Filmmaker explores history, production of ‘Agege’ Bread in new documentary

A now-viral documentary, ‘Fresh Agege Bread’ that explores the history, production process and importance of ‘Agege’ Bread has been produced by filmmaker, Chika Okoli.

‘Agege’ Bread is a Lagos staple. The soft, stretchy and sweet white bread is composed of the same ingredients as traditional white bread, and follows the same baking process.

However, there is one exception: bakers use an innovative kneading device called the ‘dough brake’ to give it a unique texture that sets Agege bread apart from your average white bread.

This defining feature along with its affordability is what makes Agege bread so popular among the masses—so much so that it has transformed into a cultural symbol of its own.

To some, it’s more than just a meal. It’s a source of income and survival in a country where 44.4% percent of the population live below the poverty line.

A still picture from. The documentary (Source: FABA)

Speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday, Okoli said in a bid to document and preserve Lagos’ one-of-a-kind food culture, she followed food researcher Ozoz Sokoh, on a journey to explore ‘Agege’ Bread in Lagos.

According to her, the documentary traces a series of events that pioneered the production and popularity of Agege bread—from the history of bread in Nigeria to the production process from bakery to consumer.

It features accounts from pioneering bakers, community figure heads and locals, while addressing some of the controversies around the health & safety measures applied in the making of this culturally significant food.

On the inspiration behind the documentary, Okoli said, “Agege Bread is so popular in Lagos but shockingly, there is very little information about it online and the same can be said about other cultural elements that are significant to our way of life.

“There is a huge knowledge gap in our society and now more than ever, a need for us as Africans to evolve from orally passing down our culture to digitally archiving them.”

Okoli’s work documents identity, culture and the daily lifestyle of Africans unrestricted by borders. She is passionate about visual storytelling.

She has worked with reputable companies and individual brands alike in crafting visual narratives from conception to execution.

The New York-based filmmaker founded FABA (for africans by africans), a content company formed out of the growing need for proper visual representation of African countries online.

NAN reports that FABA documents the African way of life and gives free access to the stories they produce online. The 14-minute documentary on ‘Agege’ Bread is one of such videos.

Okoli hopes that the video inspires more people to research and highlight aspects of Nigerian culture. Also, she hopes that more people are aware of the bread’s history from the documentary.

She said, “It’s my hope that after watching this documentary, people are more aware of the history of Agege bread.

“How it’s made and most importantly the general public including bakers are aware that there is a healthier alternative than using bromate.

“I want this documentary to serve as a reference material for anyone looking to research on the subject matter and also inspire more people to document the food culture in Nigeria,” Okoli said. (NAN)

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