! Freddy Olliverre ah UWI Graduate in Agriculture, ah Farmer and former Manager of de Our-Root Association, undoubtedly de Authority on Our-Root in SVG, advises dat Our-Root, scientifically known as Maranta Arundinacea, is native to de West Indian Islands. From de “Soil to de Shelf” SVG’s ‘Our-Root Starch’ is one hundred percent “Organic food.” It grows and flourishes wid pen manure; de Rhizomes are harvested and sent to de factory foh grinding, soaked in Vats to separate de Starch from de Fibre or Bitty. De Fibre settles at de top and is skimmed off, dried and used to feed animals: cattle, sheep, goat and fowls. One wonders why can’t we use ‘Our-Root Fibre’ wid some of our dried fish, dried banana, Breadfruit and corn to produce ah Hell-t Animal Feed?

Now after separating de Fibre from de Starch, we are left wid ah layer dat is part starch, part Fibre called Modongo, new-tritiously rich in fibrous content, and those who know bout Modongo, would fight you down foh de smallest piece to mix wid flour and grated coconut to mek Modongo Bakes or Dough Boy. With de layer of Modongo removed, we down to de real Nah-Shun-All Treasure, de ‘Our-Root Starch’. Dis moist stuff is placed on strainers to dry and later becomes Our-Root Starch, ready foh de market. Yesterday ah paid $15. 00 foh ah pound and ah had to hunt all over de Market to find it.

Our-Root Starch, our National Treasure is ah cereal foh Baby and adults, also ah baby powder, especially when there is ah skin rash. It makes ah delicious dish of Coo-Coo or Fungi, eaten wid stew fish or best wid cray-fish. Freddy says dat when you wake up wid ah Hang-over, drink ah glass ah water wid two spoon full ah raw ‘Our-Root Starch’ and yuh good to go… back to de Rum Shop. Nah doubt him, Freddy is experienced in many things!

Me face lit-up when ah Google Our-Root and it said: “ De Caribbean island nation of SVG is de world’s largest grower of Our-Root and producer of Our-Root Flour…” Dat is ole time story, we uses to. Right now we producing Nothing! If yuh want to know what we producing? Listen de Talk Shows every morning, and Press Conferences, yuh will hear yuh Pry-minister cussing off Reporter Kenton Chance, and defending how and why he told “dis is my beloved son” to say: “My Daddy tell me don’t talk!” Yuh will hear talk about legal-lies-in and de criminal-lies-in Marry Warner. No word bout de 2000 acres of Bananas ULP promised two years ago! Nothing about “Our-Root” our Nah-shun-all Treasure, soon to be laid to rest! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.