“So, which aspect of journalism do you consider majoring someday?” friends, family and well-wishers have asked me times without number.
Oftentimes, I give them an answer that makes them turn to suggest to me that, perhaps, I must see the curer of sick heads.
“My ultimate aim is to be a war reporter [preferably with Aljazeera].”
“War reporter? And you consider marrying to raise a family? Solomon, please stop having this dream. You are too young for this,” a classmate back in Ghana Institute of Journalism once told me.
I fantasize at war reporters wearing their bulletproof vests and helmets giving live reports with the sound of gunshots in the background. It is no wonder at all that not long ago I contacted one of the world’s best journalists, Sharon Schmickle, for mentoring. Sharon has reported from the war front in Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries.
So, when I heard that one of Media General’s outlets, 3FM, was preparing grounds for war among Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal, one thing popped up in mind― a perfect opportunity to try my hands on war reporting!
Dubbed the 3FM Jollof War, the event slated for July 1, 2017, will have representatives of three countries cooking Jollof (a delicacy made from rice) to suit their home style― Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.
If you have followed discussions for some time now between Ghana and Nigeria, on social media, the food at the center of the impending war has been a bone of contention. Whether Ghana or Nigeria’s Jollof tastes better has been overly debated with musicians even singing on.
As though the war on whose Jollof tastes better is not enough, there’s yet another raging debate as to who really owns the ‘birthright’ of the famed Jollof?
Indeed, finding answers to these questions have been tricky as the changing colour of the chameleon. Historically, the origin of Jollof as one of West Africa’s most prominent cuisines has become another war on its own.
If what food and agriculture historian, James C. McCann, asserts is anything to go by, both Ghana and Nigeria stand the chance of losing the birthright of Jollof to the then Senegambia.
According to him, Senegambia was ruled by the Jolof Empire [also referred to as the Wollof Empire]. This empire could be credited with Jollof for its dominance in rice at the Upper Niger River. The name Jollof is said to have been derived from the Jolof/Wollof people.
However, I strongly believe that even if Professor Adu Boahen should come back to life and say we should heed to James C. McCann’s claim, Nigeria and Ghana will still contest this origin.
So, what does the present day Senegal make of this whole touting of “my Jollof is the best” by Ghana and Nigeria? Well, I do not know the plans Senegal has in stock ahead of July 1st. However, I hope it has, like North Korea, piled up some intercontinental ballistic missiles of aromatic ingredients to win the tongues of the distinguished judges for the event.
I must join the numerous Ghanaians, Nigerians and Senegalese out there who have expressed interest in 3FM’s Jollof War in thanking the organizers. Indeed, this day will truly vindicate the best cook among these three countries. Off to their country they would go bragging for a year only to return to face the likes of Togo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cameroon and Mali next year.
Lest I forget, on Tuesday, June 27, 2017, I celebrated my birthday and again was the question posed to me; “Where is the birthday party?” Well, I humbly invite you to the forecourt of TV3, Adesa We, Kanda in the Greater Accra region, to come wine and dine at the 3FM Jollof War event.
You do not require any ticket for entry. The event is ‘gate free.’ Should you come and yearn for more Jollof, just mention my name to the organizers that the birthday boy says, “MORE Jollof!”
Trying to call my cell phone might not be successful. I will be at the battle front rehearsing my dream of war reporting with two spoons in my hands scooping Jollof from all corners of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. Yes! Do not call for cease fire in this war.
Long live 3FM. Long live the cultural and culinary diversity of Africa.
By Solomon Mensah
The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy.