I didn’t go to a boarding house for secondary school, so I have no idea what the eating situation there is like. But I’m constantly hearing stories about terrible school food and the weirdest combinations students are made to eat.
I’ve been intrigued about this for the longest time. Today, I finally decided to ask young Nigerians about the most bizarre things they ate in boarding school. Their answers will terrify you.
“We mixed egusi soup and beans because we were late for lunch”
On this particular day, eba and egusi soup was served for lunch. Unfortunately, my friends and I couldn’t make it to the lunch room on time, and all the eba had finished. We collected the soup, and some girl in the lunch room said she had leftover beans from breakfast. Because hunger was killing us, we took it and mixed it with the egusi. We created a space in the middle of the beans and poured the soup, and that’s how we ate it. The soup was so watery, some ate it like beans and garri. They’d take one spoon of beans, then drink the egusi.
Another time, we had Jollof garri. This was made by cooking raw garri, palm oil, crayfish, onions and pepper, in a pot with no water. I still eat it to this day. The only problem is the severe constipation you’ll face much later.
“I drank garri with sardine inside”
— Abiola*, 21
School food always tasted terrible, and we would do anything not to eat it. This meant we had to rely on our provisions whenever we were hungry. Once our provisions and money for snacks finished, we had to come up with ways to combine foods so we won’t die of starvation.
A lot of the weird things we ate revolved around eba. There was “ebansa”:eba and sardine, “ebange”: eba and geisha and “ebanspice”: eba with Maggi, salt, pepper and a little water. But it all started with “ebanketch”, which is eba and ketchup.
I remember a time we stole scent leaves from someone’s farm, washed and cut it, put it in a plate of water, and added salt, Maggi and pepper. We ate it with eba. When the eba finished, we ate the rest of the “soup” with Cabin biscuit. We spent the rest of the day going back and forth to the toilet. It was epic.
We also tried beans and pineapple, bread and palm oil, boiled egg with pepper, salt and Maggi. Sometimes, I drank garri with sardine inside.
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“We ate termites and raw corn”
— Ogochukwu*, 21
Termites were a special delicacy for students in my boarding school.
We’d catch them by putting bowls of water underneath the lights they were swarming around, before going for prep at 7 p.m. When we came back at 10 p.m., there would be a lot of termites in the bowl. For the next two hours, we would sit and stick long broomsticks through them and wrap in newspapers. In the morning, after breakfast, we’d head to the kitchen and roast them over coal, garnished with salt and pepper. We ate the termites while drinking garri.
We also ate raw corn. My school was a federal government college, so there were many farms owned by staff and people who rented land around it. We were prohibited from going to the farms, but we always snuck in to steal corn. We’d try to roast it at night over the coal iron in our room, but the smell always spread immediately, so we couldn’t roast for more than five minutes. This meant we always ended up eating it raw, but the corn was very milky and juicy, so we didn’t mind. I’m sure this contributed to my appendicitis a few months after graduating.
“Fasting made me eat eba and beans”
— Fatimah*, 20
During Ramadan, we ate beans and eba for Iftar in the evening. Due to the fasting, we had to combine our afternoon meal(beans) and evening meal (eba and soup). It actually tasted nice. There was also this meal called “fetch”, which was basically eba mixed with sardine or geisha. We ate it like eba and soup. It was very disgusting, but we ate it almost every weekend because we had no choice; the school food was awful.
“We made our sandwiches with groundnut, milo and milk”
On Sundays, our school served us bread, butter, Milo and milk for breakfast. And my friends would make a sandwich out of all the ingredients, including Milo and milk, then add sardine. Jollof rice with boiled eggs and fruits was served for lunch one particular day. I’d kept my breakfast till after lunch because I wanted to add the boiled eggs and groundnuts to my sandwich. So it became a sardine, butter, milk, Milo, groundnut and boiled egg sandwich. I loved it.
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“We created our own cereal by mixing cornflakes, garri and sardine”
— Itohan, 21
We mixed cornflakes with garri, sardine and pepper. It was a delicacy we ate once in a while, usually on Saturdays. Some of my roommates would do just garri or cornflakes, but I liked to do both. And it had to be Nasco because it tasted better than any other cereal. Everything about the combination was elite; the crunch, the flavour, the pepper… they mixed well to make such a delicious meal. I still eat it at home once in a while.
“One of the best things we had was Milo candy”
— Kai, 22
Back in school, we mixed ground cabin biscuits with butter, milk and sugar. If we had money, we’d also add chocolates. It tasted amazing, much better than school food. We also did this thing where we’d put Milo in sheets of paper and place it under our mattresses for at least a day. The next day, it would be really hard like candy. We loved it so much because we didn’t have access to candy or anything sweet in our school, except when people’s parents visited. We also mixed Tasty Time and Nutri C to make soda during hostel parties. It tasted great back then, but it’s not something I’d drink now.
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