Uganda Banana Culture

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Africa » Uganda » Central Region » Masaka
August 1st 2010
Published: August 1st 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY


Farmer cycling his "hands" of banana's to the market where they will be sold and most likely, land up in Kampala

Anyone who’s travelled the dusty roads of Uganda will tell you that no matter how many times you drive them, the scenery is always breathtaking.

Villages and towns with brightly coloured roadside markets, beautiful snow capped mountain ranges and miles of rolling green hills covered by banana plantations awash with soft green leaves.

In Uganda, banana’s from their cultivation to the table are a part of everyone’s daily life and deeply embedded in the culture of the Ugandan nation. Six different types of bananas grown in Uganda. They include the popular Matoke, Small Yellow, Big Yellows, Tonto, (used to make beer and gin) Gonja (ideal for roasting and often found at the road side stalls) and the deliciously exotic Red banana.

Whilst the Matoke is the staple diet for most, Ugandan’s have derived a number of ingenious uses form the banana plant. They include; fibre for roofing, umbrellas, baskets, mats as well as bags to carry eggs safely. Leaves are also wound into a circular shape and placed on their heads in order to carry an array of things, from pots to water containers. Dried leaves are even used by kids to make soccer balls.

Banana leaves come in handy when steaming bananas and other food types. Banana hands are also wrapped in leaves as a form of protection when the bananas are being transported to the market.

In the rural areas, banana production supports a vast number of people, from the farmers who farm them, to the biker who cycles the ‘hands’ to the local market or collection point where a truck will load them for delivery to a larger market in Kampala where they are sold to urban folk.

A few banana customs:
* Waragi Gin is made from the Tonto banana and it is culturally accepted that local farmers share
a glass of Waragi when socializing. If you don’t share amongst friends, it is believed that bad
things can come your way.
* A woman can share a Waragi with her husband, but she may not share a drink with other men.
* A fine powder is made from the stems of the plant and is sniffed by elders as a means of
“cleansing the head”.

Banana fact file:
* Did you know that a bunch of banana’s is called a “hand” (branch full of bunches) of bananas
and a banana plant should produce four hands per year.
* A vast number, 6 “hands” and more, are often seen being transported on a bicycle. Only in Uganda!
* The Buganda Tribe use the sap from the bark for cooking or dried with salt andused as chicken feed.
* Don’t cut off the stem of the hand as this will causes the banana’s to ripen quickly.


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