What you need to know:
- Calls for lifting of the ban dominated the inaugural festival on Akamba culture in Makueni County on Friday.
- Kaluvu was the showstopper as dozens of the showgoers lined up to sample the brew served at one of the stalls using decorated calabashes.
An outlawed Kamba traditional brew, kaluvu, could soon return to compete with conventional alcoholic drinks if a heightened push for the lifting of the ban gains favour from the government.
Calls for lifting of the ban dominated the inaugural festival on Akamba culture in Makueni County on Friday.
The event was organised by the county government and Hivos -- an NGO and international development agency -- ahead of the World Diabetes Day set to be celebrated over the weekend.
The highlight of the festival at the Makueni Greenpark in Wote town was the display of traditional Kamba foods such as muthokoi (a mixture of dry maize with husks removed and beans), sour milk, porridge made from millet flour, and ugali made from cassava flour.
There was also a music extravaganza that saw Kasiva Mutua, an internationally acclaimed percussionist, perform alongside troupes of traditional dancers as well as popular local benga artistes Alphonse Kioko of Kithungo Raha Band and Danny Muthama of Kinyambu Boy' Band.
Kaluvu was the showstopper as dozens of the showgoers lined up to sample the brew served at one of the stalls using decorated calabashes.
The drink is brewed using water and honey. Some brewers substitute the honey with sugarcane. A few slices of specially dried fruit of the African sausage tree are added in the mixture to aid in the fermentation.
Calls for regulation
Outlawed by authorities and pressured by other brews, the consumption of kaluvu is relegated to dingy dens in the villages where it is sold discreetly. Yet, it is a must-have during dowry rituals in Kamba wedding ceremonies.
“The government should legalise kaluvu. This is a healthy drink whose manufacturing does not involve chemicals. Instead of outlawing the brew, authorities should regulate the business to ensure that kaluvu is brewed and sold in a proper environment,” said Mr Julius Mutuku, an elder and a kaluvu lover.
The ceremony drew patrons from across the region and beyond. It was graced by Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana, his deputy Adelina Mwau and a host of nutritionists who campaigned for the consumption of indigenous foods to stem lifestyle diseases.
The governor echoed the calls to lift the ban on kaluvu, noting that it is a safe drink when consumed responsibly. He pledged to initiate the process of lifting the ban against the consumption of the brew, arguing that legalising it would stem consumption of harmful second-generation brews which are popular with the youth and the economically challenged.
Prof Kibwana supported nutritionists who spoke at the event and urged Kenyans to embrace consumption of indigenous foods, including indigenous vegetables, whose production does not involve harmful chemicals. Ms Mwau said legalising kaluvu would mean providing a ready market for hundreds of sugarcane farmers who grow the crop in the region.
Inspired by the success of Ms Mutua, who plays drums in big concerts all over the world, the governor called on the youth to be custodians of culture. He challenged them to aspire to make a living by promoting progressive culture through art, music and dance.