Cultural Beat with Doreen Umutesi
During customary marriages in the Rwandan setting, both the bride and groom take local brew. The relatives of the bride and groom are not an exception to this century-long tradition as well.
It is a way to affirm the relationship between the two families. Since it’s about the gesture at such ceremonies, it is safe to say that Rwandan culture promotes the consumption of alcohol, as no one seems to have a problem with the act.
There are various proverbs in Kinyarwanda that support alcohol consumption for instance, ‘Inzoga nizo zasabye nyoko,’ literally translated to, ‘alcohol was a key factor for your mother’s hand in marriage’. This saying is in reference to introduction ceremonies where beer or liquor is presented to the bride’s kin.
Other sayings that define one’s personality or character in Rwandan culture include; ‘Nywa utazaba imbwa!’ translated to, ‘drink so that you won’t turn out to be a failure in life’ or, ‘Infura niyo inywa’ translated to, ‘ a nobleman is one who drinks with fellow men’.
Most of these idioms addressed men since women were not encouraged to drink alcohol even though it was them who brewed the alcohol.
Women only tasted alcohol during the brewing process, but naturally there was no specific quantity put in place for tasting. One could only assume that if what they brewed tasted great, there was no reason as to why they didn’t sip some more.
However, in recent times, women openly consume alcohol.
Unlike the recent alcohol brands that are distilled with a foreign touch, in the ancient times, traditional alcohol was made out of fermented sorghum, millet and honey.
Alcohol with fermented honey (Inturire) was for the elite or the Royals. During great occasions, honey beer was served to renowned guests only. The rest consumes anything else made out of sorghum or millet.