Friday, August 30, 2013

Labania Kopa

It had been an eventful month of Ramadan, to say the least. In fact it had been controversial. First there was the BKT Iftar greetings and court case shenanigan that followed. Then there was the makeshift canteen in the changing room for the non-muslim kids in the school and it's drama still playing out on the media, well towards the end of Eid even.

I remembered that Ramadan in Lamu a few years back. Lamu is a ancient town on the Kenyan coast with a muslim majority and everyday life is steep in Islam faith, practices and customs. It was a hot day. I was roaming within the maze of the old  Lamu stone town, wondering the life behind the doors and walls. I knocked on a wooden door heavily adorned with intricate carvings. There was  no answer so I pushed open the door and marched straight in for a bit of snooping around. 

To my surprise, what seemed empty and abandoned from the outside is actually a cozy family home inside. A mother was sitting on the living room floor with her daughter weaving flower garlands welcomed me in in Swahili with a big smile. She told me that the garlands would be used as hair accessories as well as fragrance for the lady. When I asked to look around her home, she gladly called in her nephew to show me around. When I came back to bid her farewell, seeing me drenched in sweat, she offered me a glass of water, even when her whole family was fasting. She even asked if I'd like cold water! She was so warm and welcoming, happily taking me, a total stranger, who could be an axe murderer into her home and offering me cold water while she observed her fast!

As I left, I noticed there were trays of some sort of palm-sized heart shape cookie basking under the sun in the court yard. Naturally I asked what were those. They were called labania kopa. If i remember correctly labania means the milk sweets and kopa means heart. She was making that for the coming Eid. I bought one from her. It was a kind of milk fudge, sweet and milky!

Remembering the encounter on that hot day, how I wish that my fellow countrymen can take heed from the Lamu mother,  having a big heart like her labania kopa, always sweet and warm, open and accepting as well as true to her own faith and respecting others.

Something to think about.

Hope it's not too late to wish everyone Eid Mubarak!

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