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Know your history: Jollof is an indigenous African dish and was named after the Wolof tribe of West Africa.

Is been years Ghana and Nigeria have been trending on social media about which country among the two cooks delicious and yummy Jollof Rice. For all you know, most african do not know that Jollof is an indigenous African dish. Time to educate ourselves on the origin of Jollof Rice.

Jollof rice is one of the most common dishes in West Africa. There are several regional variations in name and ingredients, for example, in Mali it is called zaamè in Bamanankan. The dish’s most common name, Jollof was derived from the name of the Wolof people, though in Senegal and Gambia the dish is referred to in Wolof as ceebu jën or benachin. In French-speaking areas, it is called riz au gras. Despite the variations, the dish is “mutually intelligible” across the regions and has become the best known African dish outside the continent.

Based on its name, the origins of jollof rice can be traced to the Senegambia region that was ruled by the Jolof Empire. Food and agriculture historian James C. McCann considers this claim plausible given the popularity of rice in the upper Niger valley, but considers it unlikely that the dish could have spread from Senegal to its current range since such a diffusion is not seen in “linguistic, historical or political patterns”. Instead he proposes that the dish spread with the Mali empire, especially the Djula tradespeople who dispersed widely to the regional commercial and urban centers, taking with them economic arts of “blacksmithing, small-scale marketing, and rice agronomy” as well as the religion of Islam.

Marc Dufumier, Emeritus Professor of Agronomy proposes a more recent origin for the dish, which may only have appeared as a consequence of the colonial promotion of intensive peanut cropping in central Senegal for the French oil industry, and where commensurate reduction in the planted area of traditional millet and sorghum staples was compensated by forced imports of broken rice from Southeast Asia.

It may then have spread throughout the region through the historical commercial, cultural and religious channels linking Senegal with Ghana, Nigeria and beyond, many of which continue to thrive today, such as the Tijāniyyah Sufi brotherhood bringing thousands of West African pilgrims to Senegal annually.

Credit to Wikipedia.

Kobina Essoun

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