People talk about jollof, and jollof this and jollof that. That’s all cool, jollof is a respectable meal. It is your typical food for the occasions : birthdays, weddings, funerals etc., where it is even said that a party without jollof is just a meeting. Throw in your usual jollof wars between Ghana and Naija and you have a more sumptuous reason to root for the Ghana jollof. And although jollof is a pride-sustaining/affirming meal, it can never be a better breakfast than waakye. Or as I like to call it, awaakye.
Noone, and I mean noone ever woke up from bed, in his home or in a friends house, especially, and upon the thought of breakfast asked: chale, is there any jollof joint in this area? It’s unheard of. Kai!
Here in my hood, there’s this woman who sells jollof in close proximity to the waakye seller (I wonder who so ill advised her). Every morning, as I make my glorious march to waakye-land, I see that her product is least patronised. I could be in the waakye queue for as long as one person buys for ten other folks and all the while, just one and a half people come and ask of what is being sold there. You might think the waakye seller uses some powers to draw all the customers but not so. It’s just the times and seasons that are not jollof friendly.
The other morning for instance, I caught my cousin Kwayne Jnr, the most diehard jollof fan I know buying waakye for breakfast. I would have let it count as one of those once-in-a while moments upon which you can’t judge a person’s true interest, except that he proceeded to give me counsel and campaigned for that waakye joint saying: oh aha de3 no nso 3y3 fine paaa ooo( oh this joint is so good oo). Waaa look! His testimony was as from one used to the place, and used to the place I couldn’t doubt. When it comes to waakye for breakfast, even the most ardent jollof supporters humble themselves.
The love for waakye on a good morning goes deep, deeper to the very base of the saucepans they are cooked in. This is truth and there’s no lie in it, no jollof joint ever sells the “under” aka kanzo together with the jollof itslef. It is uncouth and would render the jollof as having less character. Although we wouldn’t mind eating that same jollof kanzo in our homes anyway. But when it comes to waakye and it’s “under”, oh there’s no shame, we tell the seller to “please add more”.
Would you now be surprised if I told you I was inpired to pen this after a good episode of waakye for breakfast? More so, after I witnessed that respectable man buy the waakye this morning for himself and his friend and didn’t forget to ask the seller to add some of the “under? What more could such inspiration do for an old customer like me than to also follow the man’s example?
“Madam, me nso ma me ase3 no bi wae” (me too give me the kanzo some wae), I said.
And I had almost forgotten certain portions of my childhood, untill the “under” brought them back. Those times when all the love a boy knew was waakye and so would pester his mom to give him money to buy Nurse’s waakye. That waakye seller then was named Nurse for obvious reasosns; she put care in her waakye like a nurse, and the waakye took care of the community, like a nurse.
And I had almost forgotten Lab. The times back in Secondary School where we would dare risk the possibility of punishment or even suspension and break bounds just to go eat that waakye, which had been christened “LAB” for having the luck to be situated somewhere behind the school’s science laboratory. Oh the experiments we did with that early morning waakye, adding substances like avocado, spaghetti, gari etc etc.
This is not pitting waakye and jollof against each other and calling on men to choose sides, for there’s no point in that. But even as jollof when introduced at a mere meeting can turn such into a party, waakye is that morning ritual where no food, not even jollof can best substitute.