Monday, November 03, 2008

Bat Invasion - Culinary Delights Part 1

Every day around 5pm, droves of fruit bats fly over my ‘hood heading north after spending the day in the centre of Accra around the 37 Military hospital. I really do not have a clue where these bats lodge for the night but aside from giving Accra an eerie gothic feel, they populate trees around the military hospital and occasionally pelt cars as well as pedestrians with their droppings.
If you pass through the 37 area during the day, you are likely to hear the eerie chatter of the bats..
The bats phenomenon has been around for years. Legend has it that these bats accompanied an ailing Akyem chief from a village in the Eastern region of Ghana when he was admitted to the hospital years ago. Unfortunately, the chief passed on but the bats are still waiting for him to be discharged so they can accompany him back home.Waiting for Godot. Over the years, there have been several attempts to drive away the bats.
The military launched an assault that involved shooting at them as well as chopping up trees in the area. Alas, all to no avail because the bats still prevail!

Don't get me wrong, bats are not hated by all Ghanaians, apparently they are quite the culinary delight for some people in our fair country especially in the hinterlands from which I hail. Apparently, bat soup is quite the South East Asian delicacy. Although I have never had the pleasure of indulging in bat soup and would be a little wary of some the zoonotic diseases bats may harbour, the sunset migration of these strange creatures yesterday afternoon got me thinking about a number of extraordinary culinary delights I have encountered. So, I think I will spend the week chronicling culinary delights and of course avoiding work.

Palau Style Bat soup - Polynesian Culinary Delights


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Very interesting, Abby. I almost wrote about them once, but you've done it so well here, I think it's put the subject to rest. I'll be looking out for part 2. Where did you get the Akim folklore from?

Maya said...

They are definitely a delight to some. One day when crawling through traffic at 37, a wounded bat began floatingly falling to the ground. As I frantically rolled up my window in fear it would land in my car, the trotro driver in front of me, stopped, got out of the van, grabbed the bat by its claws/feet(?) and continued driving!

Riko said...

Nice blog
(muy bien, por favor visite mi blog)
could you visit mine

thank you

posekyere said...

Love your blog.
Love this post.

The distance between me and the bat culinary delight is as close as the east is from the west.
The mere thought of feasting on one of these night raiders makes me want to be a vegetarian.

National Aquarium said...

Although we at the National Aquarium in Baltimore love bats, we do not consider them a tasty meal! However, we do have 5 of them hanging from our ceiling at out award winning Animal Planet Australia:Wild Extremes exhibit. We recently posted an article about our bats on our WATERlog. Feel free to leave your comments.

Abena said...

Thanks for all the comments:
Nana Yaw; This Akyem chief story appears to be some sort of urban folklore. I had heard it some years ago from a taxi-driver but most of my coworkers seem to know the same story. The funny thing is that no one can say
1. who this chief was
2. which Akyem state he was from (Kotoku, Bosome or Abuakwa) or
3. when this incident could have happened.
Definately an urban legend for sho'.
Maya: Sounds like the trotro driver enjoyed some hot bat soup that night! It is amazing how people would risk causing an accident chasing *free* food...
Riko: Muchas gracias por los sentimientos broken spanish ends here. I will check out your blog:)
Posekyere: I hear you...I agree that bat-feasting is certainly not on my agenda! I've been a pescatarian since 1 Jan 2004.
National Aquarium: Very Interesting to hear that you have 5 bats hanging out from your ceiling as part of the exhibition. If you want like 1000s to join the exhibit; you know where to find 'em! I will check out the WATERlog.

Maame Fante said...

Eugh I remember back when I used to live near the Military hospital. Driving through the area was a PITA. Loud squeaking from the bats was your welcome to the area, followed by a nice shower of Guano (bat droppings). Those were the days. I remember the soldiers tried shooting to scare them away several times. And you're right about them chopping down the trees. Fat load of good it did them n'est pas?

I have eaten some weird stuff in my life but never have I tried bat. I don't think I'd do it either. You'd have to force it down my throat or somehow manage to convince me it was something else.

Ah well...I wonder which chief they followed. Someone ought to tell them he's dead and gone so the poor things can stop sleeping in the sun. I heard they migrated from some caves nearby. Somewhere in the Shai Hills area. Me? I haven't visited said caves and till I see it or meet someone who's been there, I won't believe it.

Abena said...

Hey Maame Fante,
That's interesting about the caves. Maybe that's where they head to everyday. They pass over my house late afternoon like the horsemen of Rohan in LOTR II. Droppings Just so gross!