EMBARRASSING TRAVEL TALES : MISSING MY FLIGHT BECAUSE OF JOLLOF RICE

November 5, 2017

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I wrote this piece for Kitchen Butterfly sometime in August. She was hosting a Jollof Festival in Lagos, Nigeria and wanted stories on people’s experiences with Jollof Rice. Well, good enough I had an embarrassing story to share (thanks to KacheeTee for ratting me out) and she asked me to write. When Kitchen Butterfly asks you to write, you really can’t say no. So here it goes, I hope you like it as much as she did! 

Meeting my Gambian Bestie

My one year at the Nigerian Law School, Bwari Campus {Abuja, Nigeria], was one of the best times of my life. Don’t get me wrong, the entire lecturing and grading system is still shit but the friends and awesome memories from there = PRICELESS!

The first time I met Miss Joof, we stuck to each other like glue and became instant best buds! Memories of our first meet linger on – I was queried for wearing a “short skirt” to class and being rude to the guards at the door. Yes, you read that right! Law school was really pathetic and they had people employed to guard the entrance to lecture halls. They were put there to scrutinize and inspect students as they came in; paying special attention to the ladies. If you didn’t conform to the dress code or wore a skirt/dress half an inch above your knees, you were sent back to change your clothes.

The day I met my Gambian bestie, I was caught up in a “short skirt” mess. I was summoned to some random office because I’d had an argument with one of the guards. I didn’t think my outfit was short but she thought otherwise. In the midst of all the chaos, this girl with a heavy British accent approached me and whispered to me “Just apologize, she just wants an apology”.  The headstrong me did not want to but I did eventually. After a couple of  “Sorry Ma’s” in both Nigerian and British accents, I was set free. No query was issued and I have Awa to thank for that. We laughed at the whole debacle, exchanged room numbers and our friendship began.

The Jollof Rice Argument

Awa and I would talk for hours unending as our rooms were 15 seconds away. We had so much in common from our love for music, traveling to similar taste in men, haha! She also educated me on the origin of Jollof rice.  

I don’t remember how the conversation started but we were going back and forth on which Jollof rice tasted better. We graduated from Law School in 2009 so this was way before the now famous “Jollof Wars”. I had never even tasted Gambian Jollof rice but there I was, arguing with the originators that Nigerian Jollof was better.  “You do realize that Jollof rice originated in Senegambia, right?’- She said. My ignorant response to that was “How is that even possible”? In my mind (and I bet in the mind of 90% of Nigerians), Jollof rice originated from our forefathers mothers kitchens and no one, absolutely no one can tell a Nigerian otherwise. Look, Jollof Rice is a Nigerian creation and that is that. Fullstop.

Anyways, I can tell you I got a good education. She kept throwing out words like Senegambia, Wolof people, Wolof language, Wolof rice, One Pot, Benachin…and on and on she went. Believe me, I had no clue Jollof Rice had so much history. I could not argue anymore, I felt defeated and betrayed. Jollof Rice was not a Nigerian invention :). 

I picked up the pieces of my broken heart and my next mission was to have a taste of this Gambian Jollof. I promised Awa I’d visit her in Gambia. So I waited four years for my trip to Gambia to taste this “magnificent” Jollof.

Planning the Gambian Escape

June 2013, I had only started work 3 months prior at a Law Office in Victoria Island, Lagos. I longed for a getaway. Sounds ridiculous but my wanderlust was an addiction. It’s so much better now. After combing through the Internet, I settled on Gambia because it was 1 hour 30 minutes away (or so we thought).  The plan was to go for one weekend and be back in time for work on Monday. I booked flights for Friday, which required me calling in sick (sorry ex-employers).


I was traveling with my boyfriend (now husband) and I had planned our kick-ass itinerary. On the itinerary was fishing in river Gambia, visiting the local market, visiting the Katchikally crocodile pool and hunting the best Gambian jollof! He thought the Jollof was the most ridiculous thing on the itinerary but I told him I had a point to prove to Awa, Jollof might have originated from Gambia, but Gambian Jollof was NOT better.

We had an awesome weekend, so great that we totally forgot about trying out the Jollof till the very last day.  Awa was such an awesome host! She got us great deals from our resort, took us to the local markets, decent beaches and nice restaurants. She also brought us baobab juice (BTW this is something everyone should try when in Gambia) everyday.


Embarrassing travel tales
Goofing across River Gambia

Views from coco ocean


The Jollof Rice Hunt

On our departure day, our itinerary was get massages first thing in the morning and head to the airport for our flight back to Lagos. By 11am, we were done. Our flight out was around 2pm so we still had some time. Right after the massages, we took a shower, bid the pleasant staff at our resort adieu and headed out. Then I remembered – I had not tasted this Gambian Jollof! There was no way I was going back to Nigeria without having a taste. Like they say, be careful what you wish for.

I called Awa and blamed her for not reminding me. She laughed and recommended a couple of good restaurants on our way to the airport we could try out. Then our hunt began.

The first restaurant had none.  

The second restaurant had none. At this point, we should have just given up the hunt and headed to the airport.  The driver assured us none of the restaurants were out of the way so we would not be late. Additionally, I was certain the flight was going to be late. We took an airline that was so notorious for being late. Each time my husband reminded me of the time, my immediate response was “Don’t worry, its ****, they are always late”.

The third and final stop finally had Benachin! YASSSSS. Don’t get excited. We did not get to try it. It took longer than expected and at this time it was 1.20pm! We got to the airport about 30 minutes to departure and of course the counter had closed. The plane was still on ground and did not take off for an extra hour but they just wouldn’t let us board. We begged and begged. I knelt down and cried. I even lied that I had a doctor’s appointment but they were not listening to none of that.  “Stop begging me! You are late and you’ll have to buy another ticket” said an angry man with a huge pot belly.

We gave up and shamelessly went back to our resort. Everyone had this “Oh what happened” look on their faces. “We got our flight time all mixed up so we have to spend one more night”- I blurted out. Before they asked too many questions. Could not be because of Jollof. Never that.

Hours later, Awa came to our resort and we laughed about the whole, entire situation. To cheer us up she took us to a restaurant that supposedly served one of the best Jollofs in town – ‘Tahonga African Queen Restaurant’. As our steaming hot plate of Jollof rice came out,I was excited to FINALLY try it out. 

“This better make me forget our horrible day”, I said to Awa. A couple of mouthfuls later, we were ordering two extra packs to go!

Was it better than Nigerian Jollof? You’ll have to visit Gambia to find out :).

Ever missed your flight (local or international)? We’ll definitely love to read from you.

Gambia is a green passport friendly country; ie Nigerians can visit with ease. There are no visa requirements for Nigerian citizens to Gambia and you could fly with your ECOWAS passport (the light blue passport that no one ever uses). You will need your yellow fever card. As at the time of this trip, the only airline going to Gambia was Arik Airline and I blogged about my full Gambian Experience here. There’s a “new” airline in town, Fly Mid Africa, but your journey from Lagos, Nigeria will still take 6+ hours!

MORE STORIES:  TECH TOURISM: THE NEW TRAVEL CRAZE IN AFRICA?

By Nomad Supreme

Welcome to the go-to spot for adventure seeking Nigerians 👣👣👣! 👻: @naijanomads 💌: travel@naijanomads.com

6 Comments

  1. Reply

    TRAVEL WITH A PEN

    Haha, was just waiting to read if the wolof was worth missing the flight for! I could feel the pain, especially after they didn’t take off for another hour…At least you got a good story and hopefully better jolof/wolof out of it, so hey!
    Also, I can’t wait to be like ‘I traveled with my boyfriend (now husband)’ haha.. the pictures are too cute!

    1. Reply

      Nomad Supreme

      Very useless airline. I was there crying like a mad person…you don’t even want to know how we got back to Lagos. There was no flight the next day on that airline. We had to Take Gambian Bird to Ghana and then fly from Ghana to Lagos. Easily 9 hours flying cos Gambian bird was a molue in the sky as well. Thankfully we came back in one piece!

  2. Reply

    Mrs Kush

    Moral of the story, Nigerian Jollof is King. Any other Jollof simply isn’t worth it! Let this be a lesson to us all. 😀

    1. Reply

      Nomad Supreme

      LMAO such lies…but I’m not ready to start any jollof war. Anyone interested in finding out how it tasted should take Fly Mid Air to Gambia! LOL

  3. Reply

    Oluwakemi Loriade

    LOVED reading this! I like that it was an actual story with funny details (cryiiinggg at the man with the pot belly lololol). I haven’t decided if Senegalese thiebou diene and thiebou yapp – which is supposedly their type of jollof – tastes better than Nigerian jollof, but I have a feeling the Gambian jollof might actually be… Hmm…
    PS: Like Amarachi I’m claiming the ability to say “I was traveling with my boyfriend (now husband)” soon in Jesus’ name. #SpeakingItIntoExistence #StartingAPrayerAndFastingProgram #OkNotReallyButStill

  4. Reply

    Unravelling Nigeria

    LMAO!!! I can’t even imagine you kneeling at the airport.

    Great post and I will definitely be trying wollof soon.

    meanwhile look at you at Mr R before all the ‘stress’ of real adulting

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