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Adanna Elechi: My Transition From An Ajebo To A Mama-put Pikin



I am always going on and on about how much of an ajebo I am. It is written all over me and I know world people see it too. I know I was raised with the mentality that street food was bad for me. You can blame my Dad (RIP my love), he had probably seen thousands of food poisoning cases as a doctor. He always stressed the need to eat at home or if you must eat out, look for a decent place. I grew up paying no mind to street food vendors a.k.a mama-put. Boarding school food doesn’t count.

When I went to the university and my hatred for the market (you can read my Lagos island market experience here) made me adapt to eating out. I had to look for the cleanest place to eat. Shout out to excellent café. It was downhill from there, I found myself at mama Nkechi’s shop eating moi moi and rice. Every day I ate there, a little chip of my ‘ajeboness’ fell off.

One day, my friend Ugochi Nwaneri bought a plate of vegetable soup for me. I ate it and fell deeply in love. It became my new addiction but I never went to where she bought it from. On this particular day, my craving was off the charts, I had to sit down and ask myself if I had spoken to any angel and accepted to carry another savior. I called my vegetable soup connect (In Tommy Egan‘s voice) but she was out of town so she directed me to the place.

I was skeptical about going there because I knew the addiction was about to end. Against my better judgment, I dressed up and took a bike to the place. Immediately I looked into the tiny restaurant, the craving disappeared. I was happy and sad at this same time, I was happy  I didn’t have to eat garri every day.  I was also very happy I still had some ajebo remaining in me; but I was sad because I really loved that soup and thought we would last longer than we did.

Fast forward to my service year. Of course, camp food wasn’t an option. I chose the neatest restaurants in mami to eat. I was forming ‘Davido thing, till I resumed at my PPA and the corps members in my department inducted me into the roasted yam hall of fame. My Lord! The place was on another level, way worse than the tiny vegetable soup restaurant. It was in the open and we had to go through a bush path to get to it.

Asides having to pass through a bush path, there was also a mechanic village just beside it. I obviously left my real self at home that day. By the time I got home and the real Adanna entered and I remembered what my parents used to say about how mechanic village food killed our mechanic, it was too late. Drake’s ‘if you are reading this it’s too late’ was about me.

This roasted yam and plantain became my motivation to go to work. The food was so good I mention it in almost every article I have written. The surrounding was no longer filthy; in my eyes it was a 5-star restaurant. I was obviously gone. When the next batch of corps members came in, I took them there for induction and we did this every day of the week.  At this point my home training was gone. I would eat beans and plantain occasionally by the roadside. Something I would never do when I was still normal.

Immediately after service, the veil of roasted yam was lifted and I regained my senses and returned to my ajebo ways. I forgot to mention there was a woman who sold rice and stew from the boot of an abandoned Mercedes in my estate, right in front of my house gate. I never looked at her twice. I guess she didn’t know where the roasted yam woman got her own ‘kobnomi’. I would be dying of hunger inside my house, but I still won’t go out to buy from her because I was an ajebo and her jazz hadn’t touched me.

I was safe until my friend Sasa came around and bought rice and ofe akwu. The food scientist in me said  ‘no’. My parent’s words were ringing in my head about barrow food. This was even worse because this was in an abandoned car. Who knew the wild animals that lived inside that car? She kept telling me to buy, but my will was strong until we got inside and she opened the food. The aroma sent me straight back to my mother’s kitchen scraping her ofe akwu pot.

I was still forming, but the torture was getting out of hand, so I stylishly begged her for a spoon with a small attitude. After complaining, she reluctantly gave me.  Ladies, gentlemen and other genders, that was how the ajebo in me finally died. I went from buying with her takeaway packs to carrying my own warmer like a true ‘mama-put pikin’. The first day I took my warmer, I knew that the woman had gone somewhere deep for me. I was always the first person there. It was almost as if my spirit knew when she was outside. It got so bad I dropped my house key for her sales girl to keep my food in the fridge whenever I left for work before they came out. The Mercedes all of a sudden went from an abandoned flat boot to an AMG E 53 4matic. That was when I knew there was no redemption. Brethren, I asked the woman if she was traveling for Christmas before I got my ticket. I almost picked her over my own family. Mercedes Benz boot rice and ofe akwu murdered the last drop of ajebo in me.

I am currently recovering and eating at home most of the time now. I enjoy preparing my own meals and using spices I can hardly pronounce thanks to the Food Network. At least I know the food is clean and the sodium and oils in it are controlled which is very important for my health. I eat out once in a while now, Abacha, ji kpacha with beans etc, but I still have my ajebo on lockdown. That being said, I want to thank in a special way all the mama-puts that saved me before I finally blew. Abeg I never blow o, epp me!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Adanna Elechi is an entrepreneur, writer, blogger and information enthusiast who believes in changing the world one post at a time. She is passionate about nutrition and wellness and blogs about it on Connect with her on all social platforms @adee_elechi


  1. Babe

    September 3, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    Haha …. mama put and satchet water. I kept hearing my dad’s voice warning me until I finally succumbed to peer pressure.
    All those tiny shacks in Unical behind Faculty of science. I hear Jevenik started from there. Shout out!
    Then the day four of us shared one satchet of water, each puncturing a different corner…lol, is the day I.was initiated.

  2. Dayo

    September 4, 2018 at 4:33 am

    Adanna go kill person with yet another classic… ???

    I am just waiting for the book “The Adanna Adventures.”

  3. sweets

    September 4, 2018 at 7:46 am

    Nice and interesting ..i can relate well lol …Parents and the things they told us that keeps us thinking twice till now…xxx

  4. Dame

    September 4, 2018 at 9:27 am

    LMAO…I juts have to sya my own. there was this woman selling food on my street when we were growing up…guess her nickname “IYA DIRTY” cos she was dirty and her surroundings also.

    Guess who snuck there everytime her parents were out ? ME . My dad almost passed out when he found out. Dont get me wrong, we ate street food once in a while, but he couldnot understand why i was going to Iya dirt’s place even after calling her Iya dirty. LMAO

    Or my younger sister who stopped taking food from home to school only to be found at Mama’s rice very early in the morning around 7.30 ( my sister was in pry 5 at this time) LMAO

    Street food wins jare…i buy boli and sauce every week outside my office. I dont mind pepper rice every now and then

  5. amara

    September 4, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Lol.. Nice Read! I grew up in lagos and i thought it was a pretty normal thing to crave and eat mama put mornings and school break time. During my NYSC, i made friends with wonderful people who grew up in the south eastern part of the country, and for the first time, I met people who thought mama put foods were bad.

  6. Joy E. Ojo

    September 4, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Interesting write up. I am a full blown mama put person all the way. My mother is no exception. We eat anywhere we see good food all the way in Alausa where we go for her pension those good old days. We have eaten Tejuosho Rice, Bankole Moh food etc, tha’ts just for Lagos. While in Uni, I moved to Terminus for the famous Amala, etc. I am yet to initiate my children, dem still dey form AJE BO.

  7. Radiant

    September 4, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Lol. I join you in thanking all the street food vendors saving lives every day. 🙂

  8. Hmm

    September 4, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    Street food is sweet,, especially when it is done with the right firewood – All my dad’s warnings and threats did not worked – One of the best adventures in Lagos I had as a child was to explore my palate. It was definitely a mission FULFILLED.

    Nigeria women can cook and that ain’t no lie, especially when you have tried cuisines around the world.

    I wonder when Mark Wiens will travel to Nigeria broaden his taste buds with the finest of the motherland’s delicacies.

  9. Mela

    September 4, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    I don’t like cooking….But I have never gotten myself to eat Mama put regularly…infact it was only during university days and when I was pregnant that I actually eat mama put. I guess in the east here mama put is not something regular for a typical family mum. Fast foods are more popular.
    Maybe I will try it out on a normal day ???

  10. Miphee

    September 5, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Ada, this was a good read…Very hilarious too?. Keep it up boo!

  11. MIA

    September 5, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Street food is bae. I rather you buy for me tho. Apart from boli my mum won’t believe you if you tell her I eat street food.

  12. Kendaraah

    September 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm

    There’s this place they sell amala on babs animashaun. Jesus! that woman has bought my soul…And she even has off days…

  13. Koks

    September 7, 2018 at 6:20 am

    Rotflmao…. this was a great read,I enjoyed every bit of it. And the humor is ?? More grace,Sis❤

  14. Ugochi Nwaneri

    September 9, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    Awww!!!! Me mama-put pikin . Why won’t I introduce you to it. Nice one dear, keep it up

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