In one of the renowned tribes in Cameroon Nso the debate on the importance of the Gizzard and why it is consumed only by men has been a called for concern not only amongst the indigenes but also some anthropologists like Sally Chilver. This has instigated local researchers like Rev Fr Tatah Humphery Mbuy to challenge his tribesmen and women to come up with concrete reasons why the Gizzards hold too much weight than the liver. It should be worth nothing the two words when used in its local language “Lamnso” gives more meaning to them than in English.
A week later, the cook prepared a chicken meal according to the house menu. When the priest opened the dish at table, to his amazement, he saw only the gizzard and nothing else. He called in the cook again and asked for the fowl to which the cook answered, "I ate the other parts since you told me that only the Gizzard made the chicken". Was the cook wrong?”
Bongyong Fanso' a native of Nso Living in the UK offered some kind of explanation that possibly since the gizzard tastes different from every other part of the chicken, the men wanted to have an exclusive right over this part of the bird. Dr. Edwin Lukong another native of Nso also backed Bongyong's hypothesis and added that since the fowl was a bird for "ntangri" (sacrifice), and women were not active participants, they were even excluded from eating chicken. In fact, it is only in the recent past that women were allowed to eat the bird. In very traditional settings, even today, the elderly women of the compound, will refuse to eat fowl meat.
Sally Chilver gives a more thorough explanation to the treatment of the chicken gizzard: According to her, across the Cameroon Grassfields and beyond, it is taboo for a woman to eat a gizzard. In ordinary parlance it is a 'male thing' and, hence, it symbolizes honour. So when a woman slaughters a chicken, if the husband does not see the gizzard in his dish, he will reject the meal. The man can even beat his wife without sanction from society. If a woman is single, a widow or separated, she is supposed to give the gizzard to a man irrespective of the latter's age. But he must be a close relative or somebody she admires and respects. One of the beliefs which surround this practice is that any woman who eats a gizzard may lose her fertility. Men still uphold this cultural prohibition, even in the towns.
It is therefore amazing to see how something considered to be of less important in one culture could have a great impact on another.
By Shey Tatah (Wo Scandy)