How women make pombe beer, 1864

Women were – and continue to be – the great brewers of pombé beer in central Africa; here’s what Speke had to say about it in 1864.  (Great stuff, pombé beer!)

Drinking pombé is always popular and traditionally is an evening affair with men - and a few women. Source: Rice Univ.

Pombé-brewing, the chief occupation of the women, is as regular here as the revolution of day and night, and the drinking of it just as constant. It is prepared from bajéri and jowari (common millets):

the first step in the manufacture is malting in the same way as we do barley; then they range a double street of sticks, usually in the middle of the village, fill a number of pots with these grains mixed in water, which they place in continuous line down the street of sticks, and, setting fire to the whole at once, boil away until the mess is fit to put aside for refining:

this they then do, leaving the pots standing three days, when fermentation takes place and the liquor is fit to drink. It has the strength of labourers’ beer, and both sexes drink it alike. This fermented beverage resembles pig-wash, but is said to be so palatable and satisfying—for the dregs and all are drunk together—that many entirely subsist upon it.

It is a great help to the slave-masters, for without it they could get nobody to till their ground; and when the slaves are required to turn the earth, the master always sits in judgment with lordly dignity, generally under a tree, watching to see who becomes entitled to a drop.

Speke, John Henning – What led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile. 1864

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About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in Africa-Central, Colonialism, Cuisine, Food, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How women make pombe beer, 1864

  1. Pingback: Poisoned Homemade Beer Is Blamed For 69 Deaths In Mozambique

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