I was just chatting with a childhood friend based in Houston Texas and this thought came to mind. Is there really anywhere you don’t find Nigerians? Do they miss home? What helps mitigate the homesickness? It all boils down (and yes, literally, to food).
I have encountered numerous Nigerians visiting the UK and London in particular, and no sooner than they have unpacked their travel gear, do they ask the same age long question.
“Is there any Nigerian eatery nearby?”
I must admit, this always comes as a bit of shock to me, as I would have imagined that only a few hours ago, these individuals would have treated themselves to some variant of Nigerian food: be it Jollof Rice, Pounded yam and Vegetble soup (edikang kong, okro, ogbono, ewedu or bitter leaf) and Suya or Fish/ Goat meat pepper soup. So what’s the impatience?
Nigerians in the diaspora know the exact needs of their brothers and sisters at home visiting these new climes. But the question is how have they responded to these clientelle. I have lived in Dubai, London, Scotland and visited Berlin, Houston, Atlanta, Florida, Tanzania and South Africa in the past decade or just over. In these journeys and sojourn, I have been rather unimpressed by the ambience of Nigerian restaurants in these locations (when compared with their counterparts).
There is a Nigerian saying that the way to a man’s heart is through food.
The same can be said about the best therapy for homesickness. Is food the only attraction? How about the atmosphere? Attitude of the waiters/ waitresses? Custmer service? Don’t even talk about the price for now.
This article is pitched as a wake-up call with managerial and theoretical implications. At the managerial level, Nigerian restaurateurs need to up their game and provide the appropriate ambiance, quality of service and innovativeness. At the theoretical level, academics should encourage students to undertake research projects on how to make Nigerian restaurants competitive especially in climes outside Nigeria.
Madichie, N. O. (2007). Nigerian restaurants in London: bridging the experiential perception/expectation gap. International Journal of Business and Globalisation, 1(2), 258-271.