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British Envoy To Rwanda Turns To Banana Beer

2 Min Read

Omar Daair the British High Commissioner to Rwanda and Ambassadeur au Burundi has been spoted involved in process of making banana beer at an unidentified village.

Banana beer, or Urwagwa, is a core part of Rwandan Culture. Whether it’s a religious ceremony such as a wedding, a baptism or just a normal social gathering.

“I got involved in making some banana beer,” High Commissioner Omar said.

The practice of making banana beer the traditional way is still alive in many rural areas of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where it is an important part of the rural economy along with non-traditional methods of processing bananas into wine and gin.

In Rwanda, the share of beer bananas has decreased to 47%, from 60% 20 years ago, following efforts by the government to discourage farmers from growing them. Most of the brewers are farmers using their own bananas, to which they may add bunches bought from other farmers.

The bananas are harvested green and artificially ripened. One method is by putting them in a shallow pit in the ground and covering them with banana leaves and soil to generate enough heat to accelerate ripening.

Another is to arrange the fruits on a wooden rack placed over a cooking hearth. The fruits are covered to avoid desiccation during smoking, a process that typically takes 6 days and from which they emerge yellow.

The bananas are peeled and put in a brewing vessel, such as the traditional canoe-shaped one. Spear-grass, such as Imperata cylindrical, is used to knead the bananas until a clear juice is extracted.

The filtered juice is diluted with water and roasted red sorghum is added. Fermentation usually takes place in the brewing vessel, which is covered with banana leaves.

After fermentation, the beer is poured in jerrycans and ready for consumption.