Malewa: A Bamboo Way to the Mugishu’s heart

Malewa - a Uique Gishu Treat

To the non-Bagisu, the word is malewa. However, the authentic Mugisu begs to differ; the word is in fact malewa or pluralised into Kamalewa. Yes, that is the food that has the Bagisu, a tribe found on the gentle slopes of Eastern Uganda. A tribe with roots is dug into the scenic slopes of Mount Elgon, where from this food sprouts.

Malewa is simply a bamboo shoot! Though it can be eaten fresh too, what mostly hits the market is the dried one. When fresh, it can be stir-fried into a stew and will have a cooked cucumber-like taste. But since the fresh one is almost hard to find, what we see is the dried one.

The unspoken rule for preparing the dried Malewa is to cook in a groundnut source and serve preferably with matooke (green bananas) or sweet potatoes. The cooking process is nothing complex really, as all it requires is water salt, and groundnut paste. But dare we say, this dried bamboo shoot is a delicacy that is imprinted in the Mugisu’s heart.

Dealers in this delicacy must comb the wild slopes of Mount Elgon and bare the steep hills to comb out these shoots. It is becoming harder and harder to do this as the population grows to make it even more precious. Forget that it looks like banana fibers, Malewa is a treasure to behold!


  • Wash and cut into small pieces
  • Boil in water and salt till soft
  • Add groundnut paste and simmer


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