The Rise of the Dollar and the Price of Akara


They said the value of the naira is falling.

I ignored it and refused to worry myself over it. I’m usually good at that – ignoring issues that would give other people sleepless nights and high blood pressure - after all, life must go on...unless you have a death wish. God knows I don’t!

So, I wasn’t buggered about the naira devaluation for a while until the morning I went to buy me some Akara for breakfast.

Akara – that traditional fried bean cake that’s a darling to the appetite of every Nigerian, the one true snack or meal that brings Nigerians of all classes together. When you happen upon an Akara joint which in many cases is just a woman sitting at some street corner frying and selling Akara, you get to see customers from all these different categories. Akara has this strong uncontestable and distinct aroma that even puff-puff (another Nigerian favourite) cannot rival. If you ever buy it and want to hide it from colleagues at work, the sweet smell will snitch on you; everyone will notice Akara is in the house.

Okay, so before I wander too far, I was talking about naira falling…what has this got to do with Akara?

Well, there’s this buoyant Akara Joint not far from my office where I work and its owned by this Calabar or Igbo woman and her friend or sister. They sell both Akara and Pap of which some people eat right there (there were benches and tables for that purpose) while others buy take-away to their offices.

Akara and Puff puff sharing the same tray. Akara is the bigger one.


The Akara was usually sold 10 naira per piece. This meant that with 50 naira, you could buy 5 pieces; enough to eat with bread or with any other accompanying food item that goes well with Akara. So people were shocked when they got there one morning to hear that Akara was now 3 for 50 naira.

Why?

Because dollar now costs more.

We (the customers) all began to question how on earth the dollar is affecting Akara, one of the cheapest things anybody could buy and eat. It became a fact-finding discussion and we learnt that it was the groundnut oil being used to fry that had gone up in cost.

I was baffled. Groundnut oil? Are we still importing groundnut oil? Don’t we make that here in Naija?

So we threw up another suggestion – why not use palm oil then? Isn’t that made in Nigeria?
The suggestion lingered in the air like a rhetoric as no one answered it.

Later on I got wind of another info that made me fall flat - that we import beans and that the cost of beans had gone up. For real? I thought we grew beans? As at the time of writing this I cannot yet confirm the truth of this info though.

Meanwhile, there’s another Akara joint nearer to my office which is the off-shoot of a small Moimoi specialist restaurant called No Left Overs which suddenly changed their own price of 10 naira per piece of Akara to 50 naira per 3 pieces last year before the dollar issue arose. They had been having high patronage but for some reason they decided to hike the price and reduce the size of the Akara. This made me and many other customers shift to patronizing the Calabar woman whose Akara was way bigger and sold for 10 naira per piece.

Now the naira has fallen and she has switched the price too.

Anyway, the Calabar woman is still preferable because she managed to make the Akara slightly bigger since its now 50 naira per 3 piece. I’m now wondering what No Left Overs will end up doing about its Akara, now that dollar has gone up. Will they start selling it 20 naira per piece?

As for me, I’m still baffled…I still don’t get how Akara is affected by the dollar.




0 Screamer(s):