Uganda is the Banana Republic of Africa – 50 plus varieties
Uganda goes Bananas and grows more Bananas than any other African Country
Uganda is the Banana Republic of Africa – more Bananas are grown and consumed here in the Pearl of Africa per capita than anywhere else in all of Africa. Uganda grows more Bananas, in a small country the size of the State of Oregon than any other nation in the world, but India.
Uganda has gone Bananas, especially in the Central Area of Uganda where families consume it almost daily in the form of Bananas.
What most Western Visitors to Uganda do not realize, that Bananas in Uganda are much more than a dessert or fruit treat, but the Plantain Bananas are a main source of food.
Beyond that Bananas are used to make juice, beer, wine, flour, cosmetics, and the potent Waragi Gin. Its leaves for thatching, even clothing, for decoration and for handicrafts that you can buy…You will enjoy finding out why Uganda is the Banana Republic of Africa.
Consumption wise, no one in the World beats Uganda. Ugandans eat 600 pounds of Bananas per capita in a year while Americans consume 27 Pounds of Bananas per capita, now no wonder Uganda grows more Bananas (mostly Plantain locally called Matooke Bananas) than any other country in Africa and is number two only to mighty India in the production of Bananas.
Uganda grows more Bananas in the world with the exception of India. Uganda is truly the Banana Republic of Africa.
Most Ugandans in the central area of Uganda do not store food inside of their homes, aside from salt, oil, sugar, tea, most Ugandans simply go the Garden and cut down some Matooke – they actually fell that plant with the fruit on it in order to take it down and in due season you will see a fresh green stalk growing up replacing the one that was cut down.
Uganda is the Banana Republic of Africa produces almost Nine million tons of bananas a year and when it comes to world production it is only vast India that exceeds the small country of Uganda in production.
Uganda is truly Africa’s Banana Republic that is not said in a disparaging manner, but because but this comparatively small country grows an abundance of them and consumes most of them in one way or another.
The average Ugandan eats from 750 grams to 1 kilo of Bananas per day most of the Matooke Variety which are cooking bananas(steamed-boiled mashed and served with meat, fish chicken peanut sauce, etc), they also consume quantities of sweet eating bananas and roasted ones over a charcoal fire – simply said “Uganda is the True Banana Republic.” If you come to Uganda and do not taste its various types Bananas or Banana dishes from cooked Matooke to Kabalagala Pancakes or a Gonja roasted Banana you have missed out on Authentic Uganda.
Travel most anywhere you will be amazed by the scenery and greenness of Uganda – no wonder it has been called the Evergreen State of East Africa. Drive through the countryside and you will notice that much of what is green in the countryside are fields and fields of Bananas which are awash with its large, soft green leaves. Bananas are a part of daily life for most Ugandans and that begins in the garden and continues to the kitchen and to the plate and you will find one kind or another maybe it be the finger sized or larger eating Bananas, the Gonja Roasting ones which are quite delicious and a snack anytime, and of course the mainstay of many Ugandan homes the green Matooke lastly there are the exotic Red variety that you will find here and there.
Not only are Bananas used for food, but in the making of Waragi Gin, Juice and wine are made from Bananas, the leaves are used in cooking so that the matooke Bananas can steam or leaves are used to cover the food and even wrap food in the leaves for cooking even the famous Luwombo Chicken Dish.
Uganda is the Banana Republic of Africa awaits you and you have not visited Uganda unless you have eaten Bananas in the Pearl of Africa-Enjoy Uganda-plus do not forget all the other products made from the fruit, fibers, leaves and stems…no matter where you go in Uganda you will find something made from Bananas. The amazing thing is this – Bananas did not originate in Uganda, they were brought from afar but have a found a home here.
How Bananas are used in Uganda:
In Uganda, the staple food of the day is Matoke Bananas. Rice, Potatoes are eaten but Matoke wins hands down. This is is food loved and preferred by Ugandans. Each monning huge trucks roll into the markets bringing in hundredes of stalks of Matoke Bananas. Ugandans wll buy it by the stalk, or enough to make a meal out of them. They are peeled, steamed, mashed and served with sauces such as G-Nut Sauce, Meat or Fish, Beans. Matake can be used with most anything.
A Ugandan has not had a good day unless he has eaten a large portion of Matoke. In the country every family grows their own Matoke (Matooke) Bananas but in the city you pay cash for them. Cheap, they are not, one reason is the popularity of the food.
Fo the Visitor on Safari, you have not visited Uganda until you have a plate of Matoke Bananas.
These are Varieties that are eaten as a dessert, like a candy bar as a pick me-up and the main types include Bogoya & Sukali Ndizi( Apple Bananas) – the latter are finger sized. They are often served at hotels with your breakfast. You will be able to buy them almost everywhere since vendors abound that sell them including carrying them on their heads in a basket.
We even have roadside vendors that sell them at bus stops, in towns near Fueling Stations, in markets plus a few other places that will surprise and delight you.
The taste of these Bananas most find as the best that they have ever eaten anywhere, either at home or in their travels. We most often have eating Bananas in Safari vehicles for our clients to enjoy a bit of the Taste of Uganda while traveling in between parks.
You have not visited Uganda unless you have eaten its Bananas.
Fonja Bananas are sold on the streets by vendors as a snack – They are firmer Bananas, yet sweet that are great roasting over charcoal where they acquire a unique flavor of their own.
Ugandans for the most part do not do so, but Gonja Bananas are great sliced as part of a stirfry Dish, you can even add sme churks of pineapple to the dish such as chicken and vegetable and find it delightful. at times Gonja might be served as a side dish. We think a roasted Gonja would be great when having an Ankole Beef Streak instead of potatoes, also a sde-sish to a whole tialapia. Great flavor combinations that we have tred for ourselves and found it a success.
Some Lodges, especially Luxury Lodges try innovative fusion dishes and at times the Gonja Banana comes out as a winner. In our opinion, the Gonja Banana has some great potential beyond its present, limited use.
Banana in Baked goods, the most popular being the Kabagala Pancakes that are a favorite breakfast treat beyond Bread or porridge. One thing is certain, Ugandans do not take advantage of Bananas when it comes to Baked Goods.
You do not find things as Banana Muffins, instead there are the popular Queen Cakes, you do not find Banana Pancakes. You do not find Banana Flavored Icecream, much less Bananas used in a Banana Split.
Kabalagala Pancakes are the most popular item where Bananas are used. One could add a bit more. Some upmarket hotels serve Banana Pacankes with slices or mashed sweet Bananas inside. A dough covered Gonja Banna in our opiion could be a great item. Some lodges have started to serve their recipe for Panana Pancakes with success.
One of the reasons one does not see diversity in the use of pancakes is because it costs more and artificial flavors are cheaper to use. Visiting Uganda, a few Kabalagala Pancakes would hit the spot for you.
This snack item is probably having more success being exported by some Ugandan manufacturers than it is selling on the local market. It is probably a lot healthier than Potato Chips and it can be made without using a lot of oil and instead of drying primarily Gonja Bananas that that seem to be best for this treat.
Kids seem to like it and they are great as an after school snack for them. Visitors to Uganda really like them, since they are an unusual Ugandan Treat that is not as readily available as it is in Supermarkets here.
If they could be made a bit thinner, they would be ideal. Hopefully no one like Lay’s Potato Chips will get into the act and mess up this delightful Ugandan Treat.
You can also find it online and in some stores in Europe. There seems to be one outlet now in the US. The Ugandan Banana Chips are often repackaged under a different trade name when sold abroad.
Ugandans like their drnk and for many, the drink is Banana based. Whether it is local Beer made from Bananas sipped with reeds out of a common pot, ot Tonto – Banana Wine does not matter. The favorite, however, remains Waragi, a term that comes from War Gin and is a distilled product that Ugandans like Triple Distilled Waragi can be easily purchased by Tourists under the Brandnames such as Uganda Waragi or Leading. (note commercial products do not always use traddtional Waragi made from Bananas).
There is no popular commercial Banana Beer in Uganda today, but Wine and Waragi are readily available. Banana Juice as a stand-alone is more something made at home and not sold in supermarkets.
The commercial Banana Wine Cottage industry is rearing its head and the quality of the products has greatly increased. Ugandan as of yet have stuck to the traditional Banana Wine that is locally made.
The one Banana Beverage that has gotten an International following is Uganda Waragari and it is sold in Europe and North America We suggest that you try it with a Krest Bitter Lemon Soda.
It is not only the Banana itself that is used but the leaves and fibers that are used in making souvenirs. Bags, bowls, baskest made from Banana Fiber. There are greeting cards made from dried banana leaves inclluding great Christmas Cards.
You will find that many cultural craft items are made from Banana leaves and fibers such as various depictions of Christmas. Christmas Tree Decorations and more.
Placemats, table mats, bags, purses all made from Banana related products. Uganda even has a Banana Leaf Plate manufacturer that makes plates that are a lot better for the environment than plastic plates.
The Banana, did not originate here, it was brought here, the wild, indigenous kind was poisonous. It is however Uganda that has perfected the Banana when it comes as to what you can do with it.
Uganda the Banana Republic of Africa is home to 40,000 Million plus people that simply like their Bananas more than any other nation in the World
Bananas are seen as the Manna from heaven and you may just agree as you eat a delicious Chicken Luwombo with Matooke Bananas. Some of the better lodges use Bananas in one form or another including in Stir-Fry Dishes and delicious desserts.
We know Uganda and know how to incorporate, culture and a Taste of Uganda into your Safari no matter what your dietary preferences are. Get a taste of the Banana Republic of Uganda while on safari with us in the Pearl of Africa
By the time you leave Uganda – you will understand why Uganda is the Banana Republic of Africa.