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article imageProfile: Mama Alhaja Uthman of Burnaby's Lagos Corner Special

By Gibril Koroma     Oct 14, 2010 in Food
Burnaby - To many Nigerians and other Africans living in the BC suburban cities of Burnaby and New Westminster, she is simply known as Mama (Mother).
But her real name is Alhaja Uthman and she is the proud owner of the very popular Lagos Corner restaurant in Burnaby, BC. Lagos is the name of the former capital of the West African country of Nigeria. The capital is now Abuja but Lagos still remains the largest city and commercial capital of the country.
Alhaja (Haja for short) is from Lagos and she has brought a taste of her home city to Burnaby by creating the Lagos Corner restaurant which serves Nigerian and other African dishes. The place is always busy with Nigerian music filling the air, not to talk of the aromatic vapours coming from the kitchen.
I recently sat down for a chat with Haja and she said something that nearly blew me out of my chair. She said:
"Do you know I was a professional photographer in Nigeria? Yes, I was in fact a photo-journalist," she said with a wide smile. I was dumb-struck.
"Yes, I also studied photography at Red River College in Manitoba," she added. My eyes opened wider.
Like many Canadians these days, Haja had to change careers when she immigrated to Canada with her kids who are now adults. One of them, a young lady, assists her at the restaurant.
The name "Mama" came about because she is like a mother to many single Africans yearning for African food with no time or expertise to prepare it themselves. They usually come with big empty containers which Haja and her staff would fill with delicious African food to last a week or two. Visitors to Canada's Lower Mainland from Africa usually head straight to Lagos Corner for lunch or dinner.
Lagos Corner restaurant  Burnaby  BC
Lagos Corner restaurant, Burnaby, BC
Haja Uthman
I asked Haja why she abandoned photo-journalism for the restaurant industry.
"Journalism in Nigeria was too hectic and so when I came to Canada with my children I decided to do something else, something in which the children can also help. I also noticed that there was a need for the service I provide. There are not many places here that Nigerians and other Africans can go to have good Nigerian or African food," she explained.
She also offers catering services for weddings, birthday celebrations, christenings, festvals and other social functions.
The Lagos Corner menu usually contains goodies like pounded yam and egusi soup,Jollof Rice, (the most popular), plantain and fish, fried rice with meat or fish, rice, beans and meat and so on. A long list of delicious African food, spicy and aromatic.
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