“Kabale porridge is sweet”
I grew up from KIGEZI region, located in south western Uganda bordering Rwanda, DRC and Burundi. My love for KIGEZI will never die. No wonder I am a mukiga 99% but most importantly am Ugandan.
Our famous drink is called “bushera”
Usually sipped from enkyeeka (a small gourd) or a half litre mug (usually called gamma), obushera has for long been the Bakiga’s favorite thirst quencher.
I implore readers to let us in on their local beverages. In High school when our English teacher gave us an assignment about writing on our local foods, the so called Kampala born looked down on us writing about cassava, sweet potato, yam and they could take none of it. Instead they wrote about pizzas, muchomo, Sandwiches etc. to the amusement of everyone. This was especially the girls and boys in showbiz.
Terraces that run round the steep hills in KIGEZI reveal a scenery that is irresistibly charming, with small but dependable fields of sorghum, millet and Irish potatoes. Gentle breezes always comfort the farmers as they wait patiently for the next harvest. The winding roads from one hill to the next make a trip to Kigezi a spectacular one. I urge you to spend a weekend in kabale, you will love it, it’s mwaaaa….
One cannot help but wonder why its inhabitants, the Bakiga are so keen on refilling their gourds with bushera (a drink made out of millet or sorghum flour). A new visitor in this area might leave with the impression that it is mandatory here for every shop keeper to stock the drink.
Bushera has proved so magical in the past that most rural Bakiga thought of it as medicine. This is indeed true to some extent – some information obtained from Kisiizi Hospital where my auntie is a nurse, reveals that the population of Kigezi has a low level of constipation complaints compared to the rest of Uganda thanks to regular sips of bushera.
The Bakiga will need no specific time, agenda, environment or weather to drink the stuff. Any time is Bushera time.
The ability to drink bushera at any time of the day makes the Bakiga’s working hours very flexible and easily stretched into an entire day. A sip of bushera while munching on some Irish potatoes prepared the night before (amahoro g’emondi) can keep one going for a while longer. Bakiga are arguably the hardest working tribe in Uganda courtesy of bushera.
THE MAKING OF BUSHERA
There are two ways of making obushera butooko. In one, millet flour is used and the in the other, sorghum flour is used but for both, water is boiled first. A mixture of flour and cold water that was boiled and cooled earlier is thoroughly mixed to form a thick slurry in a bowl. Boiling water is then added, stirring rapidly to produce a smooth enkoomba (porridge). Any solid/non-jelly pieces of millet/sorghum meal that form in the porridge are removed.
After the porridge cools, ekyimeera (yeast) is added and the bowl covered for a night. After about twelve hours, bushera can then be stirred and is ready to drink. This is one healthy drink that the cook prepares with a special attachment, counting on it to take him/her into the next day.
As you can all witness, There is no mention of artificial sweeteners, or sugar in the entire procedure.
However, the non-Bakiga who drink bushera are often quick to bet that sugar is one of the ingredients. To tell the truth, it is very difficult to believe that no sugar was added and for that reason most diabetic and high blood pressure patients tend to avoid this wonderful beverage.
BUSHERA EXPANDS ITS COVERAGE
Bushera has grown in popularity even among other tribes besides the Bakiga in Uganda, Martha, is a Canadian born in Bududa but she always has millet flour in her house for that purpose.
Baganda ladies have lately also joined the band wagon of bushera drinking. They highly link Bushera to having sexual prowess through unusually high level of lubrication during intercourse.
So ladies come on, join the league of bushera drinkers to make happy and fulfilling marriages and sexual life.
However unscrupulous traders who aim at profit maximisation have been found to use unboiled water, exposing unsuspecting customers to illnesses like typhoid. Therefore you may have to buy from trusted sellers or home preparation is paramount.
Bushera is still a vital part of my way of life even though I am in a foreign country, thousands of nautical miles away from KIGEZI –
It is so integral that Bakiga staying as far as London, Toronto, Paris, Brussels and other capitals of the world will always be excited to receive packages from the relatives in their motherland of some more millet/sorghum on a regular basis because they just can’t do without it.
On economy and health point of view “Rather than sip an expensive bottled drink, laced with chemicals I am not even sure about, I am easily satisfied with the all familiar glass of bushera.”
I wish you all the best in preparing a gamma or enkyeeka of bushera. Enjoy while it lasts. Visit us in kabale for 1st hand experience.
The writer is based in the middle East, never misses a glass of bushera daily and has organic looks.