What Is Tonto, Uganda’s Legendary Booze That Is Made With Bananas, And Why Is It Under Threat?

The Ugandan authorities have introduced a bill in its national assembly asking for regulations on the production of Tonto by homebrewers.

by Tashika Tyagi
What Is Tonto, Uganda’s Legendary Booze That Is Made With Bananas, And Why Is It Under Threat?

When we think about boozy drinks made with fruits, we think of grapes and wines! However, the lovely folks of Uganda have used the least expected fruit from your fruit basket to create their traditional drink Tonto – bananas! Tonto is a traditional drink made by fermenting bananas. It is quite a popular treat in Uganda and has now come under the spotlight. Read on to know why!

What It Tonto, The Legendary Boozy Banana Drink From Uganda

Image Courtesy: Facebook/The tribe

Often referred to as mwenge bigere or tontomera, Tonto is made by ripening green bananas in a pit over a few days. The bananas are then extracted for their juice which is further filtered and diluted. This liquid is then combined with roasted sorghum grains, followed by its fermentation over the next two to four days. Its alcohol content value ranges from six to eleven percent. So, probably less than the bottled beer that we are used to.

It has a fruity aroma (of course!) with small chunks of sorghum floating on the surface. It is so popular in Uganda that there are several folk songs around it and parties are almost incomplete without cranking open several bottles of this local drink.

Why Is It Under Threat & Has Left Local Brewers Worried?

Image Courtesy: Canva

Now that we have established the importance of Tonto in Ugandan culture, let’s talk about what the buzz is all about. This traditional drink has been in the spotlight because of the introduction of a bill in the national assembly of Uganda recently. This bill seeks to regulate the production and sale of this alcohol. It further suggests criminalising the activities of homebrewers of tonto. This also included other traditional brews made across this country.

What’s to be noted is that tonto is the main source of income for many families in Uganda, especially in central and western Uganda. That’s why the drink is believed to be under threat by the locals. According to the authorities, this homebrewing is unlawful and also raises risks of deadly contamination. Not to forget, officials are unable to collect revenues from tonto sales made at home.

Furthermore, widespread cheap beer has also resulted in people turning their heads away from this local brew. A lot of treats for this drink, indeed! The bill is still under consideration but has caused quite a stir amongst the homebrewers.

On a side note, would you be interested in trying out boozy concoctions made of bananas?

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva & website/Yahoo News

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