In what looks like an unbiased but a free atmosphere to display creativity, wits and talents, Gambia, took participants at the 2018 edition of the Akwaaba Africa Trade Market by surprise as the tiny West African country took away the crown as winner of the famed Jollof Rice Competition.
By that feat, Gambia has put its name in history as the country with the uncommon creativity to prepare the best jollof rice, a delicacy of rice and a mixture of ingredients with its origin in West Africa.
Senator Florence Ita Giwa, the chairperson of The Carnival Calabar and a promoter of African Cuisine, was the Special Guest at this year’s Jollof Rice Competition where in the presence of all, the delicacy took flight from Nigeria and found a conducive perch with the Gambians till the competition would come up again next year .
The culinary tourism contest which involved three West African countries of Nigeria, Ghana and The Gambia was keenly contested but Gambia had the day, with two other Nigerian chefs coming second and third..
Last year, 25 chefs from Ghana and Nigeria participated in the first edition of the competition.
All the chefs from the three countries that contested this year’s competition used ingredients they believed could make their jollof super and delicious but, unfortunately, Nigeria and Ghana could not lift the trophy.
The judges, in the bid to make the competition partial free were drawn from countries across the world, including Africa, except the West African countries. These judges attested to the goodness and tasty nature of the Gambian jollof, saying that their judgment was based on criteria including presentation, aroma, and taste.
It was confirmed that the Gambians had “a fine presentation and a better taste for their jollof as compared to that of Ghana and Nigeria.
It was further learnt that Gambia prepared its jollof rice without tomatoes but with mustard, fish and other ingredients, making it yellowish-white as compared to Ghana, who used tilapia, tomatoes and other ingredients to make its own attractive and tasty while giving it a reddish colour.
The Gambia Tourism Board had nominated Mrs. Ida Cham of Yabouy Home Cooking to represent the country for the competition that has again up the small African country on the scale of recognition in tourism.
However, the host country and the winner of last year’s jollof rice competition, Nigeria, put up a very impressive show at the three day event that showcased the glitters, the beautiful and the desirables in the African culture, tradition, fashion and styles.
Under the leadership of Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, Nigeria flag fly so high to catch the envy of participants from far and near as the national Council of Arts and Culture (NCAC) dominates the scene, showcasing Nigeria’s rich artworks, food and culture.
The Director General of NCAC, Otunba Runsewe shed the toga of the big boss to don that of a typical ‘homeboy’ as he demonstrated Nigerian hospitality and receptive nature as a means of drawing the visitors’ interest to the tourism allure of the country. His jovial, receptive, hospitable nature combined with his requisite height, good looks and enticing mien to draw thrills and ecstasy from the crowd each time he stepped out to drop a hint on the beauty of Nigeria and why the country is a must visit for fun seeking tourists across the world.
According to the DG Otunba Runsewe, Nigerians must project their rich culture in different manners, noting that our very rich Cuisine is worthy of global acclaim.
The President of the World Craft Council had once vowed that: “What we did in Russia at the World Cup showcasing Nigerian culture to the World would be the template for use to make the world fall in love with Nigeria and its rich culture.”
And true to his words, that is what Otunba Runsewe did and has been doing to lift Nigeria from the abyss of tourism irrelevance to the present state of awareness and global recognition.