Nigerian Boli and Appreciative Inquiry: Teaching our Kids to Appreciate Cultures

My girls have been begging me to make Nigerian boli.  Which might seem like a strange request from two little American girls, had we not been reading Catch that Goat: A Market Day in Nigeria on repeat over the last six months.

In this colorful and hilarious story, Adika is told by her mama to keep an eye on the goat.  Naturally, the naughty goat immediately takes off into the jam-packed, bursting-with-life market place, knocking over paint cans and helping himself to a little bit of everything as he goes.

There are oh so many things I love about this book, but what comes to mind first is the exiting and compelling impression of Nigeria it is imprinting on my little ones.  How often do we back-peddle, after hearing fear-invoking and pity-inducing stories of foreign places, to come up with positive attributes about a particular country or culture?  There will come a day when my girls will watch the news with us and learn about boko haram and religious conflict.  Those conversations will be critically important.  Yet how will their view of Nigeria – and indeed of the world – be impacted when their very first impression of a culture is a positive one?

In international development circles there is a tool called Appreciative Inquiry that empowers community members to articulate their strengths, in order to develop programs (for poverty reduction, etc.).  So often our starting point is one of deficit: we assume people are poor, needy, helpless.  Appreciative Inquiry assumes that all people do have gifts and skills and dreams.  When we begin with these strengths, rather than with the “problem”, we are truly able to work toward ensuring people have the resource they need to thrive.

So, what are our books teaching our little ones about other cultures?

The pages of Catch that Goat are filled with vibrant, entrepreneurial, hard-working Nigerians.  This is what my girls are learning about Nigeria.  The book’s author, Polly Alakija, who is married to a Nigerian and has lived in the country since 1990, explains: “I hope that without moralising I am painting a true and positive view of contemporary Nigeria — a country that does tend to suffer from bad press.”

It helps that we were able to share such an AMAZINGLY delicious Nigerian snack today as well!  And that brings us back to the boli.  Boli are grilled plantains often sold as snacks along the road, or even as full meals with accompaniments.  I looked up several recipes, and decided to keep ours as simple as possible so you can replicate it at home.  We ate ours with peanut butter West African groundnut sauce.

Nigeria 1

Simple Nigerian Boli

  1. Peel two ripe plantains.  (Some folks prefer green plantains, but they do get sweeter as they ripen so I prefer mine yellow with brown spots.)
  2. Place in a baking pan and brush lightly with a bit of oil.
  3. Place in the oven under the broiler for about 3 minutes until the tops turn golden brown, then flip and place under broiler for two more minutes.
  4. Serve with peanuts (in our case, peanut butter) or grilled fish!

I’m not kidding, my 1 year old’s plate was licked clean within one minute.

Enjoy your boli, and your adventuring, and your learning-alongside-your-kids as we seek to see all the good in our world!

Nigeria 4

Want your own copy of Catch that Goat?  You can find it by clicking here!

Be sure to use the code NEWYEAR when you check out to get a **FREE** book with every 3 you buy! : )




One thought on “Nigerian Boli and Appreciative Inquiry: Teaching our Kids to Appreciate Cultures

  1. This is beautiful (your post and the book also lol), in particular, ‘Yet how will their view of Nigeria – and indeed of the world – be impacted when their very first impression of a culture is a positive one?’
    We appreciate your concise explanation of ‘appreciative inquiry’, this is a new term for us and we hope to explore this in greater detail thanks to you! Thank you for sharing! 🙂


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