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13 Feb

Anyone at the reception of the Barcelona Hotel, Wuse II would have assumed a party was going on the first floor that day. Music reverberated all the way downstairs, someone was speaking through a microphone. The smell wafting out from the room however revealed an ongoing competition on… cake! About ten women stood bent over tables in the hall, concentrating on the white table in front of them laden with numerous items like molds and molds of fondant, cream, paint brushes, bowls and knives, all waiting to be picked up, to be part of the master piece the female bakers were conjuring.

 

It was the Nigerian Cake Festival and Flour Craft Exhibition. Part of the festival was a baking competition.

 

“This is a platform for people that are into the baking business to showcase their talent,” explained the Coordinator and founder of the festival, Mr. Michael Salako.

 

“Cake makers are not being celebrated like those who can sing, dance and act,” he said.

 

“These performers make millions of naira, then they go away and we never see them. Two years later they come back and release a song. They don’t really give back to the society,” he complained.

 

“But cake makers employ at least two people, they help reduce the unemployed population. We should be celebrating these ones,” he added.

 

The rules of the three day long festival went thus: Anyone is allowed to participate in the competition, and whatever they bake at the end of the day gets auctioned off. If a cake is sold, half of the money goes to charity. The beneficiaries of the baking competition were the radio show Berkete Family widows, who reside in Abuja.

 

On day 1, the competing bakers were assigned to bake a cake for the Ministry of Agriculture. Mrs. Esther Oni’s arrived at the hall with her already baked cake along with a precise idea for decorating it to fit the day’s theme, but unfortunately, she did not finish. She lost, but as part of the festival’s rules, Mrs. Oni’s cake was auctioned for N17,000.

 

Luckily, she could still participate the next day. Once it was time to start, Mrs. Oni paid no mind to any distractions, with her assistant next to her to help decorate the pre-made cake so it could describe the day’s theme, Welcome Back to School. Mrs. Oni rolled, twisted, and cut different colored fondants and stuck them on her cake, trying to give it some life and color.

 

Two fondant text books, a couple pencils, rulers, chalkboard, and a piece of paper- all edible, lay sprawled on the cake, like a messy student’s table. On the side of the cake was a small blackboard, creatively designed to look like it had been used, erased, with the new inscriptions of ‘Welcome Back’ on it.

 

To Mrs. Oni’s surprise, she emerged first place, and it made her even happier to know half of her win, as the festival declared, would be given to the widows.

 

“I really have a heart for the widows. It’s a lovely idea, helping them,” Mrs. Oni said.

 

The competitors were split into two groups, the experts, who had been baking for six years or more, and the professionals, who are just starting out.

 

Founder of Pretty Eats, Miss Olanike Catherine Kolawole had been baking for two years, so she was in the professional category. When she showed up to compete on the first day, she didn’t have her mind on the prize money. In fact, she didn’t have any faith at all that she would win.

 

“I came here very late yesterday,” she said. “I thought I was going to be sent home.”

 

She left her hometown Jos at 5 a.m., but met terrible traffic on the way to the capital city. While stuck on the road for hours, and knowing the competition would start at 10 a.m., she lost all hope. She showed up an hour and a half late, and tried her best. She came second. It was a relief.

 

“I thought I wouldn’t be able to put up anything so it came as a surprise that I was second place,” Miss Kolawole lulled.

Miss Kolawole’s cake got auctioned at the highest price, N30,000.

 

The cake festival’s bid to donate to the widows resonated even more from self taught baker Mrs. Farida Bashar, who travelled from Sokoto state with her son to compete. 

 

“I’m really happy because I’m an orphan so I know what it feels like,” she said. “My mother was a widow before she passed,” she added.

 

Yesterday she won third place, and her cake sold at N20,000.

 

One of the beneficiaries of the festival was Chairlady of the widows, Ms. Nkechi Ohiri. She was grateful for the gesture, and lauded the organizers of the show for promising to teach some of the widows how to bake in order to sustain themselves.

 

“I thank God for this opportunity, and the organizers for bringing their minds to help widows,” she said.

 

All of the donations made via the festival, she said, would be given to the widows who cannot afford their children’s school fees.

 

While the chairlady expressed gratitude, the bakers geared up for the next day’s competition with hope that someone would buy their cakes, and help the needy.

 

See below for more pictures:  





 


 



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06 Feb

1.     Soludo: the saga continues from last week. This is the story of one accusation, many replies, twists, and turns. The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Soludo has maintained his stance that N30 trillion of Nigerian money has either been stolen, diverted or unaccounted for under the watch of the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. There seems to be a lull in the plot with the Finance Minister saying she would not ‘join issues with Soludo’. Perhaps the climax is still ahead.

2.    #NigeriaNotWorking : this isn’t exactly news but the hashtag provided many the opportunity to highlight aspects of the country they feel is dysfunctional. Power and security feature prominently.

3.    #_WojuBeforeYouVote: this seems like an admonition to the electorate as the elections draw nearer. Let’s deconstruct this phrase for non-Yoruba speakers. ‘Woju’, literally, means ‘look face’, hence, the message is ‘look before you vote’. Many have complained that only two faces, President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari are instantly recognizable among the candidates.

 4.    #KogiwelcomesGEJ: yes, the President Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign team was in Lokoja, Kogi State capital, during the week, hence, the # KogiwelcomesGEJ. Alas, it appeared to be a half-hearted welcome as the stadium was half empty, or half-full, if you may.

 5.    #MbuTheHatchetman: Joseph Mbu, sometimes referred to as the ‘controversial CP’ gained nationwide fame during his time as Commissioner of Police in Rivers State for his frequent altercations with the governor of the state, Hon Rotimi Amaechi. Now he has assumed duty as the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of the Zone 2 Police Command, Lagos. Many fear that this would be repeated in Lagos. Time will tell.

 6.    Sambo: it is not very often that the Vice President Namadi Sambo is in the news, sadly, he is getting some bad press for saying ‘PDP is more of a Muslim party than APC’ during his party’s presidential campaign rally in Niger State. “APC Chairman Is A Christian; DG Of Campaign Is A Christian; Running Mate Osinbajo Is A Christian,” he said further. The Twitter community took him on immediately. @AAABORODEtweeted, “Namadi Sambo was wrong to campaign along religious lines. You can't even defend this!” While @omojuwa tweeted, “It is a tragedy of our common existence and national integrity that we have a hate monger like Namadi Sambo as Vice President.”

 7.    INEC:  is there a reason the commission shouldn’t trend every day till after the elections? INEC takes the most important decisions concerning the election. They will have the final say on whether or not to hold elections in February, as scheduled.

8.   #MugabeFalls: Zimbabwe’s 90 year old president, Robert Mugabe had a fall. It isn’t supposed to be funny, but the memes, with their captions, have kept us entertained since the unfortunate incident.

 

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