For decades, both parties have viciously engaged in the luxury of shades and the tranquilizing drug of memes. We’ve watched them panting and sweating it out. Mouths have either hung loose in despair or pleasure. Peace treaties have failed and left tongues wagging. No victor no vanquished. Both countries have refused to give up. They can’t take it anymore. The Jollof Wars are here. The Pots Awaken! For how long will the Jollof Wars go on?
A popular veteran Nigerian singer once sang in Yoruba:
“Eni ri nkan he,
To fe ku pelu eo
Owo eni to ti sonu nko?”
Well, the song literally talks about, “Someone who happens to possess something, not willing to let go and even ready to die for it; what then should the person it got missing from do?” *Scratches head* I think this somehow describes the ongoing Jollof-shaming battle between Nigeria and Ghana. He he he!
It is no news that almighty Jollof Rice originated from the Wolof people of Senegal. Jollof Rice is also called Berachin meaning “one pot” in the Wolof language. It is a dish made of basic ingredients like rice, tomato, pepper, cooking oil, seasoning etc. The ingredients could be modified according to your taste. Jollof Rice has become quite popular in many West African countries and even outside the African continent. Jollof Rice is a delicious staple meal loved by many in Nigeria. Children dance when mummy cooks it. It is a must serve menu in Nigerian parties and no doubt Ghana. Still, I find it ridiculous that we are actually fighting over it. I try to understand why this dish is such a bone of contention between Nigeria and Ghana since it wasn’t invented by either.
Some months back, Senegal was unwittingly brought into the battle by Nigeria’s Information Minister Lai Mohammed. In response to CNN Richard Quest’s question as to which country makes the best Jollof Rice on his “Quest Means Business” Show in Lagos, the minister made a faux pas when his reply was Senegal. All hell was let loose across social media as Nigerians felt betrayed by their own. Memes flew across countries like witches on rampage seeking to draw blood. Even Quest “heard the shock across the country”; though he later clarified that the Minister must have misheard the question and thought he was being asked where Jollof Rice originated from. Phew! What a drama.
At this point I must say Nigeria and Ghana have a history of healthy competition, for instance when Chris Brown attributed the Azonto dance to Nigeria, Ghana was quick to set the records straight. When Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria and praised Nigeria Jollof, they were all over the moon smirking at their opponent. In the areas of football, movies and music we see a lot of these rivalries; yet at the same time we have witnessed a number of great collaborations in this regard, between the two countries.
The question is why can’t we also collaborate and tolerate each other’s Jollof? Why are we taking things so personal? Personally, I’m yet to taste any other Jollof aside’s Nigeria’s so I’m in no position to decide which is better. Though I’ve eaten the Ghanaian Kenkey and the peppery Shito with fried fish and it tasted nice. Many people who engage in this battle have not even eaten another country’s Jollof, yet they are ever ready to spend nights racking their brains to compose a pretty tweet to food-shame the other.
As much as we like to create humour through the Jollof Wars, I’d also like us to be sensitive, thread with caution and learn to accommodate each other’s culture and differences before it degenerates to something else. We can also channel this energy to develop our countries.
That said; let me tell you err, about my dream,
“I have a dream, oh I have a dream
That one day Nigeria and Ghana and
All countries warring over Jollof would
Unite and stand as one.
I have a dream today”.