Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Ibwatu African Energy Drink Recipe

Fermented beverages are a significant part of people’s diets in Africa. Ibwatu is a fermented drink made from grain and is a natural energy drink.

Ibwatu African Energy Drink

Ibwatu African Energy Drink

Fermented beverage Ibwatu is consumed in the southern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) region and Zambia. Popular similar drinks are Zimbabwe’s chikubu and togwa and South Africa's mahewu drink. 

Locals distinguish Ibwatu plants through their leaves, stems, and root. The roots of the plant are a rich as a source of amylolytic enzymes. Rhynchosia heterophylla or Ibwatu roots is a perennial shrub native to Tanzania, Zaire, and Zambia. The plant also grows in the Sudano-Zambezian Region.

The ingredients of traditional production Ibwatu are sugar, water, starch, and roots of the Ibwatu plant. Maize or corn is the most widely used source of starch however, other plants are used depending on the region such as sorghum, finger millet, cassava, sweet potato, and Irish potato. 

The roots of the plant contribute to the color and the characteristic flavor of the drink. The steps are taken to make the Ibwatu African Energy Drink recipe is first pound roots, and then boil mash, next strain mixture and lastly rest or 24 hours.

Ibwatu African Energy Drink


½ cup pounded Ibwatu roots (substitute one package of yeast but color and taste will not be the same)

1 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup sugar

5 cups filtered water


In a large pot boil water, add cornmeal simmer about 10 minutes remove from heat and cool mixture slightly. Add the pounded Ibwatu roots to warm mixture, stir, and strain. Let stand for one day, serve cold. 

More information on fermented drinks and their popularity.

Fermented drinks are popular for several reasons, including:

Health Benefits.
Fermented drinks contain live microorganisms, known as probiotics, which can promote gut health and improve digestion. Additionally, some fermented drinks, such as Ibwatu, contain antioxidants and other beneficial compounds that may improve overall health. 

Unique Flavor Profiles.
Fermented drinks often have a unique and complex flavor profile, which can be attributed to the fermentation process. Fermentation can enhance the flavors of the ingredients and produce new and interesting taste sensations. 

Natural Production.
Fermented drinks are often made using natural ingredients and traditional methods, which can be appealing to people who are interested in natural and organic products. 

Cultural Significance.
Many fermented drinks have a long history and cultural significance in the regions where they originated. For example, Ibwatu is believed to have originated in Africa over 4,000 years ago, and has since become popular around the world. 

Alcohol Content.
Some fermented drinks, such as beer and wine, contain alcohol, which can be enjoyed for its relaxing and mood-enhancing effects.

Ibwatu fermented drinks are popular for their unique flavor profiles, health benefits, natural production methods, cultural significance, and sometimes, alcohol content.

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