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  • Writer's pictureChef Nii

Stir Fry Jollof

Chalé…So Ghana rejected me and I “conf”, which is just a very Ghanaian way of saying I am confused. Because if a whole me was rejected then nobody is safe, you all need to watch your backs for it’s definitely not safe out here in these streets!!!


Now I believe this piece might be for the “Borgas” - a common term Ghanaians use to describe Ghanaians living in the diaspora. But at the same time too, this piece might just give insight into what it feels like to move back home and then be spewed out like one week old fufu (pounded cassava + plantain).


I remember that very day like it was yesterday, the day I officially left. My spirit was cried out but physically, I couldn’t show that emotion, for that will be ungrateful! How can you be crying over an opportunity that most pray for, sell all their possessions for and would even die for? Even though I didn’t feel like it, I had to smile through it; I had to look for that smile wherever it was and then had to plaster it across my face, and I did.


You see a holiday mindset is different, you know for a fact that come what may, las las you will go back home. Chop your money and just wait, you just need to focus on that return ticket and you will see Ghana Feeli Feeli . I don’t know about you guys but for me, after 2 weeks I am no longer impressed. There is nothing you can show me again “I want to go home!”


But this time the ticket is a one-way ticket oh! There is no “las las!”, the mindset was different. It felt like I won’t be seeing Ghana again, at least for a long time. This time there was no return ticket to focus on, this time there was no “Feeli! Feeli!!!”


So, my Daavi’s waakye will become a myth? Ghana bread! Oh,Ghana bread! I mean I had eaten as much I could to sustain me,and it still felt like beans! I wanted more!!! Talking about beans… plantain and beans…Jesus, my chest!


As my mother had emptied her pension fund for this trip…if you like don’t go! So, I cried in spirit as my flesh smiled and thanked everybody present, thanking them for their sacrifices and support, “God Bless you all!!!”


Then the matter of leaving my family, who will I call for phone credit? Whose car will I drive with no intention of refueling? Who will I ask to hold 50 Ghana with no intention at all of paying back?


Who will fry pancake for me every evening? My squad, my band, the sun! Sunshine!!! Oh God this trip is not beans oh! I don’t do emotional things, it’s just not gangster, so on the said day I hugged my family in 4K and left for the Queen’s land…Deuces!!! And then I cried on the plane all the way to border control. I am sure the immigration officer even thought I was being trafficked because my eyes were telling a different story…anyways…


Chalé! You get there and it doesn’t matter how much you try, you are constantly reminded of the fact that this place is not your home, you are Jollof living in the land of potatoes. You can try to dress like them, you can twine your English, look! It doesn’t matter what you do that waakye is still inside you! Ghana jollof will always be Ghana jollof, even if you label it fish and chips.


You will know this when you sit on that train and people are getting up because you sat by them. You will know this when people cross the street to the other pavement because they saw you coming. You will know this when you sit down at a restaurant and you are the last one to get served, you will know this when security decides to follow you around the store, the sun alone will remind you that you are jollof and not a jacket potato. All of this, yet where do you fit in?


But at the back of your mind, you know that there is a place where everybody is jollof and has waakye inside of them, you don’t even have to try, you just fit in. So, it doesn’t matter what’s been happening, you know that one day one day, you will go home and forget this sunless place. So, the day I packed my things and went back home and had to come back here is also another day I will never forget!

Chalé guys I hit breaking point. In the middle of a separation, I packed two suitcases, left everything, and jumped on a plane back to Ghana with a one-way ticket. I didn’t need anything, after all I was going home. I had two bags of things for people I had bought on credit with no intention of paying back. After all,if I don’t come back how will they catch me, and did I not pay taxes? They should use my taxes to offset it!


But I get to Ghana and… “am I dreaming!” After two weeks, I wanted to go back! “Go back where?!” I owe the queen oh! I owe! But Chalé…this jollof was not jollofing! Ghana wasn’t how I remember it - people had moved on to other things. The internet speed alone was elevating my blood pressure. As for the customer service I won’t even go there! I mean, on that side I didn’t care, for to be mistreated by a potato in the land of a potato is ok, but to be mistreated by a jollof, in the land of jollof! “I don’t want peace! I want problems!


Chalé! We will fight oh! People were telling me how impatient I had become, my driving was being laughed at, basically this jollof had changed! Now I was stir-fried jollof mixed with a lot of different things. Just plain jollof was not good enough for me anymore, and I couldn’t take it. Depression hugged me and wouldn’t let go, it didn’t matter what I did, I wasn’t jollof anymore; I had morphed into a stir fry, and that hurt.


And then the “when are you going back?” questions started…sigh… “I don’t know!” … the truth of the matter was I didn’t know. And then I had all these questions with no answers and all depression did was hug me tighter. At some point it changed from a hug into a chokehold, and it became apparent that I was either going to deal with it or sit quietly as it squeezed the life out of me.  


I was tempted to sit and allow the life to be squeezed out if me, it seemed like the easiest option, and I don’t know why I did, but I picked up the phone and called KwAmE, I called AwUrA, I reached out and guess what? Too many hands reached back. Sometimes people know you are not ok, but don’t want to overstep their boundaries, they want to help but don’t know how, they want to be there for you, but the thing is you have to let them.


We came to the conclusion that I had never really settled because I was living in the past. I was so focused on what I was missing and what I had left behind I was missing out on what was around me, wasn’t taking advantage of what the land had to offer me. Imagine running a race with your head turned backwards, you can never run in a straight line, you will end up wasting a lot of time, and until you turn your head, progress will really be minuscule, that’s if there will even be progress at all.


We came to the realisation that home is where you decide to settle down, and that could be Ghana or London or Johannesburg, all I had to do was pick a place, turn my head around and then begin to run.  Each location will present a different challenge, but then it will also provide many more opportunities too, I just had to take advantage of them.


“Choose ye this day where you will go…” Now I had to decide where I wanted to settle down. Ghana was out of the question…with bad internet and the independence I had become accustomed to, the “Where are you??” And “What time are you coming home “questions were just not giving!!! With South Africa I didn’t even have to blink! I loved the place, Cuzzo was there!!! I had been there enough times, but the real question was “Had I really given the Queen a chance?” And then the answer became apparent.


So, 7 weeks later I packed my bags once again, bought a one-way ticket once again, and headed back to my debt collector. But this time it’s different; I am taking the time to build some roots in this land. I’ve reduced my work hours and days. I am taking the time to make some friends, working on putting together my own village, my peoples, my forever and more I love yous. I am also taking the time to enjoy the fruits of this land, visiting places, trying new things, giving back, I am leaving my footprint on this land.


Don’t worry, soon when you decide to visit the queen I will pick you up with my G Wagon, and we will go to my condo, but until then, I will still meet and teach you all you need to know about the subway, I will teach you how to navigate a bus, and will teach you how to utilise a meal deal. You might have to get an Airbnb but don’t worry it won’t be for long. Small time I will blow!!!


The sun, sunshine and sunflowers…






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