For the first time, let me tell my Amala story. Be warned, it will not run like that of the late Ibadan strongman and politician, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu who brought fame to Amala politics.
Okay, it’s better you know that no matter the choice Nigerian delicacies you love, there’s a measure of politics in it, particularly when motive drives the process. Now, to friends and foes, I have never hidden my cravings for Amala, a special delicacy noted with the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria and as at today, reckons as one of leading culinary export from Nigeria to the world.
Am so used and engrossed with dates with Amala that nothing makes meaning to me on any dining table. I had eaten Amala all over the country. I truly hunt for it and people around me can’t understand why Amala is my number one priority whenever am hungry.
From Kebbi to Sokoto, Maiduguri to Yobe, Taraba, Adamawa, to Cross River, Enugu, Abia, Oyo to Ilorin, Edo to Niger state, it is Amala all the way. Rivers, Delta nko, abeg give me Amala.
In London and Atlanta, I had nosed for Amala. Berlin, German nearly ran me mad because I couldn’t get the Amala signature. In Madrid, Spain, I hunted and hunted, and had to make do with pounded yam. If you say am obsessed with this gastronomic wonder, do I really care? Am stuck with it but not the politics.
If you must know, I didn’t grow up eating Amala. My late mother is the typical home cook expert. She was from Owerri west, Emeabiam to be precise and if you are conversant with geography and ecology of this area, you will know, it is the food basket of Imo state.
To eat or entertain visitors to this area with any other delicacy other than pounded yam with okazi or oha soup, is punishable Haram.
To my mother’s people, then in the good old days, stuff like garri(eba) and rice is for the poor. It is an abomination to serve eba for dinner or lunch, it for farm hands and “foreigners” who are lazy to grow yam. Yam tubers are from royal homes or hard working rich farmers.
So, I had encounters with pounded yam until Amala took over. Today, my cousins, infact, there’s one that has refused the temptation of dumping pounded yam for anything. He is one guest you will never want to have because you must provide him pounded yam every day until he says good bye.
Back to my Amala story and you must believe me, I just had a very well prepared mouthwatering presentation at the royal table of Olota of Otta, Awori kingdom Oba Adeyemi Abdukabir Obalanlege last week when I visited him. It was not politics oooo.
My friend, Prince Femi Fadina of Awori Tourism, tempted me with pounded yam. Hmmmm, I relished it because I had Amala as midmorning breakfast on same day.
My brother friend, Gani Tarzan Balogun is also a lover of Amala and he arranges for it whenever we meet. The Boatman as Tarzan is popularly known, loves starch and owo soup and had tried unsuccessfully to change my Amala cravings for thethat Niger Delta signature delicacy.
Another Amala head hunter like me, is wale OJO Lanre. In Atlanta, United States, we went out hunting and discovered a Nigerian restaurant that does it differently. My oga, Otunba Segun Runsewe, DG, NCAC, does not like swallow. He is a jollof rice aficionado. He can do the stuff with dodo and Wonders why I won’t join him on the rice meal table.
Runsewe has warned me to beware of Amala and its politics, severally tried to scare me that my enemies can take advantage and do me evil. He fell short of saying I can be poisoned if I don’t restrain myself on the public table when Amala is served.
Now, once upon a time, I used to eat Amala with Folarin Coker, DG, Ntdc. He too is a badged lover of Amala. But I don’t know, if he plays politics with Amala. I won’t however tell you where we rendezvous for Amala in Lagos.
You see, this signature Amala place serves the dish in its original template. No side additions and the guests list stretched across board.
The place used to be and is still, where you meet the Nollywood big faces and even Waka pass genre. So Coker comes with friends and it is Amala all the way.
Nura Kangiwa, DG National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism (NIHOTOUR), loves Amala too and had his name on the VIP list at my hidden joint in Lagos. Gab Odu, NTA’s DIASPORA anchor man, loves Amala and will call from Abuja whenever he is Lagos bound to make reservations.
When Otunba Segun Runsewe buried his mother in Lagos, my lot was take care of his child hood friends, and of the places, I took the Kaduna big boys to, Amala won their hearts.
So now that I have told you my Amala escapades, you must not be surprised that some small minds now hold meetings on how they bought me Amala, a meal that I can convincingly and comfortably provide for myself.
Let us not go there yet. Amala and its famed ewedu soup tells a story, you must learn fast. You must not use the food to lure innocent souls to support your failings, it is antibiotics to deception.
Amala, is created to help the wise to eat with circumspect because it has the magic to stain your clothes for life. No matter how much you hide your intentions, Amala will tell your story.
Amala delicacy will not corporate with poisonous minds, persons who pretend to love Nigeria but failed to make her better, will summersault at the Amala table. Amala is also gifted in exposing failed politicians and you ask, how?
The first thing any politician with evil intent will do is to provide you with a meal of Amala even when you did not ask for it.
Because ewedu soup is slippery, most insidious politicians takes time to study the slippery ewedu soup, Serve you the meal and wait for the day you will raise your voice and then remind you how slippery their motives were.!
There’s no doubt that going through the “University of Amala” comes with great lessons. Usually, the political side of Amala is very deceptive, and poisonous. Persons with simplistic dispositions no doubt regrets taking for granted the opportunity to relish this gastronomic wonder with deadly politicians without checking out the their hidden motive.
I once told my pastor who advised me to stop eating Amala outdoors, that he is right. Am still praying and when people invite or ask me out for Amala date, I will have to pray hard. Even though I have friends whom I will jump to table to a meal of Amala, I will henceforth let my political friends know that a day for accountability will come like a thief in the night, and souls like me, cannot fall for Amala politics.
Bankole Bernard, immediate past president of Nanta, can vouch that Amala cannot shut my mouth to the truth. Susan Akporiaye, current nanta president and the second woman to occupy that exalted position in the history of travel trade in Nigeria, also bear witness to the truth.
But my brother and friend Nkerewuem Onung does not fit. The man likes pizza and each time we lunch out, I will pretend am full because I don’t like pizza!! He too does not like the black colour of Amala and the slippery ewedu soup.
It is however of recent that I heard that some friends, told the “world” they lured me to Amala outings so they can play Amala politics. How can someone I can buy plate of delicious Surulere Amala now turn around to call a board meeting to smear our mutual cravings for Amala?
I have not seen Folarin Coker around the Amala joint for a long time, so I really can’t vouch among my “friends” who want to make an issue out of my love for Amala delicacy.
Anyway, life is politics of some sort and some people will run to the roof top to announce to the world, that they have you on video tape on the Amala table. We can’t be too careful with “ friends”., Can we? Particularly, when we cannot promise not to lead campaigns for probity and accountability in public office.
Nigeria definitely is bigger than Amala politics. No wonder Ntdc has not reckoned with promoting our food Culture in the past four years, , has shut down the most futuristic investment in Nigerian culinary school, at its corporate office, carefully enthroned as veritable platform of encouraging the rebirth and sustainability of our food Culture.
Also dead at Ntdc, is a mini museum which husband the various representative samples of our unique Arts and crafts. It’s used to be one stop shop of our culture, heritage and pride.
Today, you can’t get the best of Amala and other mouthwatering Nigerian indigenous gastronomic wonders at Ntdc kitchens, but you can get a dose of Amala administration and politics. So beware!!