Each year, the traditional ruler of Onitsha Kingdom, Igwe Alfred Achebe makes a ceremonial outing which is preceded by several rituals. The Ofala festival is an avenue through which the king interacts with his people and other guests, nationally and internationally.
Participants at the 2019 edition of Onitsha Ofala Festival were treated to a thrilling cooking competition organised by West African Seasoning Company Limited (WASCO), makers of Aji-No-Moto food seasoning.
The event was a glamorous one, as WASCO showered various gift items on the women, especially those who participated in a cooking competition organised by the company using Aji-No-Moto food seasoning.
The contestants who were representatives from the nine villages in Onitsha Kingdom could not hide their joy, saying this year’s event would remain indelible in their hearts. They said it was the first time that a company would be supporting and engaging them with a cooking competition at the celebration.
WASCO’S Corporate Communication Officer, Mrs. Francisca Ikediashi, who spoke to the women, described them as home makers and agents of change and canvassed the use of the food seasoning to make their cooking better.
She assured them that the food seasoning also known as monosodium glutamate (MSG) is safe for consumption.
“The presence of Aji-No-Moto at this year’s Onitsha Ofala Festival is part of WASCO’s ongoing effort to reposition the product in the country, particularly to dispel myths and misconceptions about the Japanese food seasoning through the support of the women,” she said.
Ikediashi told the participants that the company’s management, after a courtesy visit to Igwe Achebe, promised to engage the women and participate in this year’s festival.
“It is a platform that will help us with the objective of continuing our interaction with opinion leaders and women groups with the aim of using their platforms to dispel the falsehood, perception issues as well as misconceptions that characterised Aji-No-Moto in the south,” she said.
She explained to them the need to work with facts and not rumours, stressing that glutamate has no health issues as purported in some quarters. She noted that based on its safety, Aji-No-Moto is consumed in over 130 countries. She said the company was committed to bringing out natural taste in cooking through safe and cost effective seasonings.
One of the women, Mrs. Ifeoma Okagbue, a professional chef who was chief judge at the cooking competition, commended WASCO for honouring Onitsha women at the festival.
“Our women are happy. We have never been celebrated by a company before. Aji-No-Moto made this Ofala a memorable one. I use it both in my cooking at home and in my profession and the cooking competition was splendid.”
Ifeoma also noted that the sensitisation lecture had reinforced the belief on the safety of he product, noting that awareness would boost the demand of the food seasoning in Onitsha Kingdom.
After the competition, in which nine women battled for the top prize, with each making a tasty meal of their choice cooked with Aji-No-Moto, Mrs. Emengini Mmelie, a native of Ogbeabo village with her Ogbono soup and nri oka (corn meal) won the competition. She expressed delight at the experiences that enabled her win.
“I cooked ogbono soup with assorted meat, fresh fish and stock fish. It was a great deal and I am happy with the opportunity.”
She was presented with a big set of pots by WASCO. Also, the second and third prize winners, alongside other contestants went home with assorted gifts.