Party jollof rice

Wilson Orhiunu

First Gentleman with Wilson Orhiunu

Email: Twitter: @Babawilly

A party without jollof rice, is that one too a party?

A feast is made for merry and for the vast majority of West Africans, there is only so far that nice music and drinks can go. At some point, guests want to be asked that question that is like Mozart to their ears: “white, fried or jollof?”

The answer is usually “jollof please.”

Some need moin moin to eat their jollof and would opt for fried or white rice in its absence.  Others need dodo (fried plantain) with their jollof rice and might get by with a banana if the dodo has run out.

A party that the dodo did not run out, is that one too a party?

One must mention that rare breed of Nigerian – the ones with rice allergies which can be distressing. After three spoons of jollof rice, they develop streaming eyes and noses which would make people around inquire if the pepper is too much.

A full-blown asthma attack may develop and suddenly paranoid family members start to accuse each other of poisoning. It is a sad thing to be told by your doctor the news. No more rice! The distraught patient asks how they would celebrate weddings, birthdays and parties for party sake if they cannot eat rice.

A Nigerian that cannot eat party jollof rice, is that one too a Nigerian?

The ability to consume rice is almost a legal requirement in Nigeria. The average Nigerian eats about 24.8kg of rice annually. As would be expected, some will love eating rice more than others. For some, it is an act of worship. They dream of rice all night and eat it all day.

Everyone is free to determine their nutritional destiny but one must always make provision for whatever appetites one decides to generate.

Take the Kenyans for instance who are the biggest tea drinkers in Africa and number four in the world. They are also the world’s third-largest producers of tea, so there is a balance.

The UK grows no tea but ranks at number 12 in the world tea drinkers’ league.  Through brands like Lipton and Tetley, UK businesses make a profit from the tea business and actually do better for themselves than the tea farmers.  No matter what you learn in school, once you live in the UK you slowly start to forget that cocoa, tea and coffee are not grown here because the really strong brands for these products are based in Europe.

The story is different in Nigeria where about seven million metric tonnes of rice is consumed annually with a local production of 2.7 million metric tonnes.  The shortfall is imported and costs the country about N1billion a day.

In just one month the proverbial 30 Billion leaves the “haccount”.

China and India love their rice and eat more of it than Nigerians but there are differences. Firstly, these countries know not the pleasures of party jollof rice and secondly, they grow what they eat and sell the rest to other countries, creating a lot of local jobs in the process.

Nigeria is very good with cassava. We make a lot of it and it is used to produce the staple food garri.

Yam production is not bad and could be increased. I wonder if Nigerians could go for a whole year without rice.

There are people who have been without electricity for one year and seem to be coping but take away their rice and they might become suicide bombers!  The cost of rice keeps going up and people just keep on buying it. Soon, things might fall apart because there is a limit to how much the average man can pay for a plate of rice.

Personally, I don’t trust rice too much. Is it not one of those plants that take up the arsenic in the surrounding soil? It is the government’s job to ensure that the arsenic content of rice does not exceed safe levels. Who wants poison in their party jollof rice?

And then there are all these rumours about fake foods everywhere on the internet.

Finally, rice is a carbohydrate and that means it is converted to sugar in the body. Most people over 40 years of age have no business eating more than six tablespoons of rice at a sitting yet many eat it by the pot-loads.

It might help to develop alternative recipes like party jollof eba or party jollof yam pottage. Other foodstuffs need to be glamorised and promoted till the local production of rice in Nigeria can meet and perhaps exceed the demand.

Hope springs eternal. I have a dream that one day in a thousand parties in Nigeria on a Saturday night, the plates of party jollof rice would all be alumni of our local farms. Standing side by side with moin moin and plantain locally sourced. I have a dream that the beef will be conflict-free on all Nigerian plates.

That rice will grow abundantly in the land as it does worldwide. Yes, rice is akin to a bronze medallist in the planting and cultivation Olympic finals.  Sugar cane and maize take gold and silver respectively.

What grows in China and India can grow in Nigeria. No shaking.

A country that cannot feed its population, is that one too a country?

P.S: Jollof rice was invented by aliens on Mars and sent down to Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria by 2pm on the second day of March 419 AD

It floated down in a bright giant space pot.  The Aliens then went on to supply Wakanda with Vibranium.

The rest is history, lies and deception.


  1. An Overview of the Nigerian Rice Economy by Prof ’Tunji Akande

Economic Analysis of Rice Consumption Patterns in Nigeria

  1. S. B. Fakayode 1*, O. A. Omotesho1, and A. E. Omoniwa1
  2. Agr. Sci. Tech. (2010) Vol. 12: 135-144