Once upon a time, in the Food Kingdom, the Ricedom village, to be precise, there was a debate.
This debate was a defining one in the land of Rice; the topic?
White rice, Jollof rice and Fried Rice, which was a better option for Nigerian parties?
And yes, their focus was on Nigeria because they had agreed that Nigerians threw the most parties. A party for a birthday, another for death, a party to celebrate those who attended the first party, a party to name a child, one to send him off to university, another to welcome him back home. Endless, countless reasons to celebrate.
So yes, this debate was focused on the Nigerian market.
White rice stood behind her podium, dressed in a white dress and a red hat that had Everything Stew inscribed on it in flashy cursive.
“Why me?” she began to speak in a squeaky voice. “Well, because I can be eaten with any topping. I can be eaten with stew, soups, pepper soups, sauces, beans, yam. Name it. I am available. I am versatile. I do not limit guests to one choice. Not like some of the others here.” she threw a glance at Jollof rice.
“Oh, you mean me?” Jollof rice was husky, her red dress shimmered, with specks of gold in it. She laughed. “Do you understand what it means to be really versatile? You are the definition of bland, boring, a meal with low self-esteem. You need an accompaniment for your beauty to be appreciated. How sad. Look at me. I am delicious just as I am, my fiery red colour is dazzling. I fit into all classes of society – whether rich or poor, I am affordable. I can be to the rich, a rich blend of vegetables. I am the woman of the people, widely accepted, widely travelled. So, that my dear White, is the actual definition of versatile.”
There was a wild round of applause as Jollof swiveled away from White. This debate was definitely steamy.
Fried rice waved a hand to quieten the uproar. She was regal, a queen dressed in a green dress that had specks of yellow and orange. She had rings on all her fingers, rings that shimmered when she raised her hand.
“You both are absolutely ridiculous,” Fried rice said, her voice a high-pitched sound. “Nigerians like colour. Look at me, I am the definition of colour. I am also a healthy choice, with vegetables of all kinds. I am different, I stand out. I am proud…”
“And therein lies the problem,” Jollof interrupted. “Your pride means that you are only accessible to a certain class of people. You do not fit in well with the masses, except a serious dressing-down happens, that is.” Jollof rolled her eyes in derision.
“But when it really matters, I am there…” Fried said.
“No, you are not. You get spoiled before the guests even dig into you! That is the height of irresponsibility.”
“Listen princess, you are just too high maintenance for regular Nigerians.” Jollof said, “and you, White, you are too boring for Nigerians. They need something that is comfortable in its plate all by itself. Nigerians need sass, not class. They need balance, not extreme. They need me, Jollof.”
With her final words, leaving a huge sound of applause, a blustering Fried rice and a speechless White rice, in her wake, Jollof dropped the mic and stepped off the stage.
There was nothing more to be said. The winner was clear.
It was decided that henceforth, Jollof was the acceptable rice at all Nigerian parties, as compensation, Fried rice was given second place.
White rice slunk away sadly, vowing to get revenge on Jollof for her humiliation.