US returnee, Ifeoma Uzoma, has said singing while selling ‘Ogiri’ has brought her fame. ‘Ogiri’ is a food seasoning mostly used by
people from the eastern part of the country. The middle age woman became an internet sensation when a video, showing where she was hawking ‘Ogiri’ in the open market with a thick American accent went viral after one of her customers posted it on Facebook. The one minute video has been shared and liked by thousands of people across the globe. She is now being re-packaged by a popular company.
Speaking with Titilayo Oyebola Adelagun-Oyinsan and Yomi Owope on #WakeUpNigeria, she said: ”My name is Ifeoma Uzoma, from Imo State, Nigeria. I’m proudly a promoter of ‘Ogiri’ as a natural and healthy soup seasoning. I’m one that believes in hard work and dedication. Everything I do, I do with my heart and I try to bring joy to people because of my personality. I did all of my schooling in Imo State from primary through to Tertiary before I traveled to the US and returned.”
Why did you take to ‘Ogiri’ selling?
I had tried several businesses that were not moving well. I sold pepper, Akamu (also known as pap), nylon bags and most recently ‘Ogiri’. One day, I decided to go back to God and ask what exactly I needed to do, I got a clear inspiration from him to take up ‘Ogiri’. There was this elderly woman in the same market where I sold nylon, I approached her and told her I was interested in selling ‘Ogiri’. She encouraged me even though she initially said it was a skill of old women in the state. I convinced her I was ready and willing to do this and she asked me a couple of questions and gave me a trial. The result was perfect and that was how it all started.
Why did you allow yourself to be recorded in the first place, and what first came to your mind when your attention was drawn to it?
I am a very jovial person by nature; in fact in the market where I sell, I was able to differentiate myself because of my unique style of selling with a song. People look forward to my coming with the usual, ‘O.G.I.R.I, Ogiri’ song. On this day, I was in the market doing my usual selling when a customer, Ugoma (I remember her name) approached me to buy. In my usual way, we exchanged jokes and laughed so much that she said to me, ‘I have to record this and put you on Facebook’. I didn’t think it was a serious thing; I let her record and forgot about it. She bought her ‘Ogiri’ and left.
About a month later, I started getting calls and messages from people who had watched the video. I even got orders from Nigerians living abroad. I couldn’t believe that the simple video I did a month before had led to this. It hasn’t been the same since then.
Do you still want to continue selling ‘Ogiri’?
Yes of course! I have been working with Mumpreneur’s branding team, Branded.ng and my new tag line now is, ‘Ogiri makes the difference’ and it actually does. Like I said before, I just want to raise the needed funds to increase capacity and introduce variants of this wonderful African soup seasoning and launch a village kitchen for soups and spices. Let the world know about this ‘Ogiri’ and its nutritional value.
How are you enjoying your instant fame and how do you intend to make use of it?
I never saw this coming! For me, I am not dwelling on the fame as you would call it; even though it brought fame but I see it as a charge to do more. I really was just doing what my hands found to do with all my heart. My dream is to increase my production capacity and set up what you would call a village soup kitchen, for native soups made with ‘Ogiri’. ‘Ogiri’ is usually looked down on because of its stinking smell and when I got the inspiration from God to take it up, he reminded of a song about ‘Ogiri’ that goes like this – “Onu ahu gboro Ogiri asu, ga emecha roro ya ra” which means, ‘The mouth that spits on ‘Ogiri’, will later pack it and lick’.
What has this video done for you?
I believe there is time for everything. I have been receiving calls from people who want to meet me and know me.
What do you have to say to those who believe otherwise about you; they still believe you actually took to the street to sell ‘Ogiri’ to get public sympathy?
People assume that only illiterates sell in the market square. Far from it! We all know what the situation is like in the world today. I was only doing what I had to do to survive. Besides, I got a clear inspiration from God when I had tried other things that didn’t work. I believe whatever your hands find to do, do with all your heart.