THE UNTOLD UNIQUENESS OF YORÙBÁ’S INDIGENOUS ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (OTÍ)
WRITTEN BY JOHNSON ADE OKUNADE
As a developing country, Nigeria is at the crossroads of indigenous and foreign cultures.
A culture that has been in existence for centuries is being replaced with a culture we didn’t know until about a century ago.
When we were colonized, British called Ogogoro illicit drink so they can sell and promote their own gin.
We were also so eager to throw away our naturally-made and highly medicinal Alcoholic Beverages (Oti)
- British have Gin
- Scots are known for Scotch Vodka
- The Caribbeans of West Indies part of North Americans are proud of Rum
- Scotland, Ireland, America still have Whiskey
Generically, the Yoruba refer to alcoholic beverages as “Oti” long before we were colonized.
Palm Wine is of two varieties; emu made from the oil palm, and Oguro, from the raffia palm. Palm Wine may be distilled producing a drink called Ogogoro.
Guinea corn is malted and fermented to produce oti baba or oti ‘ka, with baba or oka being local names for the corn.
We also have Agadangidi, a fermented beverage made from mashed ripe plantain, fresh red chilli peppers and water.
Those four types of Alcoholic beverages (Oti) served as a major component of of local herbal medicines and an integral part of social life. Up till date, it remains an element of indigenous worship and sacrifice.
Needless to say that our indigenous Alcoholic beverages (Oti) is an untapped source of income for both male and female in the society.
Women are the only producers of guinea corn beer, and they also sell their produce in small shops near their homes or brewing sites. Although men are responsible for tapping the palm wine, women provide the commercial outlets.
Also, Indigenous Yorùbá herbal medicine comes in five forms:
- ÀGÚŃMU: Powders of ground roots and leaves.
- ÀGBO: A liquid concoction where the ingredients are either boiled or soaked.
- Cooked in the form of stew
- Made into ointment, or
- In powder form, rubbed into incisions
Powdered herbs are frequently mixed with fresh palm wine to create a medicinal portion. These liquids medicines often use Ogogoro as a base for soaking roots and barks.
With the use of herbs and some of Yorùbá indigenous alcoholic beverages (Otí), a number of indigenous healers specialize in making such medicines for what they term women’s diseases.
These medicines focus on menstrual problems, worms that are believed to prevent pregnancy, swollen breast, pelvic inflammation, displaced uterus, and sexually-transmitted infections.
Asides the medicinal applications as mentioned above, lots of revenue could be generated from these of Yorùbá indigenous alcoholic beverages (Otí) provided we improve on them and package it to meet modern standards.
In conclusion, let me leave you with this shocking fact I recently discovered from Statista;
- Revenue in the Gin segment amounts to US$12,938m in 2020. Not only that, the market is expected to grow annually by 8.7% (CAGR 2020-2023).
- Revenue in the Rum segment amounts to US$14,989m in 2020. Yet still, the market is expected to grow annually by 8.1% (CAGR 2020-2023).
- Revenue in the Vodka segment amounts to US$42,057m in 2020. Also, the market is expected to grow annually by 8.0% (CAGR 2020-2023).
- Revenue in the Whisky segment amounts to US$80,586m in 2020. Albeit, the market is expected to grow annually by 7.6% (CAGR 2020-2023).
The statistics above shows how much each of the above mentioned foreign alcoholic drinks generate in just one year, so you can imagine how much it worths.
I’m not saying we should promote drunkenness, but we should stop closing our eyes to the fact that appreciating foreign products means putting more money in their coffers. It’s time we cherish what we have!
While Russia is the leading country and region in terms of alcohol consumption per capita, Nigeria remains the giant of Africa even in alcohol consumption.
Our indigenous alcoholic beverages has become roadside drink; tagged illicit. We could have upgraded it to compete among well known alcoholic drinks in the world.
- The healing powers of herbs with special Reference to Obstetrics and Gynecology by Lambo J.J
- Health Implications of Alcohol Production and Trade by Walsh B
- The Origin Of Herbal Cure and Its Spread by Ogunyemi A.O
- Alcohol consumption pattern among women in a rural Yoruba community in Nigeria by Mamman, Brieger and Oshiname
Thanks so much for your time.
Please drop your opinion in the comment session below.
I’m Johnson Adé OKÙNADÉ, an enthusiast of Indigenous Culture
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