For thousands planning to travel to Cote d’Ivoire for the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in January, it is important to get acquainted with the traditional and cultural food of the people of our great hosts.
Countries around the world especially Africa have diverse food recipes enjoyed by citizens and tourists which visitors have to acclamatise with in case continental delicacies are readily available or expensive.
In Cameroon, jollof rice, Achu, yellow soup, fufu, fufu corn, bobolo, and Koki are some of the major delicacies.
As Donkunu is to Ghana, Waakye for Togo and Ghana, Djewo to Togo is Acheke a major traditional and cultural food peculiar to the people of Ivory Coast.
Acheke is a dish made from cassava that is popular and traditional in Ivory Coast. The dish is prepared from fermented cassava pulp that has been grated or granulated.
The food is a culinary specialty of the lagoon people (Ebrié, Adjoukrou, Alladian, Abidji, Avikam, Ahizi, Attie) of southern Ivory Coast.
To prepare Acheke, the cassava is peeled, grated, and mixed with a small amount of cassava that was previously fermented which is the starter. The starter has different names depending on the ethnic group that produces it: mangnan Ebrié lidjrou in Adjoukrou and bêdêfon in Allandjan.
The paste is left to ferment for one or two days. Once the fermentation time is over and the hydrocyanic acid that exists in a large proportion in natural cassava has been removed, the pulp is dewatered, screened, and dried, and then the final cooking is done by steaming the pulp.
After a few minutes of cooking, the Acheke is ready for consumption. It is best served with grilled fish, plantain, and pepper or tomato.
From the taste and quality, Abidjan-prepared Acheke tastes better and more nourishing compared to the ones prepared in other parts of Ivory, especially in Korohgo where the writer traveled for the 2023 CAF Women’s Champions League.
The writer’s first taste of Acheke was at Ejigbo, Osun state, southwest Nigeria. Ejigbo indigenes are well-traveled. They have a long history of international emigration, predominantly Ivory Coast.
Out of about a million and two hundred thousand Nigerians residing in Côte d’Ivoire since the 1900s till present, indigenes of the Ejigbo local government area made up of more than 50% of that population.
This has been drastically affecting the population of Ejigbo city, Nigeria, due to the continuous migration of her people to some neighbouring West African countries, notably: Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Niger Republic, and Togo.
To further address this, there are buses traveling from Ejigbo to Ivory Coast every week as indigenes migrate for business and catch up with relatives based in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast.
This in a large way is responsible for the availability of Ivory Coast delicacies such as Acheke in Ejigbo as well as delicacies of other West African countries like Waakye as travelers from Ejigbo do pass through the borders of Benin Republic, Togo, and Ghana before getting to their destination in Ivory Coast.
Of importance is a town known as Adjame and the area “Adjame Temidire” where the Nigerian community live and thrives in Abidjan.
A large number of Ejigbo people live in Adjamé, a suburb of the city, as well as other urban centres such as Treichville and Marcory. Other areas where Ejigbo people abound are Abobo, Grand Bassam, Bracodi, Bouake, Dabou, Cocody, and Abengourou.
In each of these places, the Ejigbo people have a community leader they refer to as the ‘oba’ (king) of the area, a reflection of the Yoruba culture.
Apart from their mother tongue, Yoruba, and Nigeria’s official language, English, many of them speak fluent French. In fact, it is through their names one could easily guess an Ejigbo indigene.
Overall, Acheke is a wonderful delicacy that should be tasted by those traveling to Ivory for AFCON 2023 as well as visiting Adjame Temidire, the base of Nigerians for Nigerians visiting the country for the first time.
It promises to be an enjoyable trip to Ivory Coast for travelers.