The Fulanis might be the subject of fair and unfair profiling in Nigeria at the moment but that is something else. What is up here is how the past one week has seen persons of Fulani identity going places.
Just take a look at Quartz Africa Weekly’s ‘PERSON OF INTEREST’ this morning, (July 3rd, 2022) which is featuring Fatmata Binta as the first African to win the Basque Culinary World prize, beating a thousand competitors to capture the One Hundred and Five Thousand dollar prize.
The Ghana based Sierra Leonean is, according to Quartz, keen on “showcasing sustainable nomadic culinary culture and exploring the diaspora of West African cuisine through her innovative ‘Dine on Mat’ pop-up initiative”. The initiative brings back the etiquette of eating the food with one’s fingers and preserving one’s traditions through storytelling. Embedded in the story telling is the idea of food that brings peace, thereby rolling food, storytelling, culture, community and peace into one whole. All these are what the Fulani Kitchen Foundation she runs addresses itself to, thereby making her a multiple role player.
The big deal in all of this is, to quote Quartz Africa again, “despite Africans being ignored for long by the fine-dining mainstream, Binta’s award is now proof that cuisines from the continent can make it to the world stage”. And what is the cuisine in this case? It is what is known especially in Northern parts of Nigeria as couscous.
From Sierra Leone/Ghana/Spain Fulani woman to the Nigerian counterpart, Hauwa Umar Aliyu from Jigawa State who, by her own account, emerged the winner of an April 9th, 2022 photo exhibition competition (Alumni category) for the University College London’s Institute of Education (UCL-IOE) 120yrs celebrations. The outcome of the participation came to her via an email from the selection panel to the effect that she is the winner.
Respect for diversity, the practice of multi-culturalism, deference to cosmopolitanism and inclusivity may all count at a place like the University College London but merit must also be there. In that case, Hauwa’s victory is no mean accomplishment.