Thursday, 15 April 2010


By S. Olanrewaju Disu.

The kola-nut is a very important “cash” crop in our markets in metropolitan Lagos. It is described as a “cash” crop because it is a money-spinning agricultural product in Lagos Area Markets. Whole-sale kola-nut merchants are fairly comfortable in living. All-year round, there are demands for kola-nuts because of its peculiar uses.

The kola-nut is the bitter, caffeine – containing seed of a kola-tree used especially as a masticatory; and in beverages as well as pharmaceuticals.The kolanut-tree, “Cola nitida, Family Starculiaceae, the chocolate family,” is cultivated in tropical areas of Africa.

In the olden days, kola-nut cultivation and trade was so important in Lagos State that an area was named after it – “Igbobi” – i.e. kola-nut forest! Today, this area is inhabited not by kola-nut trees, but a famous High School aptly named after “Igbobi”. There are offices and residential homes, too. Kola-nut tree planting had shifted to neighbouring states within the tropical region of the country.

What are some of the peculiar uses of the kola-nut? People in the northern part of the country traditionally use kola-nut as a masticatory. Their geographical location is semi-arid and kola-nut comes in handy to ward off thirst. And Lagos State is an important transit point in the kola-nut trade from the tropical south to the semi-arid north. One of the items to be purchased and presented as a bridal price in our traditional wedding is the kola-nut! Big, exotic ones, too!

Kola-nut uses stretch more. It is used in colorful chieftaincy ceremonies; as an item of gift to royalty; and also in traditional celebration of new-born babies. Indeed, almost all the ethnic groups in the State use kola-nuts for one traditional ceremony or the other.

Finally, it must be mentioned that local kola-nut merchants have a special way of storing kola-nuts – i.e. wrapping them in special leaves because kola-nuts are vulnerable to insect attacks.

PHOTO’S: Wholesale and retail trade of kola-nuts at the “Mushin Market”.

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