Growing up, Sunday was always a lovely day because my mum did the best cooking on Sundays. That was the only day we ate the tastiest jollof rice, it was the only day that coconut was added to the Jollof.
Jollof is so important to us in Africa. It is something that can bring out the best and the worst in people. There are stories that people have died arguing about who makes the best Jollof. That is, among Ghanaians, Gambians, Nigerians and Senegalese, who makes the best Jollof is something that can stir the worst parts of the souls. While it is known to create competition, fanatism, nationalism and some of the ‘isms’ that we are worried about, it is also known to be able to send people to "Odjuvwu" and that is my African word for Elysium if you would like to know.
There is this story about a single mother who took her two kids to church on Sunday. She worked as a nurse 6 days a week and Sunday was her only day off. That was her day to connect with her kids and give them a feel of the African culture. It would typically start by going to 11.00 am service in a Pentecostal Church that was about 45-minutes drive from home.
One Sunday, the church was unusually delayed because the pastor was praying for the unmarried women in church to find husbands. She did have a husband but that is another story. The pastor was listing all the things men want, which included Jollof rice and he did not fail to point out an inadmissible phrase from Africa that "the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach". A service that normally lasts 90 minutes took another 45 minutes. By the time, she got into the car with the kids it was 1.20 pm. The kids were hungry, and she knew it. She felt a spiritual connection with what was being preached because having kids and having a husband is the same thing to her. You have to handle them with care and like kids.
During the 45-minute drive home, the kids lost their cool especially after passing through so many pizza joints on the way. She was determined to keep the Sunday jollof tradition going so she did not flinch. Luckily, before the frenzy escalated into a full-blown fight, they got home and walked into their very modest apartment building, briskly.
Once inside, she offered the kids some fruit juice and left-over muffins to hold them off and raced off inside the kitchen to make them her famed Jollof rice. She had hoped that the her good cooking would be enough to help her keep her husband forever. It worked for a while until an unfortunate incident happened...
By the time she finished cutting the onions and bell peppers, the kids had already rekindled their drama. She hadn’t even cut the tomatoes yet, and cooking while separating a fight between Idowu and Emeka is neck-snipingly frustrating. As a nurse, you always have to improvise when you are pushed into a corner.
So, she she reached for the Nerrido Tomato Stew in her pantry and poured it straight into the half-cooked rice. She then cut some salmon into small pieces and rolled them into the pot of rice. Voila! Food was ready in 10 mins.
The kids had already gotten into an actual fight by the time she rushed the food to the dining table. The aroma of the Nerrido Tomato Stew quickly filled the room and before she knew it the kids had already climbed into their chairs, and ready for the chow.
After, they stuffed themselves the next thing she noticed was that the kids were sleeping. So she went to bed too. An afternoon nap is the best gift for a hardworking mother and having no husband to bother you could be a blessing in disguise.
This should have been a story of how Jollof rice saved a family on Sunday but Nerrido Tomato Stew was the real saver.