I was born and raised in London to Nigerian parents at a time where being any type of African wasn’t considered “cool”. Many times, sadly, instead of embracing my culture, I shied away from it. In a bid to cultivate patriotism and cultural appreciation, my mother encouraged me to visit Nigeria and see first hand why Nigerians are considered the happiest people in the world. Apprehensive but intrigued, I flew six hours from London to Lagos. On arrival, I was enthusiastically greeted by Mr Latundé, my Aunt’s oh-so-charismatic driver. He barely spoke a word of English but decided on our first encounter that my nickname was to be “agrik goloba”. I didn’t know what it meant but I appreciated the friendly gesture. We arrived at my Aunt’s house where grandparents, cousins and family friends kindly gathered to embrace me – each one commenting on my slender physique and how it needed to be put right by fattening me up (subtlety isn’t a Nigerian trait!) Funnily (or annoyingly – I’m yet to decide), I later discovered that my new nickname meant meatless chicken. Of all the people that tried to feed me, my grandmother was especially determined – vowing to send me home two sizes bigger (a prospect I wasn’t particularly thrilled about). She invited me to dinner at her home. Knowing that I am a fan of seafood, she prepared a delectable dish comprising mussels, squid, prawns and fish in a spicy tomato sauce with sautéed spinach – she called it efo riro (eh-foh ree-ro). Up until then, I was still trying to figure out what made Nigerians the happiest people in the world – after the first taste of efo riro, it suddenly dawned on me! Initially, I wasn’t too thrilled about the prospect of going up any dress sizes but for efo riro, it was totally worth it! I ate a lot of rice and efo riro on my trip, rejoined the gym when I got back and, much to my mother’s delight, discovered an appreciation for having such a rich and warm culture with such incredible food!