Marula beer empowers Limpopo women

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thohoyandou - With the start of the marula season, hundreds of unemployed Limpopo women have collected wild marula fruits and started making beer to sell to locals and people from as far as Gauteng.

The women, from Shakadza, Muswodi, Tshiungani, Tshipise-Zwigodini and other villages outside Mutale near Thohoyandou, expect to make a decent profit from the marula beer.

"We collected marula from the trees and started making the beer, which took three to four days to be consumed by drinkers. We learnt how to produce marula beer from our elders who used it for traditional rituals only," said Julia Mammbeda, one of the producers.

Mammbeda said that, in the past, women in the area never saw the business opportunity in producing the beer.

She said they only made marula beer for recreational purposes and gave it away for free.

"Today we sell the 20 litres of marula beer for as much as R100 and R10 for two litres and we are making good money. This is better than being beggars because I can now smile all the way to the bank," said Mammbeda.

Marula fruit ripens between January and March each year. Marula trees, which grow in abundance in the northern and northeast parts of Limpopo, have nutritional benefits and are used for different purposes.

Traditional doctors use its bark for medical remedies, while the tree and fruit are also used to produce hair products, marula beer, jam and soap, among others.

The provincial "Ku Luma Vukanyi" (Tasting of the First Fruit) ceremony will be celebrated at Ga-Shongoane village near Lephalale on Saturday.

"By rotating the event, the department hopes to bring this age-old ceremony closer to all communities around the province," said Department of Sports, Arts and Culture spokesperson Adele van der Linde.

Celebrated since 2004, the event marks the official start of the harvesting and brewing season in the province. It involves the offering of marula beer to the ancestors, which is done by pouring the beer on the ground at the shrine.

More than 200 traditional healers are expected to perform rituals to mark the occasion.