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Origin Of Nigerian Foods: Afia Efere

The Efik-Ibibio ethnic groups inhabit the South-South geopolitical zone in Nigeria. They predominantly occupy Akwa Ibom and Cross River states. The Efik-Ibibio play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s history. In fact, the ancient city of Calabar is considered the first capital of Nigeria because it served as the first capital of the Southern Protectorate, the Oil River Protectorate, and Niger Coast Protectorate [1]. In the pre-colonial and colonial era, the dominant occupation of the people was farming and fishing. The Efik-Ibibio are a people with a rich cultural heritage and a deep attachment to the river. Most of their food comes mainly from the river. The people are legendary cooks; their culinary skills are well-known and respected in Nigeria and beyond. Indeed, they have a number of scrumptious delicacies that are widely enjoyed in Nigeria one if which is Afia Efere.

Afia efere literally means white soup in Efik; it is the Efik version of ofe nsala Ndi Igbo. Afia efere is usually prepared with goat meat or chicken. Like most delicacies of the Efik-Ibibio, periwinkle and dry catfish are used in making this soup and pounded yam is used to thicken it. Other ingredients for preparing this soup are stockfish, crayfish, fresh pepper, calabash nutmeg, stock cubes, salt, and aiden fruit and negro pepper which are known in Efik as uyayak and ata respectively. The aiden fruit is a rich source of antioxidant. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Afia efere shares a number of similarities with ofe nsala Ndi Igbo. Both soups are prepared without oil; in fact, the only oil to be found in these soups is from dissolved fat which comes from the skin of the chicken or goat meat. Like nsala, afia efere is best served with pounded yam. Again, both soups are usually prepared for pregnant women and nursing mothers because they contain ingredients like negro pepper and uziza which are believed to aid in the expulsion of blood collected in the uterus during pregnancy [2]. I daresay that the mouth-watering taste of either of these soups is a sweet consolation for the hours spent in the labour room. Lol. However, while the aiden fruit (uyayak) and stockfish are used in preparing afia efere, they are not used in cooking ofe nsala.

In conclusion, afia efere is a simple, delicious soup that should be on the food roster of every home.


[1] Pulse

[2] Ogechukwu Christiana Ezekwem, “Missions and the Rise of the Western Maternity among the Igbo of South-Eastern Nigeria,” (MA Dissertation, Department of History, University of Texas), 16.

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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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