Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Of Oranges, Banana Republics and Revolutions....

Onyango Oloo Calls for a Cooling of the Histrionic Rhetorics...


Oranges be used to make alcholic beverages?

I know that

Bananas have been long known as secret ingredients of some traditional mvinyo.

In Tanzania the brew is called style mbege(although you have to throw in some millet as well
Here is a detailed description of how to transform bananas into mbege:
Basic information:

Fermentation can be described as an enzyme-induced breakdown of complex organic compounds to simpler molecules. The simpler molecules produced are exemplified by few examples such as amino acids, Lactic acid, ethyl alcohol, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, methane and vinegar. These simple molecules constitute substances that have food or other fuels of commercial importance that could have significance in food security. Fermentation technology, the oldest form of biotechnology, is a discipline that can be improved, modified and optimised, for exploitation in synthesis of complex molecules such as antibiotics and single cell protein. Successful fermentation is based on the skills of Microbiologists, Biochemists, Geneticists, Chemical Engineers, Chemists and Control Engineers. (Stevan, et al 1987)fermentation at household level:process of fermentation occurs naturally at ambient temperatures, and has been exploited crudely in making countless varieties of alcoholic beverages. This same process however has been used very skillfully to achieve detoxification of otherwise inedible foods like cassava, fortification (increasing nutritional value) of some starchy foods, in enhancing food preservation and imparting flavour and aroma to some foods. (Kimario MV et al 2000 and Motarjemi Y & Nout MJ 1966) The preparation of alcoholic beverages is done at household level in many African communities, and the banana fruit has widespread use in the production of beverages, but the most notable is the alcoholic beverage brewed by the Chagga people in Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania, known as ‘mbege’.preparation of ‘mbege’: ripe bananaRipe Banana – the main substrate
  • Finger millet – (‘mbege’) catalyst, nutrient and flavour
  • ‘Msesewe’ – Extract from a bark of quinine tree (Rauvolfia Caffra) that adds bitter, acquired flavour and tends to slow fermentation
  • Water – for boiling the mixture
  • ingredient proportions are roughly one part of banana to three parts of water. The ‘mbege’ is added as one part to 12 parts of the brew while one part of the ‘msesewe’ is added to 40 parts of the brew.The local brew Bananas are harvested and placed over the fireplace or in the ceiling of traditional Chagga huts where the temperature is high enough to speed the ripening. When they are ripe, usually after 5-7 days, the fruits are peeled and boiled in water until the mixture turns reddish brown. The level of browning is based on the person’s preference with regard to the final product. After boiling, the mixture is allowed to cool before transferring to a plastic, earthen pot, or wooden container, where it is incubated for 4-5 days. The mash is mixed with more water and filtered through a bed of savannah grass and ferns on a bed of broad banana leaves mounted on a slopping trough. The filtrate is left for some hours prior to the inoculation with malted millet (‘mbege’) flour, hence its name ‘mbege’. millet drying The Finger millet is sorted, and then soaked in water overnight, drained, incubated at room temperature until germination occurs, followed by sun drying (picture: malted millet being dried on an animal skin could be contaminated and may be detrimental to the quality of the brew) then ground to make coarse flour by using a grinding stone. (This stage of millet malt preparation is completed before the ripening of bananas.) The flour is mixed with water and simmered just below boiling temperature to form a porridge that will be inoculated to the already prepared banana juice. ‘Msesewe’ from the bark of a matured tree, which is bitter in taste, it is washed, cut into small peaces, boiled and filtered, The filtrate is added to the banana juice 12 hours prior to drinking. Sometimes the bark is ground to flour and mixed with banana during boiling. From start to finish the preparation of ‘mbege’ can take 7-10 days
    benefits: consumption The preparation of ‘mbege’ is hard and labour intensive but the socio-economic benefits dictate the need: (Picture: Using a traditional drinking container made from calabash, a group of relatives and friends are sharing a drink of ‘mbege’)
  • Encourage social gatherings
  • Adopted in traditional courts as fines for the guilty party
  • Used in celebrations like weddings
  • Required in solemn occasions like funerals
  • Private business transactions are best conducted with ‘mbege’ on the table
  • Household income can be improved by selling ‘mbege’
  • An alcoholic drink with nutritive qualities from the unfiltered malt and yeast

  • J. Kimario was a final year Food Science student at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania. The article is based on excerpts of the final year project 2004.
    Here is what I swiped from a contemporary bar-tending site:

    Creamy Banana liqueur
    made either with artificial banana flavouring or produced by maceration and infusion of bananas.

    Banana Liqueur
    Liqueur produced by maceration and infusion of bananas.

    Banana Ramazotti
    A banana liqueur made by Ramazotti, an Italian producer. They also make amaretto (60 proof) and sambuca (80 proof).
    Banana Rum
    A banana flavoured rum. Banana
    Rich yellow schnapps with the flavour of fresh bananas

    Here in
    Canada there is a line of deceptively sweet drinks called

    which is of course a Vodka based concoction. As far as I know they do not have a "Hard Orangeade" version because I am pretty sure I would have dug up a picture

    of a hound sipping from one of those bottles...

    If you are wondering if Onyango Oloo is himself INTOXICATED on imported Tanzanian

    Konyagi or

    Uganda Waragi, well, buddy you are simply DRUNK yourself.

    So what am I trying to say, EXACTLY?

    Well, it appears to me as if politicians from both the "No" and "Yes" camps are slightly under the influence of their respective orange and banana-based slogans.

    Think about it?

    Did Kiraitu sound REMOTELY SOBER when he muttered cryptically that he had quote, " eaten a banana" on emerging from a top secret NAK strategy meeting?


    Kajwang' pass a

    Breathalayzer Test with flying colours after blabbing about an "Orange Revolution"?

    I wanted to be the very first person to puncture one particular

    orange balloon.

    That is the ballooon that claims that Kenya is on the verge of a "revolution" with an orangish hue.

    Folks whatever happens in Kenya on November 21, 2005, the one thing I know for SURE is not going to be happening is a "revolution."

    What is a revolution?

    Well, let us turn to this guy Lenin, who apparently knew one or two things about this particular subject:

    There was a time when he said that:

    "Whoever expects to see a 'pure' social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is..."

    But he is also remembered for saying this:
    the Marxist it is indisputable that a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, it is not every revolutionary situation that leads to revolution. What, generally speaking, are the symptoms of a revolutionary situation? We shall certainly not be mistaken if we indicate the following three major symptoms: (1) when it is impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their rule without any change; when there is a crisis, in one form or another, among the “upper classes”, a crisis in the policy of the ruling class, leading to a fissure through which the discontent and indignation of the oppressed classes burst forth. For a revolution to take place, it is usually insufficient for “the lower classes not to want” to live in the old way; it is also necessary that “the upper classes should be unable” to live in the old way; (2) when the suffering and want of the oppressed classes have grown more acute than usual; (3) when, as a consequence of the above causes, there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action.
    Without these objective changes, which are independent of the will, not only of individual groups and parties but even of individual classes, a revolution, as a general rule, is impossible. The totality of all these objective changes is called a revolutionary situation. we say honestly and objectively that we have met the above litmus test in Kenya? In particular, can we say today that "...there is a considerable increase in the activity of the masses, who uncomplainingly allow themselves to be robbed in “peace time”, but, in turbulent times, are drawn both by all the circumstances of the crisis and by the “upper classes” themselves into independent historical action..."?

    To my mind, one of the weaknesses on the Kenyan political front is precisely the reality that the wananchi are by and large, NOT, yet, fully organized to take "independent historical action".

    Obvious symptoms include:

    Kenyan Leftists do NOT have an independent political party; the Kenyan trade union movement is certainly NOT led by class conscious and political advanced workers; the alliances between the rural based land rights struggles and the urban based social movements are still extremely weak.

    On the other hand, there is a NATIONAL consensus on the need for a democratic constitution. At the moment the forces that are most clearly articulating this national consensus happen to be the organized fractions of the petit-bourgeoisie, including a smattering of the comprador bourgeoisie.

    It is possible for this national consensus to bring about a fundamental democratic breakthrough that could set the stage for far reaching democratic reforms.

    However, it will be simply over-reaching if we insisted that we are on the doorstep of a catacyclismic revolutionary upheaval in Kenya within the next two months.

    Let us remember what all these "oranges" and "bananas" are about:

    They are SYMBOLS to be used to identify the two options we have on the referendum ballot come November 21, 2005. The "banana" stands for those who will choose to endorse the mutilated draft that has torn up the still imperfect Bomas Draft. The "orange" stands for those who will be opposing the above mentioned draft.

    Whatever the outcome, on November 22, 2005, Kenyans will NOT have a democratic constitution under any circumstances. We will either have the new Imperial Presidency constitution that the Kibaki forces want to ram down the throats of the Kenyan people, or we will be stuck with the old Kenyatta-Moi-KANU undemocratic constitution that Kenyans have been agitating against for the last fifteen years or so.

    The referendum offers Kenyans an opportunity of moving forward with the quest for a new, just democratic constitutional dispensation. Its result will not actually accord us this dispensation. It is important for Kenyans to be clear on this.

    That is why it is important for us to put away the mbege or any orange flavoured vodka drinks and instead reflect soberly on the political tasks ahead.

    As someone who is firmly in NO camp, I think that the referendum should be an opportunity for us to:
  • Demonstrate the unpopularity of the Kibaki led NAK forces by defeating the Wako Draft;
  • A chance to marshall a new national democratic alliance that will push forward to complete the task of entrenching a new democratic constitution in Kenya;
  • A period of popular organizing and mobilization for the patriotic, democratic, socialist and othe anti-imperialist forces ahead of the 2007 elections;

  • A turning point in our national consciousness as we shun narrow tribal identities, parochial religious bigotry and self-seeking opportunistic mainstream politicking as we embrace a national, tolerant, diverse, patriotic and focused political vision in Kenya.

    Beyond those objectives, I think that any talk of "revolution" is strictly speaking reckless adventurism because we do know Kenya is NOT YET ripe for any kind of revolution.

    And speaking of the COLOUR of revolutions, I would be especially wary of importing wily nily into the Kenyan context, labels manufactured elsewhere. If anything, the appellation of "Orange Revolution" is one we should be wincing away from.

    How many of the NO chieftains really know what the so called "Orange Revolution" was all about?

    Those of us who followed that Ukrainian upheaval from start to finish get goosebumps every time we hear the NO forces yell about the upcoming "Orange Revolution" in Kenya.


    Well, read for yourself what the Orange Revolution was all about before making up your mind whether a figure like Viktor Yushchenko is what we want to emulate and carbon copy in Kenya. Pay particular attention to this AP story about how the Bush Administration bankrolled the Yushchenko campaign; glean through this rather unflattering profile of the so called hero of that alleged "Orange Revolution"; meander around in this Dave Lindorff piece that muses about the role of the CIA in the the Ukrainian elections and do not skip this skewering from a radical Montreal author who alleges that Yushchenko is actually the IMF's man in the Ukraine.

    So am I gobbling on a banana handed to me by my former lawyer Kiraitu Murungi?

    Not at all. Not at all.

    I am simply calling on the NO forces to concentrate on the task of defeating the passage of the atrocious Wako Draft as a step forward in fighting for a new democratic constitution in Kenya.

    The way I see it is as follows:
    • We mobilize the broadest sections of the Kenyan people to block the Wako Draft;
    • Following our victory we push forward with the demand for a Constituent Assembly which will be based on the original Bomas Delegates plus anyone left out of Bomas for whatever reason;
    • We push the parliamentary forces to push for a vote of no confidence in the Mwai Kibaki regime;
    • We agitate for the break up of the National Rainbow Coalition government;
    • We force fresh elections- ahead of 2007
    • The incoming INTERIM government should by then have a mandate from the Constituent Assembly to promulgate a new national democratic constitution, that will NOT be the Bomas Draft, but a refining of the same infused with all these democratic struggles and input especially from forces like the NCEC;
    • The regularly scheduled 2007 elections will then be held, the first to be conducted under our new national constitution;

    • We take it from there....

      By the way, Kenya will still be a Banana Republic on November 22, 2005.

      Onyango Oloo

    1 comment:

    Kenya Democracy Project said...

    Nyakwar Otiya:

    Thanks for your comment.

    Onyango Oloo