‘Ponmo’ is a delicacy in Nigeria and there is something so special about a dish of stew with ‘ponmo’ that is not just tender enough, but not too soft. If you’re wondering what this delicacy is, it is the skin of a cow, which goes through several stages of preparation before it’s ready for consumption. It is first smoked, then sun or oven dried, after which it is soaked in water for several days and then cleaned thoroughly. It is then boiled on fire before it is edible.
The truth about this chewy piece of almost-meat is that it has no nutritious value. Absolutely none. Actually, it’s just like chewing leather. For years we’ve heard that the continued consumption of ‘ponmo’ has not allowed our leather industry to develop the way it should and though we would dearly love to wear ‘made in Nigeria’ shoes and carry ‘made in Nigeria’ purses, we have to admit that our love for ‘ponmo’ is greater. Nigerians have found it very hard to give up.
However that might change really soon as the Nigerian Institute of Leather Science and Technology (NILEST) has warned that eating ‘ponmo’ could be dangerous to our health. The Director General of NILEST, Dr. Isuwa Adamu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that not only was consumption of ‘ponmo’ as a meat substitute dangerous, as the thing didn’t even have any nutritious value, but by eating it, we might inadvertently be eating an animal with skin disease. This is what he had to say:
“In fact, it is not advisable for you to consume ponmo in the sense that some of the animals killed and used for ponmo actually have skin diseases…Some of these skin diseases are such that boiling them ordinarily, may not kill the bacteria…Some of the animals because of the ailments that they have gone through, are sometimes treated by way of injection with chemicals…People don’t allow these chemicals to complete its cycle and be removed from the body; they sometimes go ahead to kill these animals…So, if you consume the ponmo, the tendency is that you are consuming the chemicals directly because the skin part of the animal retains most of the harmful substances…Remember your skin is the major protective organ of your body and your skin harbours so many of the harmful things that are supposed to penetrate into your body.’’
This is a serious issue. Like he said, the skin is the major protective organ of our body and it is our duty to protect it. Beyond that though, the thought of eating ponmo from a cow that had skin diseases… ugh. The thought is just disgusting! Still, is that enough to put you off ponmo forever?