The height of the jollof rice debate reached dizzying dimensions earlier this week when the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) swiftly settled a fierce longstanding battle by proclaiming Senegal the origin of jollof rice

Jollof rice, also known as Ceebu jën in Senegal, is a staple in West African cuisine, made from rice and fish, accompanied by vegetables and sometimes tomatoes.

According to research by Conversation Africa, the origins of Jollof rice date back to the entrenchment of colonial rule in West Africa between 1860 and 1940. During this period, French colonizers replaced food crops with broken rice imported from Indochina. Over time, broken rice became more appreciated by Senegalese than brown rice, and the dish known as Ceebu jën was born.

Jollof rice (called Ceebu jën in Senegal according to the Wolof spelling). The dish has become a source of pride and cultural identity for the Senegalese and has been recognized as an intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO. This certification is expected to have a positive impact on the economy, particularly in tourism, agriculture, fishing and catering.

In addition to its cultural significance, Jollof rice is also closely tied to a particular way of life, and consumption of the dish is strongly tied to ceremonial events and the aesthetics of presentation and service. The women of Saint Louis, a port city in northern Senegal, are known for their remarkable knowledge in this area and are credited with adding finesse and elegance to the dish.

The Senegalese version of Jollof rice, Ceebu jën, is now officially recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage of humanity, ending the ongoing debate over its origins and solidifying Senegal’s claim as the true home of Jollof rice.

As may be recalled, Nigerians criticized the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Twitter for his comment about which country has the best jollof rice.

However, the official recognition of Senegal as the origin of Jollof rice vindicated the Minister of Information.

Also, let’s remember that in an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest, the minister was asked which country makes the best jollof rice and he replied Senegal.

Quest was quick to react by saying “I hear a sigh, I hear a sigh across the country.”

On April 26, Quest tweeted “Jollof Rice. Delicious. Ghana or Nigeria? Which is the best? I am not getting involved in #jollofwar #richardquestinnigeria.”

The jollof rice battle has been a trend on social media between Nigerians and Ghanaians, but with the minister’s recent response, Nigerians have shown a high level of discontent on Twitter.

The British journalist before these reactions tried to clarify things.

He said: “To be clear. The minister misheard; he thought I asked him who first created jollof rice; hence the answer from him (correct) Senegal ”.

Unsurprisingly, Nigerians had mixed opinions on the comment and were quick to take to Twitter to voice their opinions.

Reacting to UNESCO’s current recognition, a Nigerian, Temitope Ajayi, stated on Twitter that what UNESCO did was establish the origin of the food, yet Nigeria still makes the best jollof on the continent.

Ajayi argued that Nigeria produces the best jollof rice in the world.

According to her, “what UNESCO did was establish the origin of the food, yet Nigeria still makes the best jollof on the continent. Nigeria makes the best jollof rice in the world.”

Another Twitter user, Charles Chakwud, said: “What we know is that Nigerian Jollof is the best in the world.”

Whereas Sarah Mathew posted that Ghanaians and Nigerians are fighting over something that originally didn’t belong to them, somehow. In response to her, Mustapha Saliu said: “We are only fighting who does it better. Even the people who invented it don’t know how to do it better than Nigerians. Jollof is literally for Nigeria and Ghana.”

Furthermore, he argued that they invented it but they don’t know how to do it better than Nigeria.

“Who doesn’t know that Senegal and Gambia invented Jollof? Why are they trying to do this trick? Ghana and Nigeria are not fighting over invention but over who cooks it best,” he added.

For her part, one chef, Esther Agho, said she cannot think of a more popular West African dish than jollof rice, adding that although she has tried Senegalese jollof before, Nigerian jollof still tastes better.

Agho said that Senegal, whose reputation rests more on its cultural influence and diplomacy, has every interest in capitalizing on this trend to boost its tourism sector.

He said the labeling should also have a positive impact on the economy, particularly tourism, agriculture, fishing and catering.

Speaking further, Agho said Nigerian jollof rice is popular for good reason, adding that it is delicious.

On why she loves jollof rice, she said that there are hundreds of different dishes in the world, but there are only a handful that have enough flavor to eat on their own.

“A bowl of jollof rice is one of those dishes. You know, the kind where you can relish the spoon or fork after you’re done with your meal? I mean, you would want to lick it clean. Jollof is deliciously addictive.

“Jollof rice is a staple in West African cuisine. It is made of rice, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and other seasonings. The dish is cooked in a pot. It’s simple and easy to make at home, and the end result is absolutely delicious,” he said.

For those of you unfamiliar with jollof rice, he said it is a rich and incredibly rich, aromatic and flavorful West African one-pot meal.

He further said that jollof rice has distinctive African spices, adding that it consists mainly of cooked rice and tomato stew seasoned with spices such as thyme, Scotch pepper, onion and garlic.