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Origin of Nigerian Foods: Obo Egwa

Food is vital to the body. It is essential to the composition of self and one’s identity. Even though the Scripture tells us that man does not live by bread alone, we know that food sustains lives and preserves relationships. Our food history segment today takes us to the ancient kingdom of Igala.

Igala is one of the major ethnic groups in Kogi State. The ancestral home of Igala people is situated on the eastern side of the River Niger and Benue confluence. In the pre-colonial and colonial era, the Igala people were predominantly farmers and fishermen. Crops grown in the area include yam, cassava, beans, millet, beni seed, maize, and melon amongst others.

Obo Egwa is one of the delicacies that is indigenous to the Igala ethnic group. It is the Igala version of beans soup. In communities like Idah, Omala and Ofu-ugwolawo, obo egwa and ojé osikapa is a ceremonial food. Obo Egwa is made from peeled, blended beans. Let me quickly add that while any kind of beans can be used to make this soup, the best beans for this soup is brown beans. Ingredients for making this soup can be easily procured from the local markets within the country. They include dry fish, palm oil, fresh pepper, crayfish, locust beans, seasoning cubes and salt. Locust bean locally known as okpehie gives this soup a peculiar taste.

The soup is a proteinous delicacy. It can be prepared with or without vegetables. Spinach and pumpkin locally known as alefo and ugu respectively are vegetables that can be used in making this soup. Bush meat is the best meat for this soup but in its absence, any kind of meat can be used. Obo Egwa is best eaten with ojé osikapa, a type of rice swallow.


Emma Thrussell, “A Recipe for Identity: Food and Culture in Oaxaca Mexico,” A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Discipline of Anthropology, University of Adelaide, March, 2015, 12.

Thrussell, “A Recipe for Identity,” 28.

Isaiah Aduojo Negedu, “The Igala Traditional Religious Belief System: Between Monotheism and Polytheism,” Ogirisi: A New Journal of African Studies, Vol. 10, 2013, 116.

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Obiamaka Angela Udevi

Udevi, Obiamaka Angela holds a Master of Arts degree in History & International Studies. She's a freelance writer with a passion for food and healthy living. She can be contacted through her email address,

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