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Am in my late 60s which placed my birth in the first half of the 1950. Growing up I cannot remember rice, frozen chicken cooked or fried with imported vegetable oils as parts of our menus. Certainly I ate all the local varieties of rice, particularly the smaller grains then called “Alabere”. I admit that cooking it involved a laborious mandatory process of sifting the grains from stones but it is undeniable that the end product (sifted from stone) was so palatable, we often ate it without any stew but most of the time, we simply added the cooked rice to the stew of beans bought to go together with it. As for chicken, it was a rare treat eaten only during festive seasons but then in my adolescent years, our proteins were usually sourced from well-cooked vegetables invariably made with locust beans, half grounded pepper especially the green variant and onions (the leaves variant) “Alubosa Elewe” in dripping red oil, “Epo pupa.”

During Buhari’s first coming as military head of state when imported rice, frozen chicken and meat (of horses and camels) which the earlier administration of Murtala/Obasanjo allowed AS A TEMPORARY MEASURES to stem the tides of hunger brought about by the profligacy of the administration they succeded there was a louded public cry against the Buhari/Idiagbon which nausated by the corruption surrounding the importation of rice by the Shagari government stopped the rice importation and asking Nigerians to look inward to our traditional foods like yam, millet, corn, beans and guinea corn. I engaged my sister-in-law always railing against the government’s measures that took rice out of the Nigerians’ regular staples. She represented the views of most families then but I was convinced then as I am now that imported rice not being part of our original staples can remain banned forever.

It turned out that what has made imported rice popular wasn’t the price because our local variants then were much cheaper but because it was easier to cook like the present generations’ addiction to noddles and much more importantly eating imported rice conferred a kind of status symbol on the eaters and with many more innovations of it being fried and made jollof, it sealed the fates of our more nourishing traditional foods.

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When my children were born and being raised, I insisted on their being nurtured with beans, pap, yams and garri. In my household, ate rice which must go with beans and fried plantains ONLY ON SATURDAYS!!! For the remaining 6 days of the week, the family ate “Eba” albeit with plenty of vegetables and of course meat. A stupid campaign then of cassava and its by products being dangerous to human’s health was promptly dismissed by my wife who claimed that as an Ijebu born she was raised on Garri and Eba all through the 7 days a week. Today amongst the favourite meals of my children including the one in England are soaked garri to go with roasted groundnut ( a bottle of which was permanently available for us all as a family to entertain visitors and for the children to even put in their pockets to snack on in between meals) yams and beans.

I went to this length to provide a proof that Nigerians cannot be complaining of economic challenges and at the same time refused to be YOKED FROM IMPORTED RICE, FROZEN CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE OILS which as it has now been proven carry dangerous and often fatal health hazards and against which we have our more nourishing traditional foods like red palm oil for cooking and frying, yams, beans, millets, corns/maizes, and guinea corn. Perhaps more public sensitization campaigns by us EATING ONLY WHAT WE CAN GROW will help to drive the points home but I conclude with RICE ARE BASICALLY FOR THE CHINESE who use it not just as staple but also as cake and even wine. Nigerians that cannot do WITHOUT EATING RICE should learn to make do with our local varieties.


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