In a humble town on Entebbe road called Namasuba is where I spent most of my mid childhood. A time, I feel reflected on family values and family issues vividly, effortlessly yet subconsciously. It is in this small town that I came to learn about toko-toko.
Toko-toko, mimicry of the sound of boiling food that in turn became a sound name of an old family reinforcing game.
In this game, you would know whose father was a wife beater, whose mother was strict, whose family was struggling, whose parents ate a lot, and whose family was close to perfect.
Gender sensitive; it was never a game of choice if we did not have males and females involved. We needed a father, please note, it was a must for him to be male. Short of this , we would turn to other games like kwepena, bulada, rope skipping among others.
The father was usually a replica of his own father at home. So we would tell whose father shopped and came home with groceries and we would know whose father gave the mother money to go and shop for groceries.
Often times, the game ended up sparking heated arguments when the acting mother would ask, “Taata why haven’t you left money for the groceries?” And taata would have to explain as to how he had not seen his taata leave money for groceries back home. Maama would then argue by saying but my taata leaves money for groceries and my maama goes to the market to shop. The rest of us would now take sides and give opinions on what our different parents did in addition to questions like, “wama have you ever seen your father going to the market?” “Are men even supposed to go to the market?”
The arguments were normally intense that at the end of it we would have a mother who would opt out of the game because our posturing father did not do things like her daddy back home.
The only uniting factor to this now tense game would be food. Cooking was the only chore that was undisputedly mummy’s role. As one big girl would now scream on top of all these squeaky tiny disagreeing voices, “Stopppppppp, okay let us just play toko-toko, mummy yafumba.” And every one screams a loud yes in agreement.
And yes, the blue band tins back then were metallic, so were the USA cooking oil tins and many house hold packed spices. The tins were cut and improvised as sauce pans. We would then steal little food portions from our different houses in turns.
Serving this toko-toko meal was a hard part in its right. Because there are families that served children first, while others served fathers first. Goodness Lord needed to have mercy on us. Of fathers wanting big portions in different dishes and children complaining because they felt cheated, was a rise of another squeaky wrangle. I had never seen a happy ending to this game.
I learnt later in life, perhaps people in relationships should be a little more understanding to their partners. How such a simple game that everyone happily chose to join ended in such a terrible mess because of our diverse family norms and upbringing was a lesson I would later use in life; to learn to tolerate people anyway.
Oh how attending the third Tokosa launch blew dust off my fond childhood memory. For the love of food, friends and family let us be at the Tokosa food festival this May.