Eka Udo: The Uyo Roadside Buka That Has Become Part of the City’s Icons
If you are an Uyo person through and through, then the name “Eka Udo” is not only a bell-ringer, but also a nomenclature replete with various connotations. The name is both famous and infamous, glorious and inglorious and has gained absolute notoriety for the good, the bad and the unusual.
Etymologically, in our cultural milieu and naming system, “Eka Udo” is just a pet name for the mother of the proverbial “beloved” second son, but in this case, that meaning is wide off the mark.
The “Eka Udo” we are talking about here is the name of the legendary bukateria, located in the heart of Uyo and which has always brought joy and nostalgic food memories to thousands of the city dwellers and counting. It is a place that has lulled and lured foodies from all walks of life, from the upper echelon down to the wretched of the society. It is the food-joints’ food-joint, that caters for the stomach infracstructure of people of all demographics. Kings, queens, political heavyweights, and captains of industries have eaten at “Eka Udo”. Truck pushers and agberos have all also satisfy their aural palettes there too. Simply put, it is a free world food square!
As recounted by a customer of almost three years:
‘My first experience at this larger-than-life restaurant was in circa 2011. A period when the place was peaking in sales and patronage. To my utmost bewilderment and utter befuddlement, people did not only file to wash their plates, they also volunteered to refresh the woods in the fire so that the foods which were usually cooked in large clay pots could get done quickly. Such was the craze and the rave.
Sadly, relocating to a farther settlement meant I took a heartbreaking sabbatical from Eka Udo for years, and only resumed visitation about a year ago’.
Sandwiched between these two periods were the dark years of Eka Udo where the place had to battle vicious slanders and several other controversies. These dark events almost brought an untimely demise to the raving food spot, but thanks to persistence, it weathered the storm and has been back running but now with stilts.
Fast forward to the present, a whole lot has changed at Eka Udo. While food is still being served from the open receptacles, and people are still likely to join a queue in the peak mid morning period, the place has however morphed from a robust, sprawling city centre into a growling, dying monolith of its former self. What remains are the relics of its once glorious past. Nonetheless, while fervent customers and worshippers are still stuck with this food oracle, the totemic, energetic Eka Udo of a woman who used to loom large like a colossus over the very juicy pots had been crocked with an unexplained blindness. Feelers from some superstitious cynics have it that the sudden visual impairment was spiritually directed from competitors. The place is handled feebly by the young Udo who has been forced into manhood thanks to the grit he had learned serving his mother’s iconic customers.
The quality of food has also suffered considerable tilt, while aesthetically, there has been little or no facelift to the surroundings. In fact, the rugged nature of its environments are all vestiges and reminders to its rich, eventful and long-winding history…and the customers don’t mind!
When yours truly embarked on an hunger dissipation tour to the place recently, it was still being thronged with people. People I may assume have permanently trade-bartered their taste buds with Eka Udo’s culinaries. Pot bellied men who have probably fed fat over the years from the wonderfully prepared Eka Udo’s beans were still there. In a way, the place has now gained exclusivity and grandeur. No signposts whatsoever, but those who know, know!
It is a day’s starting point for most Uyo bachelors!
It is still the breakfast spot for some “Mma Ino” just smarting from hotel rooms with some good cash. It is where they eat to recover after grueling nights. Go there in a Saturday mid morning, and you would find them in respectable numbers. You would know them from their extended long lashes and swollen eyes porches. Women generally are the core bits of Eka Udo’s jigsaw.
Be it as it may, however, a visit to Eka Udo never disappoints. The food roll call on display is still extended and full of varieties. A mini parameter fencing has been provided at the dishing area to bar overzealous mouths from falling into the pots. The so-called wane in the place has been insignificant if not sentimental.
However, it is time the young Udo assumed full leadership of the place and sanction a general facelift. The N1.5million grant given to Eka Udo by the State government would be of great help in this regard, so that this legendary food spot can continue in its life saving roles as it had always done since in the early ’90s.
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