You cannot copy content of this page

Omwenge Omuganda (Local Brew), how it’s made and the role it plays in culture

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Drinking of locally made brew known as ‘omwenge omuganda’ was like taking wine today. People used to enjoy the brew differently and of course on different occasions. Some took it for fun, others for cultural reasons and sometimes for health tormented health healing reasons.

Omwenge omuganda as locally translated, has been in making since the early years of bantu settlement. In Buganda where the King translated to as Kabaka, used to order his servants to go and brew the Omwenge Omuganda in case he had visitor yet to come, or preparing for a party to come
This brew is made from a given type of banana species locally known as amabidde. These bananas are grown specifically for brewing. And eaten where famine stormed villages.

Amabidde (Bananas) are grown and not mixed with other types of bananas. They are given different area/ partiion within the garden. This helps them not to mingle with the food type of Banana.

It takes 6-7 months for good Banana stem to bear the fruitful Mabidde. Here they are looked after and harvested. After harvesting, the bunches are cut away from the stock and put once under sunshine for them to dry up the sap.

According to Mr. Ephraim, local brewing experts used to know the good type of Mabidde and what quality and quantity they would have after brewing. “…sometimes we collected banana stocks from different village-mates in order to brew enough. It is hard for one garden to bear around 5 stock of bananas at ago.” Ephraim added
Long ago the Amabidde were made ripe by hanging them in kitchens. It is believed that the heat in kitchens made them ripe. Nowadays the bananas are covered with polythen bags in order to ripe well. Others preferred to dig a ditch in which the “mabidde” would be thrown in and kept to ripe for days.

A big ditch locally called ‘olutyatya’ was then dug and within, another small dish called akattiro is still dug. After this is done, the Amabidde are squeezed well and placed in the big ditch. You may be asking yourself what is the use of the small ditch within the big one. Yes, the small ditch is prepared for the big job. The akattiro was prepared in a special way in that it was meant to collect the brew ‘embalule’. The Embalule is always concentrated colorless liquid that is collected after 3-4 days.

Sometimes the brew is not colorless, it may be a brownish liquid collected. This is known as nakavundira. “those who brew nakavundira are always amateurs in brewing. Therefore, one is regarded as an expert only when the embalule is collected.” Said Mrs Nakintu Annet.The longer the brew is kept, the more sweeter it becomes she added Alcohol is used to serve different purposes.

1. For Fun. In Buganda, ‘Omwenge Omuganda’ loosely translated as local brew is taken to be a fun moment drink. Some take it to pass time. To the Kingdom, the drink is always served at cultural parties. “A party was not surely regarded to be until you provide omwenge omuganda to those who have managed to attend.” Says Mr. Emphraim.

2. The Tradition Of Installing Heir, Different people from different clans interpret Okwabya Olumbe differently. From time immemorial, people have feared death very much. In the Kiganda culture, the death of any member of the family signified that something wrong had befallen the deceased’s household. In other words, it meant that death (Olumbe) had invaded that family and everything possible must be done to chase death from that family.

“There was an element of using force against an unseen but clearly imagined enemy known to be death ‘Olumbe’.” Narrated Mrs Annet
Okwabya Olumbe concludes the period of mourning and the deceased is replaced by a heir. Okwabya Olumbe means chasing death from home and dispersing it from the house member whose member has died.

As the survivors assemble in the house, one of the sons to the deceased’s daughters culturally referred to as Omukeeze (early comer) shows up and knocks at the closed door. The door is opened and a calabash full of Omwenge Omuganda – local brew is handed to him. He drinks the booze and passes it onto the rest of the mourners.

The drinking of booze which symbolizes the defeat of death and finally pushing it out of the house cause excitement and wild cheers from the children and widow(s) who finally emerge from the house led by the heir to be.

And also taking the local brew to the Woman’s home during introduction is a norm that is not worth neglecting. Without it, a man may fail to get a wife.

Similarly to any alcohol, omwenge omuganda has same effects to human life.
One is bound to suffer from ulcers, brain loss, and severe body weakness as a result of taking excessive local brew.

“Long ago people lost their contracts of working on shambas. Imagined you are meant to be at the shamba by 6am. But you still home sleeping because of hangover .” Mr. Epraim
Said this also affects ones being as people loose office jobs similarly to the accent because of alcohol. However cheap it may be we should learn how to use it. Mr. Ephraim added

Below are some of the photos

Hope we have had a take to the back. Keep waiting for more only here at THE UGANDAN