Review: My weekend as a Jollof Judge - #SaloneJollofLivesMatter
I said... FAMBUL DEM!
I am in severe PAIN! I am in agony...I am DISTRAUGHT!
This weekend I have been humbled...
and from it I have transformed........
to an even bigger savage! 😎
Imagine, me - a WHOLE Mina Bilkis; the self-appointed Ambassador of the Salone Jollof Lives Matter movement.
For context let me explain...
I'm Sierra Leonean. Duh.
And I love Salone. Evidently.
I have been to Ghana 🇬🇭, where I fell in love with the Culture, History and Arts scene and was even a self proclaimed fake Ghanaian
I have been to Nigeria 🇳🇬 - I mean Nigeria was my first home in West Africa before I moved to Sierra Leone for the first time after the conflict in December 2001 (The war itself ended in January 2002 as declared by the late President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah). I'm also half-Nigerian but that's not is not important. Na Salone a dae, I die here. (I'm Sierra Leonean through in and out).
I have been to Liberia 🇱🇷 - where I've done feminist building work and chopped life with some fierce sistas
I have been to Gambia 🇬🇲 - once as a child 20 years ago, and visited earlier this year for a digital rights meeting. Talk about full circle moment much?
I have been to Senegal 🇸🇳 - the origin land of Jollof and walked with lions and our ancestors. (not metaphorically, like literally)
and of course I have lived and worked in Salone since my return to the Continent 2014.
My point is...
My lived experiences are valid.
My lived experiences qualify me to be a Jollof Judge, Snob and Critic - I claim it with my breast BACK! (No disrespect Senegal - my war is against the Anglophone countries that have bullied us, not you! I love and respect you!)
Which is why I was thrilled to be asked to serve as a #JollofJudge on Saturday, May 14 2022. But things took a turn...
Ready for this?
So, as y'all know I posted my #Top7 Things to do in Freetown in May 2022 last week and the Jollof Competition was featured.
In the past as I had mentioned on the blog and on Instagram; this is the third year the organizers have held this event. This time it seemed to be open to the public as in the past to my understanding were invite only. So of course I wanted to go to:
a) announce myself as the self-appointed Ambassador of the #SJLM
b) and support! 🇸🇱
Green, white and blue baby!
But hmm...anyways, let me take my time by narrating this story.
It started when my friend and fitness/wellness trainer Sofia Konneh aka Sisi picked me up to head to Aqua Club in Murraytown. By the way Sisi is great, check out her work on Instagram: @mk.sisi. You'll see why she's so great later in this post...
We arrive at Aqua and we both get to work initially - me preparing content and Sisi was networking.
I was then asked at the last minute to serve as a judge by 2015's BBC 100 Women and Founder of The Fifty-Fifty Group Sierra Leone Dr. Nemata Majeks-Walker. At first I was hesitant because I was burnt out after an exhaustive two weeks and just wanted to rest and observe. But sometimes in life you do the fun and spontaneous things and Nema is like that - so I did it. (plus I have a hard time saying no to her! 🤣)
So here I was, posed, poised and ready. Dripping' in Ori - ready to serve!
The competition judging was blind.
As judges we were given a sheet of paper, and each competitor was labeled by a number so we wouldn't know what dish it was. We judged based on 4 categories:
1) Presentation (maximum 25 points)
2) Palatability/Taste/Texture (maximum 25 points)
3) Aroma/Smell (25 points)
4) Authenticity (25 points)
Total - 1oo points
I then got to work like Rihanna.
Jollof judging is serious and as you know, I take every assignment and challenge head on!
After much deliberation, the results were out 🥺
In first place was Gambia 🇬🇲
In second place was Senegal 🇸🇳
In third place was Ghana 🇬🇭
Do you see WHY I was distraught?
Salone didn't even make top 3? In my OWN country. The disgrace! The inhumanity! Afta ah don kak en nak chest say na wi dae win am MA? (After much bragging that we had this in the bag?)
I asked myself, am I not embarrassed? Am I not EMBARAZZED? I was o. I really was. Ah shame lek dog! (I was so embarrassed!)
I was. I really was. I had failed Nella Rose!
I mean I get why Nigeria didn't win...but a WHOLE Salone??? Dis e shake mi o (I was shook!)
Anyways, like I said. And always say.
ON BOUGE (French)
Yagba nor dae don (Krio)
And indeed, we moved. As we should.
In African-esque style, we got down with the boogie! Sisi led us in her on brand Zumba class she instructs at Swiss Hotel three times a week in the evenings. Again, check her out - I can't reiterate how awesome and uplifting she and her work is. Nope, I'm not her agent or even getting commission for shouting her or anyone out.
Sidenote: Nope, I'm not her agent or even getting commission for shouting her or anyone out. As usual, I would disclaim any sponsored posts. I just believe in investing in a fragile ecosystem. In a country with low resources and many dim lights everywhere - they/we shine collectively when empowered. We got this.
Which is why I asked the question to you all in my #DarkIndependence poem...light don kam? What do you think. Tell me in the comments, email me or DM me. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Before I wrap up, let me handle the review part of this article:
Did I love this event? YES
It was a live demonstration of inter-generational energy working together and not against each other. We all shined.
Let's open this up to more people - I got tons of traction on Twitter that you should check out. Our boys and men are sometimes feeling left out in these family-friendly and day time outings. Let's include them. We love them too. At least, I do. Also, we could do better to improve the time. Let's start on time and handle event management more efficiently.
4 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐
It was great. Keep it up. We need more activities like these in a time like this.
It is now midnight in the Republic - again no power and I had to leave the comfort of my home to get some WiFi to bring this story to you.
But hey, that's life.
Off to bed for me now.
Lemme catch these zzz's.
Mina Bilkis, signing out.
ergo sum cogito
Hit me up - firstname.lastname@example.org
As usual, you can reach out to me via email to advertise your event, business or workshop. Want me as a Brand Ambassador? Why not, you know how to reach me. Until then.
Tomorrow is another day
It's a new dawn and like Nina Simone - I'm feeling good.