Getting to hear the word ‘Indomie Generation‘ on a daily basis is quite common in Nigeria. Being Africans, Nigerians revel in age and count it all joy, compared to certain people from other countries of the world who get offended for being referred to as ‘old’.
Nigeria is a highly cultural country with about 180 million people, 256 ethnic groups and 371 tribes. Despite its huge ethnocultural diversity, age signifies respect, wisdom and experience. Suffice to say referring to someone as old in Nigeria is saying they are quite experienced and equipped with wisdom while according them their due respect.
The ‘older’ class of Nigerians are never slack to refer to the ‘younger generation’ as ‘Indomie generation’, particularly when the latter cannot comprehend or understand a piece of equipment, a slang, a television advert, an old singer or film actor who is either late or retired and is no longer active in their field, etc.
A Brief History of Indomie in Nigeria
Indomie is a brand of instant noodle produced by an Indonesian company; Indofood Sukses Makmur Tbk, better known as Indofood. It is distributed in Australia, Asia, Africa, New Zealand, United States, Canada, Europe, and Middle Eastern countries. Indomie, according to Wikipedia, was reportedly exported into Nigeria in 1988 but its noodle division was never established in Nigeria until 1996 at Ota, Ogun State.
De United Foods Industries Limited (DUFIL) PRIMA FOODS PLC was incorporated in 2001 as a private limited liability company at Choba, Port Harcourt, Rivers State. It later went on to become the holding company of the group in the year 2008 after a restructuring exercise which saw the company converted to a Public Limited Company (PLC).
The First Noodle Brand in Nigeria
The presence of Indomie in Nigeria, in the 80s can be disputed. The first-ever noodle brand in Nigeria was the ‘2 minutes noodles’ by Maggi (a company acquired by Nestlé in 1947) and it was the only noodle brand in the Nigerian market, albeit less popular at the time for obvious reasons. It was quite pricy and considered a luxury in most Nigerian homes. It wasn’t until September 2015 that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) warned Nigerians about Maggi’s brand of noodles of being poisonous after a major scandal erupted in India and findings pointed out that the noodles contained lead.
At the time, NAFDAC’s release read:
“The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) hereby brings to the attention of the general public that some Maggi noodle produced by Nestle India contained excess lead and were therefore deemed unsafe and hazardous for human consumption.
Nestle has recalled its Maggi instant noodles from stores across India following the report by the Indian Food Safety Regulators of probable lead contamination. Lead exposure causes an estimated 143,000 deaths a year worldwide.
In view of the potential safety concerns on consumption of the lead contaminated Maggi instant noodles, NAFDAC warns that Maggi instant noodles produced by Nestle India should not be consumed.
Departmental stores, Wholesalers and retailers should also be proactive in ensuring that such products are brought to NAFDAC if they come across any, and under no circumstances should such products be sold.”
Despite the presence of Maggi’s ‘2 minutes noodles’, a typical birthday in Nigeria was luxurious when the celebrant is presented with a basin of white rice and stew with countable meats and soft, bottled drinks. Most kids at the time never had any idea of noodles, nor had seen one. Jollof Rice had barely broken into homes to becoming a regular at the time. It was purely a party dish and something to die for.
With its claimed ‘debut’ in 1988, Indomie never broke even until the mid-90s, short before DUFIL PRIMA would go on to be incorporated as a private liability limited company in 2001. Its emergence quickly ushered in noodle brands such as Uno, Dangote Noodles, Tummy Tummy, Honeywell Noodles and a host of others.
The Meaning of Indomie Generation
‘Indomie Generation‘ is a Nigerian parlance that refers to Millennials Generation Z; people born around 1995-2019 who were born at the time Indomie, as a brand gained greater prominence in the Nigerian society. It also refers to people born around this time with no reference pre-2000s. It is also the generation born completely within the technological age, war on terror, and multiculturalism. This generation is the first true global culture as their characteristics and trend are more uniform across the globe as they become the most open-minded generation to date.
While its origin and originator remains unknown, it has become the marker for generational wars in Nigeria in the past decade both on social media and within gatherings, more particularly between the older generations and, well, the Indomie Generation.
The older generation feels or believes the ‘Indomie Generation’s understanding of the Nigerian polity, history and economy is very limited and they missed out on the ‘glorious childhood’ where commercials of sodas such as Parley Soda, Goldspot, LIMCA, etc., held the black and white screens in Nigerian homes spellbound.
Beyond meals and television sets which were greatly limited at the time, education is another aspect the older generation uses in defining the Indomie generation. As opposed to what is common in schools now, the older generation never relished fancy snacks or candies other than locally produced sweeteners such as ‘Baba dudu’, ‘Balewa’, ‘Ekana Gowon (Gowon’s fingernail)’, Tanfirin (corn snack), Kokoro, ‘Condensed’, etc.
While the term ‘Indomie Generation’ might come off as condescending, generational wars are not new and did not start with Nigerians. Perhaps it is because something ‘trivial’ as a noodle brand is used to point out or represent the Generation Z in Nigeria, it still does not take away the fact that the Indomie Generation is not only new but also had more of the newest things of life as opposed to the older generations.