Our Independence Day Tomorrow

To unity and faith, peace and progress.

Its now  fifty-four years that Nigeria did the formal send-off of the British colonial government. It was on the first of October, 1960.

Not long before, the British had mapped out a territory to be bound together as one country. They named it from the Niger river area. In 1914 the British colonial administration at the eastern edge of West Africa put together a motley crew of tribes and tongues; nations of various character, nations with different histories, to form one region, one administrative domain. There began our collective history as Nigeria.

Long before 1914, there was a call put out to peoples of every tribe and tongue and country to join a new nation. It’s bells ring today. The way been cleared and the door was opened for any to enter by a choice. To become one nation under God and to have the spirit of Christ to rule them all. Its a motley crew of peoples too, transcending borders and lands, peoples and cultures. You could almost think America. The Church is the Ecclesia, a people called out of many tribes.

Different from how the peoples of Nigeria became Nigerian, we became Christian by choice when we acknowledged that God is, and chose to believe that the son of God died and was resurrected for us, alive now and for eternity. Our ‘independence’ moment.

This translation was effected by our words spoken from heart as we’d said that Jesus the Christ is our lord and leader; It was also in mind and attitude, as we’d chosen to believe Jesus the Christ—accepting as truth that he had brought us into sonship with God, the supreme love.

Our differences and the collective experiences of our tribes may give us reasons to differ, to argue, and even to be angry. What really makes the difference for society and more, is the attitude with which we deal with these histories and feelings. Always we remind ourselves as Christians that we are one in Christ; we remind ourselves also to earnestly keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace, dealing with one another in love.

We are reminded to not go to bed with anger. Reminded to forgive; to repay evil, but with good. To stand for truth and justice. And to choose peace, as much as it depends on us.

All too often, our humanity gets in the way. So it’s a battle, and one we will win with God’s help. And He says we have to try first, and second, and third, and ….

With the unifying by the Spirit of Christ, or nationhood, differing backgrounds should only be celebrated and appreciated. True that our tribal loyalties are strong, but our bond in God is deeper. Our bond as a nation, and family, needs be stronger than every reason for balkanisation in order to keep good peace and ensure oneness.

We have only a few things to live in: righteousness, peace, and joy. Surely we can make it.

Romans 10: 9 – 10
Ephesians 4: 2 – 6
Romans 12: 4 – 21

Cooking white rice and some.

We’re in a season again of wholesale meal sharing, eating with friends, family and whoever. With food on my mind, I thought to share my way of preparing rice (white rice) and making a meal of it.

Why rice? Because it’s a staple and its easy to cook and it goes with many things. It isn’t choosy about what you eat with it (the Chinese know this too well, buffet galore). Most importantly, I cook it well.

The way
Pour washed rice into a pot of water (boiling/hot/normal) with heat at an appropriate level and cook until white and soft enough for eating. Simple!

In this method you put just enough water so that it ‘dries’ up about when the rice is well cooked. After the water has boiled for a few minutes, you can reduce the heat and let it kind of simmer. Cooking rice in a little too much water and for a little too long tends to making ‘tuwo shinkafa,’ a rice pudding of sorts that goes with some soups/stews (miyan kuka, miyan taoshe etc) eaten with hand; common to the Hausas and some northern Nigerian tribes. It may be salted to taste, and flavoured with onions or black pepper, even with a seasoning cube. White rice may be served with honey and butter (truly), and with perhaps chopped sweet peppers or vegetable mixes (green peas, corn, cauliflower, carrots…). Some soups and stews work well. Red ‘stew’ is the norm in Nigeria and it goes well with bananas or fried plantain.

There are different varieties of rice, some cook faster than others, some more nutritious, while some swell more. ‘Popular’ Nigerian varieties include Ofada and Ekpoma. Take care to ‘clean’ them before cooking so that you don’t get to chew ‘cooked’ stones. There’s also Abakaliki rice. You can’t beat these varieties for taste, aroma, and nutrition.
We mostly eat imported rice (from Asia), cleaned and parboiled, thus less nutritious. It might even be GM (genetically modified). A common imported variety is called tomato rice, then there’re the others. And that is all I know. There are many here who have never had the pleasure of tasting local varieties.

Please take precautions to prevent accidents or disasters while cooking. Note also that the above method may result is a slight browning of rice at the bottom of the pot which is quite delicious when perfectly engineered.
As a general rule, rice is not to be stirred. Doing this upsets the channeling of heat to the top and may lead to variations in softness making it challengingly palatable. The heat localisation at the bottom may also result in toast/roast/burnt rice.
Put a fork or spoon through to the bottom and move slightly to one side to check whether the water is dry if the water level is below the rice level in the pot.
Rice would usually swell to about 3 to 4 times its volume when done. This should be a useful guide for determining how much water is needed. Evaporation isn’t much of a consideration with a pressure cooker.
There’s jollof rice and fried rice too, but they’re beyond the scope of this piece.