Masa is a very common meal in most Kebbi homes. It is a major delicacy that majority of people in the community prefer to eat, particularly in the morning before they set out for their daily businesses. The roundly moulded traditional meal otherwise known as Waina is mostly made with rice, wheat or millet. Masa is considered a special delicacy among the people of Kebbi State, hence it is often served at occasions such as marriage events, male child circumcision celebrations, Quranic graduation, thanks giving events, turbaning and child naming ceremonies.
In Birnin Kebbi, it is common to see the young and the old, government officials, security agents, bankers and other society personalities gather at masa joints as early as 8 am. At some joints the sellers usually find it difficult to control the number of customers that are struggling to be served at the same time. It is also common to see people engaging one another in hot arguments, and even quarrelling over who is supposed to be served next by the seller.
Malam Yahya Sarki, a journalist from the royal family in Birnin Kebbi said “Here in Kebbi as well as in other Hausa communities people cherish masa so much. It is a very important meal in every home here. In the morning, we take it as a breakfast. Many people prefer to eat it in the morning, because once they eat it they can stay for a long time without eating any other food. It is common to see many parents coming out in the morning to buy masa for their children to take to school. People in Kebbi regard masa as a very important menu and this informs why it is usually the most preferred meal at occasions such as festivals, weddings, naming ceremonies and many others. Any event or occasion where it is not served is not regarded as important here. Even in the royal houses masa is an important food to them. This shows how important its consumption is to us here.”
Another Kebbi indigene, Alhaji Sahabi Abdullahi who was at one of the masa joints around Aleru Abdul area of Birnin Kebbi, said masa is a regular breakfast meal of his family. “I don’t think there is any other meal we like to eat in the morning in my family other than masa .We love it so much in my family. I hardly go out to buy it because my wife usually prepares it every morning for us. It is one of the few meals that can sustain many families in this period of economic hardship, because it is cheap to make, with little money we can buy masa and we won’t feel hungry . It is not only in Kebbi that people prefer to eat masa .It is also eaten in other communities in the north, because we consider it as an important delicacy. But here we prefer the one that is made with rice.”
Zuwaira is a 23 year old girl. She is well known for her tasty masa in the GRA area in Birnin Kebbi. Beside the special taste she is adding to the meal, the availability of assorted meats such as cow tail, cow leg and fried chicken make people to patronize her more than the other masa sellers in the area. On daily basis it is usual to see her customers hanging around the place ,while others would wait patiently in their cars for her to prepare the masa for them. “I have been making masa for the past three years now. I learnt it from my mother. We are three in the family, but I am the only one who took after my mother in the masa business. I chose to sell my masa in this area and to the glory of God as you can see people have been coming in large numbers every day to buy from me. They realize I prepare it very well.They can as well get whatever they want to eat it with such as cow tail, cow leg and chicken. We serve it with vegetable or dried pepper. It depends on what my customers want to eat it with.”
In Kebbi, people love to eat masa and there is hardly any area of Birnin Kebbi that there are no masa joints. Masa sellers are at every government office, motor parks and at every available space in the township. A Customer at one of the masa joints, Abdullahi said “This is so because it is a meal people love so much in this part of the north. Some of us who eat it like it, because once we eat it in the morning it would sustain us through the afternoon ,so all we need is just to be drinking water.”
Zuwaira continued “Every day I start preparing my masa as early as 6 am and by 2 to 3 pm I must have finished selling it, because people patronize me a lot. On daily basis I make use of 12 to 13 bowls of rice to make it. In a day I make up to N31,000 to N32,000 as profit. The least I get as profit sometimes when the patronage is low is N28,000. I buy four cow tails, baking powder, maggi, white rice, flour, yeast and vegetable oil daily to prepare it. I am always here from Monday to Sunday because they demand for it every day, and I must be here to satisfy the needs of my customers.”
Abdullahi Yaro is a staff of one of the banks in Birnin Kebbi, while speaking to our reporter on his preference for masa he said “It is my regular meal in the morning. I don’t have time to go out looking for what to eat as a banker, so I come here regularly to buy masa for my breakfast and lunch. As you can see it is a nice meal and I must say I do enjoy it very well compared to any other food in the morning.”
Hajiya Jumai Zuru is a 62-year-old woman. She is probably the most patronized masa seller in the GRA in Birnin Kebbi at a spot which is opposite Senator Adamu Aliero’s residence. She said “This is my 15th year in the masa business. My mother started this business since when they were selling it for a kobo. I learnt how to make it from her. I have a special way of making my own masa, and that is why people have been patronizing me. When I get the white rice I make sure I wash it well, grind it and mix it with salt, onion, flour and other ingredients to make it tasty. I can as well make masa with millet, wheat and guinea corn. You can see how people queue up here, even big government officials and security people come here every day to buy masa. It is a very special meal among us here in Kebbi and it serves so many purposes. We enjoy it during naming ceremonies, wedding and turbaning ceremonies. There is hardly any gathering, entertainment and festival where it will not be served.
I am making a lot of profit from this business. Honestly, I have achieved a lot selling masa. I prepare it on many occasions on request. Some government officials demand for it during their events and even private people often demand for the meal. With this business, I am able to solve many of my financial needs and that of my relatives. Despite the economic situation, the business is still good for me. I make use of up to 10 bowls of rice daily to make it, and I make up to N20,000 profit every day. I didn’t employ anybody to assist me in the business, except the almajiri boys who often volunteer to assist me anytime I come to prepare and sell it. Every business has its own hazard. The heat I encounter daily from the fire is not good for my health. I was advised to be drinking milk, malt and water melon to suppress its effect. I urge other women not to stay idle, they can as well engage in this business because it is profitable. It is a meal that most people prefer to eat every day here.”
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