At night fall, Yakubu Adamu, who sells suya at Agboju market, Festac town, Lagos State, fans the flames of charcoal grills under naked light bulbs. The resultant smoke accompanied with the smell of spices and cooking meat arouses the taste of anyone around the area. His stand is a popular joint for commuters, motorists and passers-by, every evening at the market. He told me that he has been roasting suya for a long time on the same spot. Indeed, Adamu is well-known in the area and people always await his arrival every evening.
A dried version of Suya is called Kilishi
Although Suya originated in the Northern parts of Nigeria, it has permeated the Nigerian society, being affordable for all and available everywhere. It has been called a unifying factor in Nigeria. Suya has become a Nigerian national dish with different regions claiming the superiority of their recipe and methods of preparation, but similar grilled meat recipes are common in many West African countries.
Using open flames to grill meat leads to the production of chemicals called carcinogens which cause cancer in the body. They can be biological, physical, radiation or chemical and particularly exert their effects on people who are most sensitive to them.
The most important is colonic cancer, which is the cancer of the large intestine. This colonic cancer in human beings is mostly caused as a result of people’s dietary habit. The sanitary condition of suya preparation depends on where the consumer buys from. If for instance, a suya spot is close to a toilet, diseases can be spread and one can easily contract them but if one is buying it in a mall where it has been packaged, he or she might be safe.
One has to also consider where the meat is gotten from because the mallams slaughter the cows and prepare them as suya, such meat can be infected with tapeworms, pinworms or whipworms and these can be passed on to humans. Ideally, veterinary doctors are supposed to inspect the animals and do so again after the animals have been slaughtered before declaring the meat safe for consumption. This is supposed to be done for all animals and the meat sold in the market.