A heart has no title.

Sitting at the window with my hand resting on its sill

I am staring outside at the beauty of nature

This place is peaceful but out there is war

Man pitting war against his fellow

Women spiting each other

Power abused like codeine

Love, no place for it in a world that chooses to ignore it

Tearing kindness and chewing off innocent children

Our lands are decaying

Our culture becoming extinct.

Bibiana Ossai © 2017.

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 ©

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?

Continue reading “Respect The Jollof…Appio Restaurant and Bar”

Ji Akwukwo Nni (Yam and vegetable pottage)

In the whole of Africa, there is this predominant love for vegetables within its people. I will fast forward to Nigeria…

I grew up in a home with two Igbo parents. My mother, cooked and she doused everything with vegetables. As in, I sometimes had to beg her to remove my portion before her veggie magic. You would see an empty pot of Ogbono soup boiling away and when you returned back into the kitchen, she had pumpkin leaves all over the thing. And yes, you had to eat it or stay hungry. Except of course daddy said “give her something else to eat.” As his baby nunu hehehe.

Of all the meals mother made, her yam and veggies was one of my favorites. My mother usually made this dish on Saturdays. It was usually for breakfast or dinner. There was something ecstatically beautiful about biting into a piece of sweet white yam with sweet satisfaction. Then the taste of Palm oil intertwined…you’d have to taste some to understand.

Continue reading “Ji Akwukwo Nni (Yam and vegetable pottage)”

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.”

Health Benefits of Oha soup.

If you are a vegetarian or not, this Igbo soup is absolutely meant for you. It is sweet, nutritious and very easy to make. Oha soup is common in the eastern part of Nigeria and is known for how good it is in enhacing skin radiance and body health.

The ingredients needed in making this soup are the most important components of the soup, they are Oha leaves (as required), Cocao yam (15 to 20 medium sizes) or egusi seed (1 or 2 cups), Chicken, assorted, beef, goat meat, turkey, dry fish or mangala
Maggi (seasoning) 2 to 4 cubes, Crayfish (2 cups), handful of Uziza leaves ( although this is optional), 1 big Stock fish head, Palm oil 15 to 20 centilitres
0.2 cup of ofor or achi as an alternative thickener), Ogiri, salt and pepper to taste.

After getting the ingredients, the next process is to prepare the soup: Wash the cocoyam thoroughly with water to remove dirt and sand, then place in a pot, pour enough water to cover the cocoyam and boil until very tender. Peel off the brown back and pound with mortar and pestle. Blend your fresh pepper with crayfish and keep aside for later use. Pluck off the Uha leaves from the stem, wash it the same way you wash vegetable leaves then use kitchen knife to slice inti the size you want. The next step is to wash your meat clean, steam it with the necessary ingredients for few minutes until it is as soft as the way you desire it to be, while the meat is cooking add hot water into the bowl containing the dry fish and stock fish and allow to boil until tender. Add more (but small quantity of water into the pot of the cooked meat, red oil, blended crayfish and pepper, maggi and salt. Leave to boil; the soup will have taste even though it is watery then add the pounded coco yam or ground egusi (your choice) to serve as thickner. Also, add ogiri at this point. Stir and allow to melt before adding Uziza leaves and Oha leaves. Stir again and leave to boil for another 5 minutes.

images-1
Photo Credit: Ifeyinwa Nzeka/Food musings.

Your Oha soup is ready to be served with any kind of swallow (eba, wheat, semovita or fufu). Do not miss out on this very delicious Igbo soup and considering it is a new month, make it your February healthy African soup. For detailed information, visit http://allnigerianfoods.com/uha-soup or http://www.nigerianfoodtv.com/2013/12/how-to-cook-oha-soup-ora-ofe-oha-ora.html?m=1

Bibiana Ossai © 2016.

African Groundnut Stew…Senegalese Maafe

Maafe, a word from the Wolof tribe means sauce stew or soup. Maafe is simply Groundnut Stew. Although this dish originated with the Mandinka and Bambara people of Mali, It is a favorite dish among the people of Senegal and Gambia.

Even with this dish originally known to the Mali people, most Africans from other countries have perfected it to fit their style of cooking. So pretty much like Jollof rice created by the Wolof tribe of Senegal, it’s now prepared by most of Africa with their own unique methods. Even Nigeria has it’s own version with scent leaves.

This stew to me signifies richness galore, just like the continent of Africa. Rich and beautiful; filled with natural resources.

This goes to show that no matter how different we seem to be, we truly are all the same in some very unique way.

Without much ado about nothing…there is a recipe below

Ingredients
  • 1lb chicken
  • ½lb beef or smoked goat meat(you could use any smoked meat)
  • ½ lb stock fish
  • 1 large dry fish(optional)
  • 1medium sized onion(chopped)
  • 1minced garlic
  • 1inch grated ginger
  • 2 plum tomatoes(chopped)
  • 3 fingers of okra(it doesn’t have to be sliced)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tsps. tomato paste
  • 2½ cups meat stock or water
  • 2 tbsps. coconut or peanut oil
  • 1 handful spinach( very optional)
  • a few sprigs of cilantro or basil i.e scent leaves(optional)
  • Bouillon
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix 2 cups of stock with the peanut butter until smooth; then set aside.
  2. Wash your ,meats and pat them dry. season them with a little salt and set aside for about 10 minutes while you prepare your other ingredients(you could pre cook your meats if you want. Season with salt, onion, bouillon, chili pepper and cook)
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot, add the meats and stock fish; then brown them. Add the onions, and sauté with the meats; then add the garlic and ginger and sauté until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste for a few minutes; then add the plum tomatoes. Cook until almost reduced. Pour n the mixed peanut and stock and add the remaining half cup of stock.
  4. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat so that the soup comes to a low simmer. Cook for an hour or 45 minutes making sure that you stir occasionally to prevent burning. Once the oil floats to the top, stir in the okra and dry fish. Cook for about three minutes so that the okra does not get soggy;(it’s best to steam your okra separately and serve with the soup) then stir in the basil(if using), set aside and serve with any side.
Notes
If your soup is too thick, you could add some more stock. I like mine a little thick.
To make peanut butter, simply blend dry roasted peanuts in a food processor until smooth. You could add a little oil to smoothen(do not add too much)….Some people add very little honey(which is very optional; as I wouldn’t when it comes to making stew). I used already made peanut butter

Becoming Somebody II.

“We Will Rise” is a CNN film that showcases young women overcoming incredible odds to change their lives and do extraordinary things in their society. It is a mission by Michelle Obama, America’s first lady with the help of other strong women like CNN’s Isha Sesay, Meryl Streep and Freida Pointo. We Will Rise is one of the most compelling film-documentary that I watched in the last days of year 2016 and it made me realise that despite the fact Nigeria is evolving in so many great ways, there are a lot to be done to improve eradicate educational discrimination in some parts of the country.

Continue reading “Becoming Somebody II.”