A community platform- Awa Ti Ibadan, www.oyoinsight.com chronicles the story of most patronized mai suya in Ibadan.
Welcome to Right Choice suya spot at Preboye’s World, right opposite Agbowo Shopping Complex. On this Sunday evening, I find myself around the University of Ibadan with a friend. Together we walk to Preboye and there we see this Chief Mai Suya sharpening his knives, preparing to slice some chicken suya. I have always heard stories of his legendary suya since 2006 or so but I never cared to check the joint out.
This evening, I decide to try. There’s a queue and it is a pretty long one, about a six of us are waiting to be attended to. Smoke from thee grill covers up the space but even though we felt discomfort, everyone didn’t mind. More people joined us, cars were parking right by the road and orders were being made. This Mai Suya keeps chopping chicken suya hoisted on sticks into smaller chunks in a large paper foil. While I am waiting for my turn, I walk up to him. I am half buried in the thick smoke of oil and coal.
“Oga mi, are you from Ibadan?” I ask.
He chuckles, almost marvelling at what sort of question I had just asked him. He keeps knifing the pieces of beef suya and chicken suya being passed to him by his two assistants. He takes a quick break, looks at me and answers:
“Ibadan le mi o: I am from Ibadan,” he says and then he proudly announces “Originally, ehn, I am from Kano but I was born here in Ibadan.” As if to further to establish his ties with the city, he asks me as he knives another grilled chicken suya into a large tin foil: “I know almost everywhere in this Ibadan. You know Akobo? I lived there for 13 years.” He looks at me, satisfied that I am convinced that he is legitimate. I smile.
The foil is full. When he wraps the content up, the package is almost the size of a medium sized bucket. Someone comes over to pick the suya-package. The Mai Suya confirms that the real customer already did an electronic transfer for the package. The package is gone and he is on to another ready order. I ask him: “For how long have you been at this spot selling suya?” He chuffs.
“This year will make it my 20th year selling suya here.”
Finally he begins to attend to my order; by now there are almost a dozen people waiting to buy suya. On a Sunday, as early as 7pm!
Now, I am beginning to think that maybe I should be a Mai Suya too.”