06 Sep Introducing World Jollof Rice Day
As West African’s, we all love a steaming hot plate of Jollof Rice – well, most of us do! For centuries we have eaten Jollof Rice in different ways, competed with each other as to who makes the best Jollof Rice (the famous Nigeria vs. Ghana debate) and now, we’ve created a day dedicated to the celebration of Jollof Rice!
But why is this combination of rice, onions, tomatoes and pepper so personal to us?
Well, for starters, Jollof Rice has been in our history since the Mid-13th century! The Jollof Empire was created within Senegal, Mali and Gambia before it eventually spread across West Africa. This alone has given us enough reason to love Jollof, fight about Jollof, experiment with Jollof and dedicate a day to Jollof!
Fast forwarding to the 19th Century, Penda Mbaye, a woman from St. Louis, changed the game for us! During a shortage of rice, Mbaye substituted rice for barley during a shortage and started to create combinations of fish, tomatoes and vegetables. Jollof Rice then spread across West Africa with the help of wonderful tradesmen, making the dish a national cuisine to several countries!
AND THEN CAME THE FAMOUS UNCLE BEN’S!
During the 1970s-80s, Jollof Rice became affiliated with Uncle Bens Rice as West Africa’s most famous imported brand of rice. Jollof Rice became the most common dish in nearly every West African household (we can’t debate that, can we?) and the games really began!
Over the past few years, there has been a serious rivalry between the Nigerian’s and the Ghanaians over who really invented Jollof Rice! The debate is still very much on going but the most ironic part is the fact that neither of them did!
While Ghanaians continue to argue that their Jollof Rice tastes better, Nigerian’s continue to disagree! But the two have actually joined forces once, when Jamie Oliver created “Jollof Rice”!
YES, Jamie Oliver made Jollof Rice without a Maggi Cube and a slice of lemon on the side!
Both Nigerians and Ghanaians took to Twitter to express what they saw as blasphemy, but Jamie definitely wasn’t the only one to face severe criticism. Tesco’s certainly felt the need to apologise when several Jollof Rice Ambassadors led an online protest to the supermarkets Jollof Rice recipe!
The West has definitely come to understand how personal Jollof Rice is to West African’s! But the cycle isn’t over yet because World Jollof Rice Day is now here as of 2015! Jollof Rice is our soul food, our history, our prime comforter and our first love. This blog is here to provide you, Jamie Oliver and Tesco’s with all the right recipes and information on Jollof Rice!
Not only will we be celebrating World Jollof Rice Day every year, we will be providing you with weekly anticipation leading up to the day, every week of the year.