We are a people with greatness embedded in the center of our beings, and with a love for several delicacies, from the different geo-political zones. We like it fried, porridge, baked, sautéed, barbequed, roasted or any kind of soup. Nigeria remains a country with diverse tribes and different kind of dishes that have the empowering abilities to cause any lover of “belle first” to dive neck deep into that lagoon, not minding if that dish will end their lives or not. Anyone who is a self-acclaimed foodist or an entitled one will know how important it is to ‘guard that which is its own’ (abi na lie?). Nigerian food lovers always protect their delicacies with all jealousy.
Jollof rice is a one of its kind common dish in Western Africa. Its name is derived from the Wolof people of Senegal, and the Gambia, but Nigeria and Ghana have since come from a very debatable standpoint of being the ‘originators’ of the perfectly prepared version of this highly respected delicacy. Other countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Cameroon and Togo also consume this dish. As we all know, for a period, there has been ongoing social media war on “Which country prepares the best Jollof rice, Nigeria or Ghana?”. This doesn’t seem like it is going to stop anytime soon, if Jesus tarries. Nigerians are not willing to back down, as many foodists come up with several innovative ways to prepare and decorate the ‘Naija Jollof’ to catch the eye of the eater. In fact, some people hold this dish sacred. (Jesu egba wa o!) God help us.
As someone who loves to cook for myself, and for people, I have gotten to that point where I see people fight because of food or even fight to get their own portion of food. You can find this action take place in our regular wedding ceremonies or other open-air parties where the ‘public’ is invited. I have noticed that the most fought for food is the very popular firewood, well cooked, sauced and spiced jollof rice, garnished with a piece of fried chicken or beef. No one would want to give up on that, especially when the aroma from their neighbors’ plate hit their nostrils with all joyfulness, and awakening your tastebuds; making your mouth watery. Lol
Just last week friday, Richard Quest of CNN visited Lagos, Nigeria to anchor his programme Richard Quest means Business, and there was a brief Q and A session he had with our dear Minister of Information and Culture (I will not mention his name, before the ongoing war in my head will end because of a truthful lie…) who subconsciously decided in his mind to end an age long war when asked “Which country makes the most delicious Jollof rice in Africa?” . His answer was a tsunami! *Covers face* Someone once said that “that singular act is a treasonable felony, punishable under the Nigeria Jollof rice Act of 1960”, and I concurred that he should be punished without inviting professional whistle blowers to his rescue…
[Dramatic music playing in the background]
… Richard Quest went on to clarify in Act II, stating that he asked “which country did Jollof rice originate from” and the lie came rushing… I mean, what was dear Mr. Information and Culture Minister thinking? Did he realize how many people fainted in Nigeria, and how many Ghanaians threw a send-off party, while the Senegalese were caught off-guard? This in fact is a case of the popular belief that “A witch cried and a baby died last night”. This is an unpardonable sin; to betray Nigerians in the face of Jollof War II. A Lai-Lie may have just ended this war for nothing. This sweet war? Imagine American celebrities clamoring over the ever-so-tasteful NAIJA JOLLOF RICE! Three ‘gbosa’ for us jor!
Just recently, Aso’s wobbly rock came to the rescue of Nigerians, by stating that Nigerians can continue in the fight by holding the title “Nigerians cook the best Jollof rice in West Africa.” At least, this gave us hope that we are still title holders. I mean, who wouldn’t want to defend its own in the face of ‘best food’ chaos? For goodness sake, Jollof rice is a state of mind of the Nigerian majority. Everyone holds it to high esteem. Overlooking the garnishing of this dish and spelling the word with a small letter ‘j’ is a slap on the faces of a million and more Jollofists at home and in the diaspora. No Naija Jollof rice enthusiast will take this lightly (Ghanaians, take note. We are not smiling).
So, for everyone who had serious migraine after a truthful Lai-Lie almost ended this war, may you find budding reasons why you should keep defending your own, and keep fighting this war until the opponent bows out, hoisting the Jollofist white flag of peace. This is our ‘Jollofist Anthem’
I pledge to JOLLOF my best food
To be FAITHFUL, LOYAL and HONEST
To serve it HOT with all my heart
To DEFEND her uniting integrity
And UPHOLD her HONOR and TASTY GLORY
SO HELP ME GOD (to not LAI!)
Edwina Amakievi Aleme (Neofloetry)
Photo credit: dooneyskitchen.com