Author: Dz. Chris Worla Essikpe

No. Pronounce it 'Veetameen bae'. Have you managed? Great. It's French. Now let me tell you what it is.
VITAMINE B, was a local delicacy for us, growing up along the Aflao-Lome border in the early 90s. It was a special porridge made from cassava starch (tapioca), and served with condensed milk. It was sold by young women from either side of the border. To attract their patrons, the young women had a special way of calling... Vee-taaa-meen-baeee!!!. Their voices were tweaked to high pitch soprano. Quite exciting to listen to. 

Their value proposition was that the porridge gave vitamin B, hence the name.

As kids, we saw how the young adults enjoyed this in the evenings, and we'd do anything to have some. We saved a part of our pocket money or we ran some errands for which we were paid. We dodged lessons, crossed the border to the Lomé side, popularly known as Édẽndzi, to help women who bought 'dɔkugbĩ' (turkey tail/ choofi) carry them across to Aflao. It was a contraband item at the time, but as kids in school uniform, we were less scrutinized, so we concealed the product in black polythene bags and stuck them under our shirts. For every successful crossing, we made 'kponɔ' (25cfa) or 'biéwo' (50cfa), depending on the quantity we carried. That was enough for VITAMINE B with condensed milk for two evenings.

That was how much risk we took; skipping classes and breaking anti-smuggling laws, just to satisfy the craving of our tongues.

How much risk are we willing to take today for the salvation of others or to even safeguard our Christian identity in the midst of a chaotic world? 

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" ~ Matthew 16:24NKJV

We like to play safe. Let us tell ourselves some truth; practical Christianity is a journey of absolute sacrifice; the sacrifice of things we hold so dear; sacrifice for persons we owe nothing. It is denial; denial of the cravings of the flesh in order that we can meet God's standards. It is a tunnel of risk; risk of losing the self so we can gain our lives through Christ. It is a lonely walk. Loneliness is the price we must pay for saintliness. It is so lonely, we could become strangers to our brothers and alien to our mother's children (Psalm 69:8). We must not forget, we cannot carry a cross in company. 

But I am guilty. You're guilty. We're guilty. Our weakness is that we feel too much at home with the world. We have lost our pilgrim character in our attempt to achieve restful adjustment in the world. We have become an essential part of the very moral order against which we should be protesting. The world recognizes and accepts us for who we are. 

And that, dearly beloved, is the saddest thing that can be said about us. We're not lonely, but we're not saints either. 

Picture Credit: createwithnestle.ph
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