How jollof rice is driving West Africans

Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal claim they make the best jollof prepared with rice and spicy stew.

The division is so real and uncompromising that you  could be called unpatriotic, if say, a Nigerian voted Ghana’s jollof as the best.

The only thing that is not in contention in the jollof war is the origin of the dish: Senegal and Gambia.


Jollof rice derives its name from the Wolof people of Senegal. Wolof is the lingua franca of Senegal and also spoken in some parts of Gambia.

The debate has often centred around who makes the best jollof and not the origin.

The variations in the preparation of the dish appears to be the main source of the controversy.

Celebrities, diplomats, government officials, food bloggers, sports men have all weighed in on the debate.

For instance, Nigeria’s Information Minister drew widespread criticism after he said Senegal makes the best jollof in response to a question he thought it was about the origin of the dish.


Ghanaian musician Sister Debroah has released a song casting insults and aspersions at jollof rice prepared in Nigeria.

She was given a reply by Nigerian singer Wizkid. According to him, Ghana's jollof was bad. "I love Nigerian Jollof 100 percent, but when I go to New York or I am in Ghana, my friend’s wife makes this crazy Ghana Jollof with some goat meat…it is bad!"

Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg during a visit to Nigeria made comments about the dish many Nigerians misinterpreted as an endorsement.

“Yesterday, I had jollof rice and shrimp. It was delicious, fantastic. I was told not to compare Nigeria's jollof rice to that from other neighbouring countries."

And when the former British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin, said Ghana’s makes the best jollof rice, it was enough for Ghanaians to claim victory over Nigeria.


"Ghanaian jollof rice. Which I especially enjoy telling Nigerian friends. The GH version is of course the superior one," Mr Benjamin said.

In a bid to settle the debate on who makes the best Jollof rice, Accra-based 3FM organised a jollof competition between Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal.

At the end of the cooking competition, Senegal won while Ghana and Nigeria came in second and third respectively.

But that did nothing to settle it as there have been other competitions organised in the disapora and other places either Ghana or Nigeria won.


Battle for supremacy

The Ghana Tourism Authority has initiated a ‘Jollof Rice Festival,’ a strategy in their mission to help people patronise made-in-Ghana goods.

Ghana’s first edition of the Jollof Rice Festival took place on Saturday, August 26 as part of the Ghana Tourism Authority's ‘See Ghana, Eat Ghana, Wear Ghana, Feel Ghana’ campaign.

Nigeria on the other hand has declared August 22 as "World Jollof Day."


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