Jollof Rice War: Ghanaian Chefs to Battle Nigerians at AKWAABA African Travel Market 2017


Jollof Rice War! Rice is an important meal in West Africa. Unfortunately, most of it is imported. But this has not changed the flavours of rice in West Africa. Of all varieties of rice cooked and eaten in West Africa, Jollof Rice is the king.

It is so popular in Gambia [Benachin], Ghana and in Nigeria that the cold twitter #jollofwar came almost to big uproar when Richard Quest came to Nigeria in April.
Following the lingering controversies surrounding which West African country cooks the best Jollof rice, Akwaaba African Travel Market is organizing a one day Chef Challenge on the hospitality day of Akwaaba, a competition created to foster Culinary Tourism in Nigeria.

As part of the event, a final resolution to the Jollof Rice uproar between the two West African countries [Ghana and Nigeria] will be staged and at the same time promoting culinary entertainment and tourism.
According to Hon Edmund Bartlett, minister of Tourism Jamaica ‘’gastronomy is the fastest reasons for people to travel.’’ The statement was in preparation for the United Nations Tourism World Organization [UNWTO] discussion on Gastronomy in Donostia, San Sebastian, Spain, from May 8-9, 2017.

The Gambian Tourism Authority will always serve Benachin at every Tourism Expo they attend. Likewise the Nigerian day at the World Travel Market in London under Otunba Runsewe at NTDC was a hit with the visitors because of the Nigerian ‘’Yellow Rice.’’
These countries, have always used Jollof Rice to boost the country’s Image and promote culinary tourism.

Joloff-RiceAccording to Julian Asher founder and managing director of Timeless Africa, at the World Travel Market Africa, held in Cape Town from April 19 to 21. ‘’The majority of travelers is more interested in authentic and local food experiences… Food is one of the few travel trends that cannot be experienced virtually or online. It remains very authentic and very real.” For same reason, Akwaaba African Travel market is introducing the Chef Challenge and Food Expo on the hospitality day to foster local food experiences amongst travelers and to promote culinary tourism and entertainment.

6 Ghanaian chefs from the Chefs Association will battle their Nigerian counterparts to a Jollof Rice contest for a grand prize.
An all-expense paid trip will be given to the grand winner and a title of the best Jollof Chef of 2017 at Akwaaba. Already, a leading Rice producer has promised to sponsor part of the event.

The chefs will be judged on –
*Preparation Art [Preparation acrobats would be an added advantage]
*Service Art
* Meal Taste
West African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal have always ascribed to themselves the originator of the red spices and tasty food called Jollof Rice.
According to a publication in Nigerian Guardian, Jollof rice has its roots in the Ancient Djolof empire.

Jolof riceMid-13th to End-15th century
Jolof Empire (also Djolof, Wolof), controlled parts of Senegal and the Gambia was established, as a vassal of the Mali Empire. It became a metropolitan power over the united federation of ‘coastal kingdoms’ – Waalo, Kayor, Baol, Sine and Kingdom of Saloum. At that time, the region – from the Gambia River to Liberia was also known as the Grain or Rice coast because rice, millet and other grains were farmed on the banks of the Senegal River. Judith A. Carney in her book, ‘Black Rice, The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas’ writes of the Senegal River as being an established Portuguese trading port – tomatoes, spices and other ‘foreign’ produce & products would have been available.

19th Century
Oral tradition calls Penda Mbaye – a woman from Saint Louis – the birth mother of Thieboudienne, thus Jollof rice. Penda, a cook at the colonial governor’s residence lived near the Senegal river delta where foreign produce was abundant. Apparently, she substituted rice for barley during a shortage, creating a flavourful combination of fish and vegetables with tomatoes. Eventually Thieb became a favored dish across Senegal and was elevated to national dish status. James McCann in his book, ‘Stirring the Pot’ postulates that Jollof rice spread across West Africa with the Djula people, tradesmen from the historic Mali empire who traversed borders and countries, making a mark on local culture

1970s – 1980s
Jollof Rice becomes popular with ‘Uncle Ben’s’, an imported brand as the rice of choice. It also becomes the star of Sunday Lunch in homes and institutions around the country

In recent times, there has been rivalry between Ghana and Nigeria on who invented Jollof. According to a 2013 poll, Ghanians invented Jollof, 23% Senegal, 21% Nigeria, 12% Botswana. Botswana????? Do they even know Jollof Rice there? 5% Cameroon

October 2014
#Jollofgate – the controversial event of a British chef, Jamie Oliver putting his spin on Jollof. It drew outrage from ‘West Africans’ across the globe, uniting Ghanians and Nigerians alike.

August 2015
First World Jollof Rice Day Celebrated in honour of red rice. No one can say for sure how the date came about but it was celebrated in Nigeria by Etisalat, Kitchen Butterfly and a few others

Which country takes the grand prize for 2017? Let’s see!





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