Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What is Waragi Ugandan Homemade Gin?

Waragi, also known as Kasese or Lira Lira is a popular craft alcoholic beverage distilled in Uganda.


Distilled liquor goes by many names, Waragi is a Ugandan homemade distilled alcoholic beverage made from the juice of mashed bananas, grain, cassava or sugarcane fermented 2 days, the brew from start to finish takes around 3 weeks to complete.

Waragi, also known as Kasese or Lira Lira is a popular homemade gin distilled in Uganda.
Waragi Ugandan Homemade Gin
Income from making Waragi is a way to make a way out of no way for female entrepreneurs, it is how many survive to support their families.

Many Ugandan families are historically independent-minded making a living off Waragi because the homemade liquor is produced and sold quickly not requiring aging. Unaged Waragi has a harsh taste and rough character.

Enguli is the popular 1960’s home brew which inspired the Enguli act of 1966.  The Enguli act regulates the manufacturing, licensing and sale of the popular homespun brews called enguli. The act is meant to establish and implement a licensing system for making the local brews however; some local Ugandan brewers currently not follow the established system.

Heating Waragi, also known as Kasese or Lira Lira  homemade distilled gin.
Heating Waragi, also known as Kasese or Lira Lira
homemade distilled gin.
The Enguli Act also defines duties of license holders and requires a license to be obtained for the making of a kind of spirit called jaggery or sap from palm trees or juice from sugarcane used as a sugar base for distilled brews. 

The Ugandan government in 1965 wrote the language for the Enguli act of 1966 stating you must have a license to make Waragi and pay taxes but this does not stop Waragi brewers from making the brew without a license. This is probably due to Ugandans traditional cultural concept of community policing called Nyumba Kumi which works on the premise that each community must be able to be self-reliant. In 2009 commercially made plastic packets of waragi were named in the death of 20 people in Uganda, were found to contain more methanol than the suggested ratio.

Nigeria with 3.2 gallons of alcoholic beverages consumed per person per year is the “drinkingest” country in Africa.
Nigeria with 3.2 gallons of alcoholic beverages
consumed per person per year is
the “drinkingest” country in Africa. 
Drinking alcohol is a part of Uganda's social culture just as any other country in the world, legal drinking is age 18 throughout the country. Average alcohol consumption is around 3 gallons per person per year; the US average is about 2.5 gallons per person per year. Uganda is not the most “drinkingest” country in Africa, that title belongs to Nigeria with 3.2 gallons of alcoholic beverages consumed per person per year. The top ten “drinkingest” countries in Africa according to a World Health Organization 2011 report are:

10. Tanzania
9.   Botswana
8.   Gabon
7.   South Africa
6.   Burundi
5.   Namibia
4.   Sierra Leone
3.   Rwanda
2.   Uganda
1.   Nigeria

Did you know?

Enguli is also a town in Southeast Kenya


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