AFANG (Gnetum africanum) – Hero ISHOLA OLATAYO
AFANG (Gnetum africanum)
Nigeria as a country is blessed with different tribes and culture. Blessed? Yes is the answer. Through may travels or accessing my travels, I always give kudos to my beautiful ladies in the East for their VEGETABLE SOUP PREPARATION WIZARDRY with upmost and exceptional skills. In short, they have the key that opens the locker to a man’s heart following the ancestral route; the BELLY or Stomach.
Afang has a local name called OKAZI. Okazi is a climbing leafy vegetable that belongs to the family Gnetaceae. It is prevalent in the tropical regions especially Nigeria, Congo, Gabon, Angola, Asia and South America. It is a non-seasonal, perennial plant that grows as new shoots from the section where the stem has been cut out or a rhizome. Okazi, Eru or Afang vine usually produces tiny flowers on maturity and the seeds have a resemblance with a drupe fruit. Okazi goes by different names example; in Congo it is called Fumbua, Koko; Nigerians call it Afang,Okazi, Ukazi; Cameroonians call it Okok, M’fumbua or Fumbua, Eru. Afang is not usually cultivated but it grows as a forest vine and the leaves are gathered as forest vegetable or Edikang ikong soup,Egusi soup, Oha soup est.
Afang is no exception to having many medicinal properties and health benefits. It is an excellent source of Aspartic Acid, Dietry fibre, Cysleine, Protein, Vitamins, Sodium, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Zinc, Manganesse, Potassium, Copper, Glutamic Acid, Leucine (this aid the production of growth hormone and lowers blood sugar) and essential Amino Acids(glutamic acid which acts as fuel to the brain) that are required in the body. Its stack of essential acids enables it to act as an alternative to energy source especially when the Carbohydrate metabolism is damaged due to glucogenesis (breaking down of glucose).
Afang can be used for treating Sore throats, Boils, Warts or Nausea, it can be eating raw to reduce menstrual pains and childbirth pain; here Tisane of a cut stem of Afang is used (as an analgesic). It is also used to treat enlarge spleen. The pedicle can be cut, crushed and mixed with soap for hair growth, the seed can be chewed raw to reduce excessive urination(for children that bed wet and are passed the age they ought to be doing so). Afang leave can be used to treat Goiter as it contains the right amount of iodine for proper function of thyroid gland. It also serves as an antidote for poison (so you can receive a medal for saving someone’s life without consulting anybody). It is used traditionally for treating children with measles. The seed of okazi can be used as fungicide for dressing wounds. The bark of Okazi can be used for producing fishing nets and ropes. If I didn’t know better I would say yet another Miracle tree at our disposal. But rather I would say this makes two.
I have tried to find the possible side effect of Okazi but yet to discover any in journals est. whether it has or not, this plant is of huge benefits to Nigerians and its encouraged to consume in any way we deem it fit. However, am not pointing out that it is complete replacement for the above examples of disease and so you should try to consult your doctor always and as I always emphasize that too much of anything is not good. Eat or consume responsibly.
HOW TO PREPARE AFANG
Although am not an expert in this field. Neither am I closely related to Efik tribe in Cross- River State, Nigeria. But I could simply put a spin to it and also would advice to visit the experts to pass their vegetable soup wizardry to you if you seek to know how to prepare it.
Recipe for Afang soup includes: Afang leaves; shred and pound, Water leave, pieces of beef, Cow skin, Dry fish, Stock fish Snail(optional), Dry Cray fish, Periwinkle, Shrimp, yellow pepper, Chilli powder, seasoning cubes, Palm oil and Salt to taste.
Wash the beef, periwinkle, Cow skin, Dry fish, Stock fish est. and place in a pot to boil with salt added, chilli powder and seasoning cubes.
Pound the Afang and water leaves till it is smooth in texture with the yellow pepper.
Add the blended dry cry fish, shrimp (optional) and more seasoning.
Pour the palm oil in to the stock and allow simmering for 2min.
Add water leave and immediately add pounded Afang leaves and stir.
Take it off the heat and allow the steam from the soup cook the vegetable.
Note: do not allow the vegetable to overcook so as to preserve the taste and its essence.
Well, you can come and join me as I devour my just prepared Afang soup with Semovita….
Source: Natural Diagnosis and Therapeutics by Dr Gilbert Ezengige, Interesting Facts About G.Africanum by Blessing Okpala
By Tayo Ishola