Akara Osu: Sumptuous And Delicious Delicacy That Should Be Revived
Ijesa people are known for the rich agricultural land of rain forest which support the cultivation of cocoa, kolanut, plantain and yam. We are also known for dexterity in trade and investments. The third attribute is our traditional cuisines of pounded yam and Akara. As we all know, pounded yam is made from yam while Akara is made from bean. Our focus here today is Akara.
AKARA business has been an age-long business of our women in OSU town. The business witnessed boom in the 1970s to 90s with the construction of the express road by the Sonnel Bonnel which passed through the town and opened up Osu to heavy traffic as travellers going to Ekiti, Ondo, both Northern and Eastern parts of Nigeria then passed through Osu.
Then, Osu was a bubbling town as our women who engaged in selling bean cake were able to make good fortune to support their husbands. Many of our mothers were rich enough to build their own houses and met the educational needs of their children. We rocked parties with proceeds from friends whose mothers were Akara Sellers.
To be a big boy or girl then, you must be the son or daughter of Akara seller. Many prominent and successful leaders today in different walks of life were trained through the proceeds from akara business. Akara had a positive impact on Osu community, it has produced giants.
The business suddenly collapsed when the new express road which bypasses the town was constructed in year 2000 when vehicles going to Ekiti, Ondo, Eastern and Northern parts of the country no longer passed through Osu as they use the bypass right from ipetumodu cutting Ile-Ife and Osu off.
If you want to know about the importance of Osu and its environs, you must read about the exploits of Owa Atakunmosa who fought southward to defend the territory known now as Atakunmosa East and West. Oba Atakumosa was the 8 Owa Obokun of ijeshaland. He ruled in 15th century. He ruled twice. He left the throne and sojourned with his siblings at Benin and later came back to his throne. He did a lot of things for ijeshaland. He established some notable quarters in ijeshaland.
Therefore, the significance of Atakunmosa flank to Ijesaland is not only historic, cultural, but militarily significant in the protection of the entire kingdom. It is also an important gateway to the heart of Ijesaland. Every patriotic son and daughter of Ijesaland must join hands in ensuring that the gateway to Ijesa kingdom is giving a befitting outlook.
We must evolve a development agenda for the artery from Osu through to Ibodi, RLG and terminating at Iloko Junction. Let us think of ornament trees and flowers along the divider, let's grow grasses and lawn with beautiful lay-by from Osu to Iloko Junction. I envisage a beautiful scenery along the route.
As Osu town is the getaway to Ijesa Kingdom, the development of the axis should be well planned and properly coordinated. We must make deliberate efforts to make it alluring, inviting and attractive to visitors and travellers.
The town is almost desolate occasion by low commercial activities. The age long trade of Akara has been ruptured by the diversion of the express road which now bypasses Osu. There is therefore the need to be creative to attract development to the area. One way of doing this is to link the town to the new express road. Fortunately, the access road is not too long, just about one km to the express road. The road therefore should be tarred and constantly maintained to allow free and easy movement in and out of Osu.
Another option available on boosting the economy of the region is by reviving the Akara industry, yes I call it an industry for it is our main source of income in the past, it was a glorious era in the life of my people. To reinvent this economic viability of the past, we need to open up roughly 3 acres of land at Iloba-Iwaro Junction. Let's create a hub at this junction which is an important terminal and good artery for the kingdom.
Let the government consider building shops, sink borehole, construct security post and energize the area with electricity. A mini trailer park should also be established to create space for lorries and other heavy duty vehicles. Already, the terminal is a collection centre for farm produce by business men and women who supply fruits to Lagos.
A structure can be put in place for use by local farmers who bring out their produce to sell at the Centre. Our Local Government can look for a creative ways of funding the development of the terminal. All our development experts, planners and those in the construction industry must come together now to work out and design acceptable features for the artery aims at creating beehive of economic activities.
Akara industry or business if you like can generate one thousand jobs for us in that corridors. Our women and youths could be empowered and live meaningful life. I know the commercial values of this trade as I have witnessed it in the past. Petty trade, buying and selling are engine of growth and development. I known the importance of Akara Osu.
It is sweet, hot, garnished with onions and pepper and spiced with Ede (crayfish) to give desired taste. This particular variety of Akara is peculiar to Ijesa people alone. If it is not Akara Osu it can not be Akara Osu. Bola Are, a popular Yoruba gospel musician waxed a popular lyric in praise of Akara Osu as delicious delicacy. Akara Osu was once the toast of the nation. No traveler would pass through Osu without having a bite of the product.
We should not allow this popular and special delicacy to go into extinction. We must revive the industry, we must bring back the memory of Akara Osu. We can empower our women and the vulnerable persons through the selling of AKARA OSU. Ha Akara Osu, my favourite delicacy. Honestly, I am salivating as I write this. Akaaaara Osu.
Wole Ajewole is a community leader in Osun State. He has interest in community development and rural integration.