Branding is everything and everything is a brand. But has anyone considered how suya is such an integral part of our brand identity? Suya is uniquely and proudly Nigerian and I know how Nigerians living abroad crave suya. Some Nigerians claim to make suya abroad. I have tasted some, but they’re never able to get it right. It’s just not the same thing as what we savour back home. There was a popular suya place in London.
I don’t know if the place is still there but I remember the suya was nothing to write home about. Why are we not exporting this special delicacy? As we think up ways to diversify our economy and earn foreign exchange we must begin to brand those things that are uniquely Nigerian and suya is one of them!
Consider the Chinese and how they have exported their cuisine to every part of the world. There is virtually no city in the world today where you don’t have a Chinese restaurant. And these restaurants are usually run by the Chinese, because as they say, if it’s not Chinese, it’s not the same thing as Chinese! How did they do it? In several big cities around the world, you even have what they call Chinatown, a mini China where even the sign boards are written in Chinese. And where of course you will find several Chinese restaurants. In Nigeria, our suya has a similar character. Only the Northerners make it. And they have taken it to every part of the country. If you see a Yoruba man making suya, you’re not likely to touch it. Similarly, if you go to a Chinese restaurant and it is an Igbo man running the show, you may not wish to eat the food. The reason is that the Northerners have closely guarded the secret recipe that gives suya that special spicy taste. Similarly, the Chinese have kept their culinary secrets close to their chests. I remember visiting a family friend in Europe whose wife had worked with some Chinese employers.