by Henry Nii Dottey

July 5, 2017


THE ‘JOLLOF WAR’: SENEGAL REIGNS

For some, it is just a ridiculous subject. Somehow it has suddenly assumed a matter of pressing national importance. Which country has the best jollof rice in West Africa?

But now it is all settled. We no longer have to go find out whose is the best. Now we know who reigns. I mean the long-standing argument of whose jollof rice is the best. It is Senegal Jollof.
The debate was settled, at least for now, at the recently well-organized “Jollof War” by 3FM 92.7 from the Media General stable which also houses TV3, 3news.com, Onua FM 95.1, Connect FM in Takoradi and Akoma FM in Kumasi. It was a well-attended event which sought to once in a while settle who holds the bragging rights to a meal that no doubt stretches across West Africa touching millions of palettes.
It is widely believed that football unites people on the continent. But I bet jollof does unite West Africans. Truly there are those who pride themselves as the originators of jollof, the others who say they even have names of their towns as Wolof or jollof and still those who argue that they prepare the best of what is known today as JOLLOF.
According to the Vanguard of Nigeria, “Jollof rice is the food for our favourite national pastime- partying. To say no Nigerian party is complete without Jollof is to overstate an understatement. Most of it would not get eaten and would be abandoned in the dish along with the chicken bones, yet the hostess dares not serve it. The silent understanding of this is one of the idiosyncrasies all Nigerians have in common.
Secondly, it is in Nigeria that the word ‘Jollof’ has got connotations other than the common noun. Here Jollof is a metaphor for enjoyment and can be used interchangeably as both a verb or an abstract noun. When you tell a Nigerian you are ‘jollofing’, he and only he knows exactly what you are talking about.”
The quote above no doubt tells you that Omo Naija believes in the “killing” effect of jollof rice.

The question of who best prepares the meal has been the subject of a fierce dispute over the years particularly between the two countries. Recently social media was agog with it and since been intense till now. Jollof rice remains one of West Africa’s beloved staples – prepared with rice and spicy tomato sauce and meat.
Ghana and Nigeria have in recent times argued over which of the two countries stands tall or owns the bragging rights if you care, in preparing jollof rice and now there is no doubt why Ghanaian musician Sister Deborah made an emphatic statement opting for “Ghana Jollof”, in her song with the same title.
Personally, I have actually come across all three. But I love the taste of Ghana Jollof, especially the one prepared from somewhere you know with goat meat. Some prefer it with Chicken. But for this taste bud, goat reigns. But you see, my view does not count here, not the least.
As I was saying I have come across all three. Somehow the Senegal Jollof stands out with a unique brand of ingredients, mostly local herbs and super garnishing that makes your mouth water. A writer in the May 3rd, 2017 edition of the same Nigerian Vanguard confirms my belief saying: “Although Senegal Jollof is nothing to compare to Ghana jollof, it is fairly better than Nigeria jollof. Hahahahahahahahaha. I would like my jollof to be Ghanaian. Ghanaians are very creative when it comes to jollof. They innovate to outcompete. Our ‘Chinese African’ brothers, the Nigerians just wait to copy and paste. If you think I am hard on my Nigerian siblings, check out Sister Deborah – Ghana Jollof on YouTube. As for Senegal, their fate on the jollof debate has been settled.
For me, the insight of the organizers to put up the event was most revealing and rewarding. It was great fun and an opportunity for the various “factions” in the war to engage in a healthy “war”, with judges in tow to provide a fair assessment of which jollof rice was the best. So with three judges from across the world and guests from Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Gambia, and Senegal, they went ahead to assess each plate for what it was worth without knowing which country it belonged to and graded it. The grades were put together and Senegal emerged tops with 310 points. Ghana was second with 290 points and Nigeria third with 280 points.
Musical performances from Adina – “Too Late” and Eshun’s “ABC” was exhilarating as much as exciting pulling people to the dance floor and filming for an obvious social media posting. Real Pen Pencil, an orchestra artist was not left out of the fun as he took to ‘orchestrating’ some beautiful portraits.
Apart from providing a platform to put the debate to rest, it was a business opportunity for the various stakeholders in the food industry to rally around the event and show what they have towards the preparation of Jollof rice from a business standpoint.
Sedem Ofori, Head of Talk and productions at MG Radio described the event as most “useful and opportune as it put to rest the “jollof war”, at least for 2017.
“Looking at what Senegal put up, the judges were convinced that they had the best jollof rice along with the west coast.”
“For me, it settles the ‘jollof war’ between Ghana and Nigeria. We came second and Nigeria was third, or last?” Winston Amoah, host of the Super Morning Show intoned at the declaration of Senegal as the winner of “Jollof War 2017”. Indeed, he seemed to carry the view of many Ghanaians who seemed “satisfied” with Ghana’s second position ahead of Nigeria.
For Kojo Yankah, Media General Board Chairman described “Jollof War 2017” as a unique event that brings out the unifying strands of the people of the sub-region.
For now, perhaps we all have to fly to Senegal; go eat tasty, spicy Senegal wollof jollof, known for its unique characteristics for the rest of this year, till we see which country picks up “Jollof War 2018” trophy under the auspices of 3FM 92.7

GIDEON SACKITEY, ACCRA 3FM 92.7

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