Uganda is the Banana Republic of Africa – 50 plus varieties.
Uganda goes wild 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 than any other nation in the World but India. Ugandans consume more Bananas than anyone else. No one else even comes close to the number of Bananas Ugandans consume.
Uganda has gone Bananas, especially in the Central Area of Uganda, where families consume various types daily for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and Dessert.
Most Western Visitors to Uganda do not realize that Bananas in Uganda are much more than a dessert or snack. Plantain Bananas are the primary food source preferred by most Ugandans in the Central area of the country.
Beyond that, Bananas are used to make juice, Beer, wine, flour, cosmetics, and the potent Waragi Gin.
When it comes to the Banana Plant, nothing is wasted. The leaves are used for making the roofs of homes. Banana fibers are used in clothing, decorations, and 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 six hundred pounds of Bananas per capita per year. In comparison, Americans consume twenty-seven 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.
Everywhere you look in Uganda. Wherever you turn, there you will come across the beloved Bananas of one kind or another. In many regions of Uganda, they are used in almost every meal prepared in various ways.
Uganda grows more Bananas in the World, except for India. Uganda is truly the Banana Republic of Africa. Few of the Bananas are exported to other countries. When it comes to Bananas, the focus is on home-consumption.
Most Ugandans go to the Garden and cut down some Matooke. They fell the whole plant with the fruit on it 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 that produces Nine million tons of bananas a year. When it comes to world production, it is only vast India that exceeds Uganda’s Banana output. One needs to put that into perspective. Uganda is a country that is about the same size as the state of Oregon. Just think about it, Uganda, a small country is the second-largest grower of Bananas in the world. It is no wonder that we believe that it is a “real Banana Republic.
Uganda is indeed Africa’s Banana Republic that is not said belittlingly, but because but this comparatively small country grows an abundance of them and consumes more Bananas than anyone else in the world.
Unbelievable as it may sound, the average Ugandan eats from 750 grams to one kilo of Bananas per day. They eat the Matooke Variety, 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 – 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 authentic Uganda.
Travel most anywhere you will be amazed by Uganda’s scenery and greenness – 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 country are fields and fields of bananas with their 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 a plate. You will find one kind or another, such as the finger-sized or larger eating Bananas. There are the Gonja Roasting ones, which are quite delicious and a snack anytime. Of course, the mainstay of many Ugandan homes the green Matooke. Lastly, there is 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., The leaves are used in cooking so that the Matooke Bananas can steam. Leaves are used to cover the food and even wrap food in the leaves for cooking, even the famous Luwombo Chicken Dish.
Uganda, the Banana Republic of Africa, awaits you. 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 fantastic thing is this – Bananas did not originate in Uganda. They were brought from afar but have found a perfect and appreciative home here.
How Bananas are used in Uganda:
Matoke (Matooke) – Uganda’s Daily Bread:
In Uganda, the staple food of the day is Matoke Bananas. Rice, Potatoes are eaten, but Matoke wins hands down. This is food loved and preferred by Ugandans. Each morning huge trucks roll into the markets bringing in hundreds of stalks of Matoke Bananas. Ugandans will buy it by the stem or enough to make a meal. They are peeled, steamed, mashed, and served with sauces such as G-Nut Sauce, Meat or Fish, Beans.
A Ugandan has not had a good day unless he has eaten a large portion of Matoke. Every family grows its Matoke (Matooke) Bananas in the country, but you pay cash for them in the city. 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.
Sweet Dessert – Eating Bananas:
These are Varieties that are eaten as a dessert, like a candy bar as a pick-me-up. 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 finds 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.
Gonja – Roasted Bananas:
Sonja Bananas are sold on the streets by vendors as a snack. They are firmer Bananas, yet sweet, great roasted over charcoal where they acquire a unique flavor of their own.
It is not done here, but Gonja Bananas are great sliced as part of a stir-fry dish. You can even add some chunks of pineapple to the dish, such as chicken and vegetables, 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 side-dish to a whole tilapia. Great flavor combinations that we have tried for ourselves and found 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 current, limited use.
Kabalagala Banana Pancakes and other Baked Goods:
Banana in Baked goods, the most popular being the Kabagala Pancakes, is a favorite breakfast treat beyond Bread or porridge. One thing is sure, Ugandans do not take advantage of Bananas when it comes to Baked Goods.
You do not find things like Banana Muffins. Instead, there are the famous Queen Cakes. You do not find Banana Pancakes. You do not find Banana Flavored Ice-cream, much fewer 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 opinion, could be a great item. Some lodges have started to serve their recipe for Banana 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.
Beverages made from Bananas -Juice-Beer-Waragi-Wine:
Ugandans like their drink, and for many, what is consumed is Banana based. Local Beer made from Bananas sipped with reeds out of a standard pot does not matter. The favorite, however, remains Waragi. The name comes from War Gin and is a distilled product that Tourists can easily purchase Ugandans like Triple Distilled Waragi Brands such as Uganda Waragi or Leading. (note commercial products do not always use Bananas).
There is no famous 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 dramatically increased. Ugandan, as of yet, has stuck to the traditional Banana Wine that is locally made.
The one Banana Beverage that has gotten an International following is Uganda Waragi. 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, baskets made from Banana Fiber. There are greeting cards made from dried Banana leaves, including great Christmas Cards.
You will find that many cultural craft items are made from Banana leaves and fibers, such as various Christmas depictions. Christmas Tree Decorations and more.
Placemats, table mats, bags, purses are all made from Banana related products. Uganda even has a Banana Leaf Plate manufacturer that makes plates a lot better for the environment than plastic ones.
The various eating Bananas were not indigenous to the country. Like mangoes, pineapple, and other fruits, they were brought through trade from Asia.
The wild, indigenous kind was poisonous. However, Uganda has perfected the Banana when it comes to what you can do with it.
Uganda – Africa’s unofficial Banana Republic where Bananas sustain a Nation:
Uganda, the Banana Republic of Africa, is home to 40,000 Million plus people like their Bananas more than any other nation in the World.
Bananas are seen as the Manna from heaven. You may 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 your dietary preferences. 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.