Amala-Ewedu, Isi-Ewu, Tuwo-Sinkafa & Pounded-Yam Marketing
Written by Paul I. Adujie
New York, United States
Nigerians, too many, are consumers of every foreign concepts and theories; undiscerning consumers that is!
Do we ever stop to query these foreign concepts, theories and things? Where is our own originality? Are Nigerians mere lazy interlopers and sheepish followers of foreign leaders of thought, products and processes? What have we imposed on the world and what can we impose on the world beyond 419? We have nothing to give the world? We sure have so much to give, only if we care to contemplate and deliberate on what and how much to give the world
Some Nigerians would kill other Nigerians over religions, foreign religions no less! Foreign religions have taken pride of place over African religions and these foreign religions have extremists and fanatics as followers Christianity or Islam etc. Nigerians have not done a good business of exporting African religions. Africans actually had religion before the advent of colonialists and foreign cultures on the African continent. We receive everything, but, what do we send out in return? What is globalization if it is a one way traffic in which we are always the dumping ground for every idea and everything?
A good number of Nigerians, nay a majority of Nigerians are familiar with the cuisines above; I hope! Those Nigerians, who may not have eaten these foods, must at least have heard about them. But why have Nigerians failed collectively to delight the world with all or any of these essential Nigerian cuisines? What “enabling environments” do we need to showcase our foods and our cultures, our way of life to the world?
It is rather easy and simple to invite your friends and colleagues to Nigerian restaurants or homes and have them feast on Nigerian foods as well as simultaneously entertaining the foreign guests with music made by Nigerians. Some Nigerians frequently come across as though promoting the way of life in Nigeria, will have to wait, until every facets of life in Nigeria is perfect.
This will be the equivalent of saying that Nigerians will promote Nigerians foods, until Nigeria holds elections which will be certified by everyone, especially foreigners, as truly free and fair and truly democratic. Nigeria will not promote Nigerian attires, until technology in Nigeria is more advanced than it is in America, Japan and China combined! Shall we be rest assured then, that Nigerians will not promote Tuwo Sinkafa, until Nigeria builds a colony on the moon?
I honestly think that it is every Nigerian’s responsibility to teach the world how we Nigerians live. It should be the preoccupation of every Nigerian to teach the world what Nigerians do, apart from a devotion to democracy, free and fair elections and religious fanaticisms, of Christian and Islamic extremes. What do Nigerians do, outside of war, famine, chaos, disease and all the now “usual” devastated and unsustainable society image of Africans which is so common in the media and on the minds of many, worldwide?
There are births and deaths in Nigeria and all of Africa. We cook and we eat different foods in Nigeria. Whose permission do we need or require to introduce our foods to the world? All the several cuisines which I mentioned above are spectacularly delightful and I have had my very selective, very discriminating gourmet connoisseurship satiated with each and every one of these cuisines. Sadly though, these meals are not universally or globally available. How could there be a lack of demand and supply by items consumed by more than 140 million people and their friends on earth? Why cannot a five star hotel anywhere in the world give me pounded yam and egusi a la carte? Better yet, why cannot five star hotels serve pounded yam, ewedu, amala, isi ewu, tuwo sinkafa and pounded yams before their proud perfection of serving European and transcontinental foods in hotels right on the ground in Nigeria? Nigerian farmers and Nigerians in agriculture and food processing will benefit, if every cabbage, lettuce and burger does not have to be imported!
I am currently unaware of any major hotel, inside or outside of Nigeria which makes and serves Nigerian foods on demand. This is regardless of whether as standard fare, or on demand or upon special requests, by customers and or guests.
How many hotels, restaurants and airlines worldwide prepare and serve these cuisines and why not?
I live in New York City, a mini United Nations of a mega metropolis of a city! You can find pounded yam, but only cooked by Nigerian restaurants. Meanwhile, you can find Chinese foods cooked and sold, served by non-Chinese! And Cuban foods cooked and served by non-Cubans
Talking about the Chinese and Japanese foods! Who gave them “permission” to “compel” Americans and Nigerians too, to eat ethnic Chinese and Japanese foods? Who gave them the audacity, the temerity and boldness of confidence to promote their foods and their culture of Lomein and semi-raw fish to the world?
An urbane Nigerian can eat raw or semi-cooked fish or sushi, to prove his sophistication and assimilation or openness? Or eat escargot and fried frogs; why can’t the world spread the world towards Nigerian foods?
Nigerians do not have to have been part of the past, present or future government of Nigeria to take interest in promoting Nigerian culture, Nigerian foods, Nigerian clothes, in fact, Nigerian way of life, we do not need the permission or authorization from our government or any government for that matter!
Who authorized and consented to the Chinese and Japanese idea of eating with chopsticks instead of the Anglo-Saxon approved and preordained silver spoons?
Who refused to issue same authorizations to Nigerians and Africans? Who summarily decided that African cuisines would not be available at Hilton Hotels, Sheraton Hotels, Holiday Inns, the Waldorf Astoria, Wyndham, Hotels and even at Best Westerns and Motel 6?
What are the reasons hotels, restaurants, airlines big and small do not offer Nigerian, nay African foods? Could it be because, Nigerians, and other Africans never ask? I once purchased an electronic yam pounder which was made in Japan, and it cooked and pounded the yams well, like heh lehleh!
I take the view therefore, that some Japanese do know a thing or two about pounded yam or at the very least, the idea of marketing pounded yam processing to us the natives! What if Nigerians return the favor, by teaching the Japanese to eat pounded yam?
I genuinely believe that if Nigerians teach Arabs and Israelis how to eat pounded yam, Amala and Ewedu, Isi Ewu, Tuwo Sinkafa, and then relax as Nigerians do, peace between Arabs and Jews may finally no longer be a far fetched concept, it might actually be attained in our life time!
As a Nigerian, I cannot stomach the thought that world peace is delayed, because Nigerians have not had the confidence to market African foods to the world! And meanwhile, the entire world outside of Nigeria is missing out on the good fortune encapsulated and encrusted in tasting foods from different parts of Nigeria!
There are quite possibly, some Nigerians who believe that Nigerians and African foods are not second nature to non-Africans because of corruption, bad governments, lack of democracy, imperfect elections or because of malaria and Ebola or even AIDS! Not to mention the absence of technology and microwaves!
But when did China become the beacon and model of democratic governance; Elections in China, what elections perfect or imperfect? Or why exactly is the world not gobbling up African foods, especially the ones aforementioned above? What is so democratic about a Falafel? What is free and fair elections about a Gyro, Tacos, Guacamole and Kosher foods and the countries from which they originated?
There is no attempt here to repudiate and pillory democracies or free and fair elections, but instead, to make the point that Nigerians and Nigeria should not have to wait for perfection before introducing things palatable and Nigerian to the entire world, before the human race get used to no having out input or gets tired waiting for us to make the moves.
I can almost hear some people saying eating Nigerian or African foods will require some adjustments on the part of non Nigerians non Africans! But how have Nigerians and other Africans become accustomed to eating intercontinental foods? How many Nigerians asks or cares how sausages are made before they happily chomp it down into their guts?
How have Nigerians and Africans adjusted and adopted or acquired tastes for foods outside of the continental Africa food chain?
Or, better still, what is this thing; which makes it possible for Nigerians and other Africans to be so “adventure-some” regarding other peoples’ languages, foods, clothes, accents, religions and cultures and non Africans are somehow not equally-similarly “adventurous” with African religion, African languages, foods and African cultures?
What are the unstated excuses?