Hankering for Nigerian Swallow Food in South Africa

By Tomi Akinsulire

I was in Johannesburg, aka JOZI and Cape Town in August 2015. I had a fantastic experience visiting Vilakazi Street, Gold Reef, Lion Park World, Elephant Sanctuary, Montecasino, Lesedi Cultural Village, Table Mountain, Robben Island amongst many others.

It was a week long trip and I missed my Nigerian cuisines. I asked my tour guide for a Naija joint or someplace I could get to eat familiar meals (since I already got tired of eating hotel meals of cabbages & carrots). We got to this restaurant in Cape Town (after some three days of ‘hunger’ for my swallow kind of Naija food in Jo’burg) and I felt like crying.

Arrival in SA…
Typical meal…
Robben Island…

How should I begin this ordeal? Let me start by mentioning my entrance into the restaurant, with the anticipation of eating eba and egusi soup or even some ‘plain boiled rice.’ I glanced around, anxious to see pictures of the menu in order to identify with at least one familiar meal. I saw nothing!

There was only a dance troupe engaged for the evening to entertain foreigners. I got pissed off at the dance ceremonies preceding the starter meals, because I really wanted to eat some swallow and not to watch dances! When the starter meal finally arrived in a ceremonial manner, it was nothing expected, but some drinks and chops from other African countries like; Zimbabwe.

On the way to Winelands…
At Lesedi Cultural Village…
Lion Park…

From starter to dessert, there was no Naija cuisine. I called to see the manager, who happened to be an Ibo guy. I said to him “Did you not notice I hardly touch all the meals you’ve brought so far? Where is eba and egusi category? Shebi you be Igbo?”

I got back home and googled up some Nigerian joints in SA, with a couple of them now in my archive. I am sure going to have fun-filled moments anytime I return to South Africa. Yes! South Africa is a very beautiful destination to visit. Make plan to go there sometime!


Tomi Akinsulire hails from Ogun State in Southwest Nigeria. She is the owner of travel and tours company, Sweetours Holidays. Tomi loves to travel and sing. She sent in this article to Afro Tourism in 2016.

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