Prevalent Issues in Nigeria.

It was a sunny afternoon and someone had ruined my day when I decided to excuse myself to let out some steam because I do not find it necessary to exchange words with people who do not know when or when not to speak. This day for an unusual reason aroused my interest towards the prevalent issues that have been existing in this country even before my generation, although I am not one to indulge myself in political discussions and I do not want to sound critical of the Nigerian government because I am just a neutral fellow who believes in the good of the land.

Two important issues faced in Nigeria are Corruption and unemployment. Corruption has eaten deep like a cankerworm in Nigeria such that the very obvious ones claim to be the very innocent ones and that is what amazes me; when you have been cut red-handed but still deny being the one in the act.

“Corruption is authority plus monopoly minus transparency.”

-Unknown.

A thirsty man must quench his thirst by all means regardless of whom he has to trample upon to get even as small as a drop of water. Corruption is now resting at the foundation of Nigeria’s growth, a country positioned as 144th out of 177 countries measured in Corruption Perception Index. I remember during the start period of recession, people kept complaining about how everything was falling apart whereas there were others spending billions like pure water. Apart from the government eating more than a thief, our fellow citizens are also a part of this problem as you have traders selling sub-standard products or tripling prices so as to get double their profits while the pockets of their buyers are squeezed dry.

Regarding unemployment, it is really saddening to see young people who have spent part of their lives working hard to gain a degree roam the streets of Lagos and other states in Nigeria. People who are gainfully employed or are opportune to have a steady source of income claim that there is enough opportunity for everyone out there. Not that I do not agree but the fact is how many paying jobs can actually feed a family in Nigeria? The fault is not entirely on the government but also schools who fail to teach their students vocational skills that will make them worthy of a quality job.

Many Nigerian graduates did not learn good skills during their studies. They were busy reading only textbooks without knowing the applications of what they read.

 -The Nigerian Observer.

With this understanding that no matter how bad the issues get in Nigeria, there are people who make the best out of it so I say to myself, “why can’t I be part of the few enjoying wealth despite the state of the nation?” No matter how condescending the situation of Nigeria is, there are avenues created by private organisations or individuals to create opportunities for each class of its citizens such as SAED, an entrepreneurship avenue for Nigerian youths to learn one or more skills that will improve their chances out there in the labor market among others. As for Corruption being eradicated, it will take years as long as the stubborn flies keep going back to their shit.

Therefore, Nigeria is where it is today because of the government and its people because I believe if we can all rewire our mentalities and channel our goals and positivity towards the growth of this country without self-ambitions and satisfaction of selfish desires, this great country will finally attain the heights faster than it would in say 50 years. Photo Credit: Bibiana Ossai.

Bibiana Ossai ©

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Respect The Jollof…Appio Restaurant and Bar

Have you ever seen a fat kid clutch on to their candy when they play around other children who possibly love candy more than they do? Why do they do this? They are probably afraid that they may get mugged…and their candy stolen 🙂

That was how I felt walking to Appio; a Ghanaian restaurant and bar located on U Street; close to Howard University in Washington DC. I walked into the restaurant and it looked quite chaotic…and I wouldn’t say it in a bad way. It just looked unorganized with quite a number of college kids.

The university isn’t too far from the restaurant, so quite a few students do patronize this place.

At first sight, Appio did nothing for me, but it was a last minute decision we made to eat there and seeing as I had an early evening flight to catch back to my base, I had to just make do.

Sitting in Appio, I felt as though there was no effort put into the setting up of the restaurant. The chairs were just strewn about the place with tables so low, you would think it was designed for a kindergartner. I took one look at my tour guide and said “let’s give it a try, maybe their food is good.”

The waitress was prompt with coming to the table. She was a dark skinned beautiful girl with a lovely smile. She seemed to me as one of those people who smile through everything. That actually is what waitresses and waiters are supposed to do while on the job; wear a smile. Though difficult sometimes.

As usual, I wanted a Mojito, but they had none. Please African restaurants in DC and the rest of the world, please learn to make Mojitos na! Warris this? Abi una want make I carry my own Mojito for hand dey waka? The gods forbid! Anyway, I ordered the Black Margarita and my tour guide had just water. E come be like say we dey vex.

I decided to request for some water before my drink would have been made and I requested lemons with it, and the waitress brought the lemons on a tissue…would have been nice if the lemons were served in a saucer 🙂

Finally, the Margarita came and on tasting it, it tasted like Zobo! Zobo y’all! Zobo mixed with Tequila! You say?! How can you serve Sorrel tea as Black Margarita?

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The Elixir That is Palm Wine.

My memories of palm wine is both crazy and sweet at the same time.

First things first, what is Palm wine? It is pretty much an alcoholic drink created from the sap of different species of the palm tree. It’s also known by different names; depending on the continent/place where it is located. For example, the Cameroonians call it “Tombo.” And most Nigerians call it Palmy or Simply Palm wine.

Continue reading “The Elixir That is Palm Wine.”

Suya…The African Love For Meat.

We are about to have a Happy New year while serving up some Suya!  There is this universal love for Suya amongst Africans that just warms my heart. At first, I thought it was more of a Nigerian thing, until I started seeing Ghanians and Kenyans making suya.

Suya is a form African street food in form of a kebab which is seasoned with a blend of aromatic spices. The meat is seasoned with the spices; then grilled over an open flame. The meat, when done is usually crispy on the outside and tender/juicy on the inside with the spices infused into every grain of the meat.

Let me digress a bit here.

There is something about meat that seems to make the average African happy and giddy with joy. It is supernatural! Living in Nigeria for example, you could see people spending time at different  ‘joints(a small make shift restaurant that specializes in finger foods and alcohol). Individuals spend time with friends at these places; having what seems like a serious conversation about politics, soccer and sometimes marriage and religion. These conversations are usually done over bottles of beer and trays of meat. From peppered snails to Suya and roasted spicy chicken. You could see in these restaurants, different people from all walks of life. Men with their “babes” in tow, munching away at some type of peppered meat or chargrilled suya…smiling, love and laughter in the atmosphere with a good bottle of Heineken stirring their conversations.

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image…@homemademealsng on instagram
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image…@Afrolems on Instagram
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images…@Nigerianlazychef on instagram

Continue reading “Suya…The African Love For Meat.”

Nigerian Palm Oil Rice and Buying Nigeria (Iwuk Edesi)

There was a recent campaign for Nigerians to buy Nigerian. But if there is one thing to celebrate in Nigeria, it’s our agricultural sector.

Nigeria is rich in mineral resources, but we forget the gold mine we have in our agricultural resources.

One gold mine is the Ofada rice. To people in the diaspora, Ofada rice is gold. To a Nigerian Ofada rice is brown rice to others. Apart from the smell, it is very healthy as it is unpolished and full of fiber.

We as Nigerians, we take our resources for granted. Not only do we rely on oil, but we can rely greatly on agriculture.

The day I heard that Nigeria to imported tooth picks, I almost cried for my country. As many trees and timbers that we have, we are still importing tooth picks.

The Nigerian government, even with the production of various types of rice, continues to import other types of parboiled rice.

Not only must we fight corruption, but we must learn to put things in perspective. we must understand that our country can survive on agriculture too.

I saw a picture of a jollof sauce produced and packed by a Nigerian and a question was asked “would you buy this?” All the Nigerians on that thread vowed never to buy such sauces, but most would rather buy Ketchup made by Heinz. Nothing against Heinz, but if you can buy other condiments made by and in other countries; then you should be able to buy and grow Nigeria. In fact if I was a non-Nigerian on that thread, it would be difficult for me to eat anything Nigerian with the responses I read.

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Dambu Nama

With over 400 spoken languages, Nigeria is a country filled with different types of people from different walks of life. Currently, Nigeria is going through a lot. The exchange rate for the dollar is high and the whole country seems to be in a total chaos.

In the northern region, there is the group known as Boko haram slaughtering the citizens of Nigeria with reckless abandon. But through it all, we will find unity.

In the north and as well as in other regions of Nigeria, there are recipes that seem to have been extinct, but these days I see them being resurrected by different people.

I wish for a day when the country known as Nigeria will have peace and it’s people live in tranquility. A day when we would bond all regions through food.

Today we are visiting northern Nigeria.

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The Beauty Of The Efik People(Efere Afang )

Apart from the Igbo’s, if there’s any people more passionate about their culture, it’s the Efik people of Nigeria.

The Efik speaking people are made up of an ethnic group sitting along the Cross River estuary and the banks of the Calabar River in Nigeria. (efikusa.org)

The Efik culture emphasizes the respect of seniority and their food. In the Efik culture, stealing is frowned upon. It is also known that the Efik women as a sign of respect do not shake hands with men in public.

All Efik speaking people are seen as royalty/freeborn. It is also said that love is expressed better by the Efik women to their husbands/lovers through the art of cooking. It is said that once an Efik woman cooks for you, you never go back 🙂

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One Reason You Must Visit Cote D’Ivoire

A lot of times, some people think Africa is a country. Others think we speak one language(No, we don’t speak African). But the beautiful thing is, Africa is a continent. The second largest continent in the world. Africa has 54 countries and about 2000 languages. It also is actually one of the richest continents in the world. With minerals and natural resources like cocoa, coltan, Nikel, diamond and gold.

One of the countries in Africa, located on the Western part of the map and so rich in culture is Cote D’Ivoire…Also known as Ivory Coast…

Apart from the alluring French language, there are plenty other reasons why you must visit Cote D’Ivoire.

The music” says…Estelle…”the spontaneity, rythm, and dance moves are totally flavorful.

The local joints at night. It’s so lively with the music and people.” Olumide

The food, yes, but also the people, beaches. Assini and Asouinde are the beach resorts. Yamoussoukro has the Basilica of Our Lady of peace/Basilique Notre-Dame de la Paix(considered one of the wonders of the world by many) and the crocodile lake.” Mimi

One reason,  I would love to visit Ivory Coast is for the food. Not just any food, but for Attieke and fish. Attieke, also known as Acheke is actually a side dish made out of Cassava. Attieke to me is like Couscous, but only finer when it comes to the grain and a little sour when it comes to the taste.

To prepare Attieke, some cassava is peeled and grated; then mixed into previously fermented cassava. It is then left to ferment some more until the natural hydrocyanic acid content has disappears. The cassava is thereafter squeezed to remove the water content; then drained and dried. The attieke is ready to be be eaten; when the dried grains are steamed with warm water…

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Then & Now…

It was a cold morning on 19th October, 1896, some of the husbands and wives were already at the farm to check the crops that had been destroyed by the heavy rain that occurred so as to uproot and replant them, while the young ladies went to the stream to fetch water.

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Native Yam Pepper Soup(Ji Mmi’ri Oku)

Oh! the joys of growing up as a little girl with a mother whose joy was in making food with age old recipes. Native yam pepper soup was always a hit whenever my mother made it. She used to make it with all kinds of dry fish, crayfish and aromatics. My favorite part was always the yam; which mother cut into huge chunks. It was soft and usually had the taste of the pepper soup…And to eat this meal, you had to dip the yam in some oil and pepper; then chase it with the pepper soup. It was just jazzy!

Ji mmi’ri oku is literally interpreted in English as hot water and yam. It is medicinal especially for new mothers; as it is known to help heal the insides after child birth.

Speaking of child birth, Nigerians have different rituals for new mothers. For the Igbos, this dish is made immediately the mother has had her baby; and the earlier she starts; the better for her stomach to heal. We also have another ritual where the woman is supposed to tie a big piece of cloth around her stomach to help keep the stomach flat. A good belly massage with hot water and a towel helps a great deal. She is also expected to sit only on hard surfaces for a few months to prevent her hips from spreading.

I remember after having my ajebutters, I had to eat ji mmi’ri oku; even if I didn’t want to observe other rituals. I like yam, so I didn’t really care. Even now; this meal is helpful in the curing of the flu, it helps with stomach upset and is a gives a great hug during the winter months. When I had my ajebutter1, my Aunty made me some and she had all kinds of aromatics, spices, stock fish and dry fish in the bowl. My brother served it to his visitors and it quite pissed me off! I was meant for me to heal…hiss lol

The healing properties of this meal comes from the spices and aromatics used. My favorite Nigerian spice is Ehuru and it is known to heal the stomach. As a matter of fact, I have used it for my upset stomach and it helpled to sooth it greatly. I actually made this pot for my ajebutter1 on the day she had a small stomach upset. She ate it all day and was playing by evening.  The uyayak pod is also a soother. Many a time, I have had a cold and I have made regular pepper soup with the uyayak pod and the ehuru and it has helped put me to sleep; to help me rest; as what you need when you have a cold is sleep and fluids. You’d be surprised what these little spices can do for your body. It’s no joke!

Recipe here:

1 small Nigerian yam tuber(peeled and washed)

1 large dry fish(washed and deboned)

8 ehuru seeds(Jamaican nut meg)

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Ehuru…Image credit…Funke Koleosho

one uyayak pod. Aka Aidan fruit (try breaking it into pieces, but not into a powder)

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uyayak pod. Image credit…1qfood platter

3 small African negro pepper i.e (uda)

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African negro pepper…Image credit…all Nigerian recipes

3 small habanero peppers(ata-rodo)

1/2 tbsp. crayfish

1/2 tsp dry chili powder

A hand full chopped scent leaves or basil

bouillon

salt to taste

salt

Method:

Roast the ehuru over open fire or toast it in a pan. Blend with the habanero pepper. (the scent is heavently)

Roast the negro pepper and remove the seeds by slightly crushing the pod.(do not blend into a powder…discard the seeds and use the slightly crushed pod in the soup)

Pour the peeled and washed yam into a pot. Pour water into the pot; until a little above the yam. Add all the seasonings except the dry fish and the scent leaves.

cook until the yam is tender. Remove the yam from the pot(this prevents the yam from over cooking); then add the dry fish and dry pepper.(if you need to add more water, you could do so at this point and adjust seasonings). Cook for a few more minutes. Add the scent leaves, check for seasonings and serve with yam, crushed habanero and palm oil.

What are your customs and traditions when it comes to meals like this? Please share with us in the comments 🙂