How Popular Bole (Roasted Plantain) Almost Cost Me My Life

If you live in Nigeria, then you must of heard of the delicacy called Bole (Roasted plantain), this is a delicacy most Nigerians consume to satisfy their enormous appetites.But the question is that, are you eating something that is in safest condition for consuming. 

This is a recap shared by Charles Omole of his experience with one of the commonest delicacies.

On a recent trip to Lagos, I had an interesting experience which has given me a better understanding of why the mortality rate in our country is so high.

I wanted to have some roasted plantain popularly called Bole. So I sent my PA to buy three. When he returned, I decided it was not fair to eat all three by myself as we were about to embark on a journey to the other end of town.

So I gave one to my driver and one to my PA and I had the last one. About one hour into the journey, I started feeling a bit sick with serious stomach pains. But I ignored it, believing it would go away. I cut short a meeting two hour later due to the continuing pain. 

It was then I asked my driver and PA if they were feeling OK. To my surprise; they have both been in serious pain for over an hour but did not tell me because they knew how important the meeting I was attending was. 

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To cut the long story short, we quickly agreed that the only thing we all had in common was the Bole we ate.

Some of my Bole was still remaining; so I gave to a friend who had a laboratory to analyse. He came back that the roasted plantain was contaminated with Calcium Carbide. I was shocked.

He later told me that it is a common practice in Nigeria for people to use Carbide to ripen plantain very quickly. The plantain will ripen within 48hrs, even though it would have taken a week or more naturally.

In a 2010 paper “Eating artificially ripened fruits is harmful” Calcium carbide is found to be extremely hazardous to the human body as it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus. It is banned in many countries of the world, but it is freely used in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria and other poor countries. Thus we are at risk of short-term and long-term health effects simply by eating fruits that are induced to ripen.

Calcium carbide CaC2 is used to easily generate low levels of ethylene gas which can hasten the (outside at least) ripening of fruits like bananas, mangoes etc. But it is also damaging to health. Regular exposure will lead to a build up that can be fatal.

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Just before visiting the laboratory to give the sample to my friend, I instructed the driver to drive to a major pharmacy in Lagos nearby to us. They were given some medication that calmed them and countered the effect of the carbide. So we all survived it. But imagine those that eat this daily and build up the poison in their system. This is why people die “suddenly” in Nigeria.

So I insisted my driver visits the woman selling the Bole the following day to let her know of our experience. On getting to the woman and explaining, she simply drove him away not to spoil market for her. She was apparently aware of the possible effect of her use of carbide but was too profit focused to care. 


Definitely, you might be eating a certain food that is known to cause problems in some certain places, you might say that nothing has happened to you ever since and nothing will happen. But, remember, if those foods contain a poisonous substance, it is simply accumulating and building in your system. And then when  you are 40 and older, it may snuff the happiness out of your life at that moment. 

That is why we prepare for future, at this moment..

The best way to multiply happiness is to share it with others.. Please share this post to a friend. 

Stay Healthy, Stay Wise

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