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Garri! Garri! Garri!

Garri, what would we be without you? It has  become such an in-disposable food item in Nigeria that so many of us seem to assume it has always been around since forever. Today we explore the origin of the word ‘Garri’

garri (1)

Garri originates from the Hausa Language in Northern Nigeria, it is used to describe any powdery material especially foodstuff. Flour grains e.g. Garin Dawa (guinea corn flour), Garin masara (maize flour), Garin sukkhari (sugar). It can also be used for ground substances, as in Garin Magani (powdery medicine).

Flour food stuff mixed with water used to be the major diet in the Hausa lands and almost all parts of Nigeria for many centuries. This was especially used by traveler who cannot always carry cooked meals. Traveling on horseback on donkeys and trekking takes very long time and required ready fast food. For example, nowadays it takes 1hr 15min to go from Kano from Zaria, Before 120 years ago it was a standard 5 days journey and you need to take a lot of “garri” with you.

The age of this ancient word in Hausa language can be realized by its occurrence in old proverbs and in the naming of towns and villages.

1. “Yaro da garri abokin tafiyar manya”. Meaning; A young boy who has garri (powdered cereal) can journey with the elders.

2. Wanda Allah ya zuba ma garin nono ba zai sha da tsamiya Ba. Meaning; who God powers his garri with milk, will not have to drink it with just tamarind. ( milk with garri was a luxury while tamarind fruit available in the forest can just improve the taste.) 3.” Wanka da garri ba ya maganin yunwa. ” Meaning; taking a bath with garri is not going to cure hunger.

It is also the name of an old town in Sokoto state called Shagari (Home town to former Nigerian President Shehu Shagari).

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