Gyms and exercise are common nomenclatures that remind us of indoor and outdoor activities geared towards keeping the body fit. While some seek to satisfy medical recommendation, others are just for leisure. Either way, it helps the body shed unwanted weight and stay healthy. However, shifting the narrative from weight loss to weight gain, what comes to the mind? I guess a couple of sweet alternatives. Different folks adopt various diets and habits peculiar to them to achieve this goal.
A trip to South-eastern Nigeria unravels an exciting story about fattening homes tailored for young maidens particularly among the Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Kalabari, and Ibo ethnic groups. In this practice, young ladies scheduled for marriage are taken for fattening by their fiancés who pay huge sums of money to the fattening homes. The ladies are kept in seclusion from their families, friends and daily duties for a period ranging from 3 -6 months. While in the home, all they are allowed to do is eat, sleep and refresh. During this period, they are treated to varieties of sumptuous traditional meals whose menu is widened by several sea cuisines due to their proximity to the Atlantic.
Many decades ago, it was exclusively a marriage rite where suitors sponsored their would-be brides to be cared for in the homes and taught how to cook native dishes as well as how to care for their prospective husbands and make their marriage work under the tutelage of married women who have married off their daughters. When not sleeping, the brides are surrounded by a bevy of beautiful maidens who help them with their chores and after that engage them in light stretches as well as massage them with lotions and oil milled from plants. At the end of their stay in the home, they often gain weight, at least twice as much their previous weight. Their chubby look is often seen as a symbol of beauty, good fortune, wealth and desire. Upon completing of their time, their emergence from the home is often greeted with celebration as family members, prospective suitors and well-wishers watch them as they parade the arena in colourful attires that complement their new looks, tacitly commanding the admiration of the on-lookers.
Although the practice is now on a steady decline, in recent times, it has been broadened to accommodate ladies who are not necessarily espoused for marriage but crave for the adventure and fun the exercise presents. New menu, body treatments, and exercises have also been incorporated into the programme to match contemporary needs in a bid to make every participant savour the experience.
By Willy P
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