The process of brewing buganu, the alcoholic drink made from marula, starts with carefully selecting the best and freshest marula fruits that have fallen onto the ground. This done by women and children, with the the women providing expert guidance to their youthful assistants. The marula tree lets go of the readiest of the green bulbs, which are kept until they become creamy yellow. These are then place in water and the fermentation process starts until the brew is ready to be imbibed. Now, calculating the perfect balance between the sugar and sourness determines whether or not the beer makes the cut.
For education purposes, Lutsango LwakaNgwane representatives and leaders are always out and about before the occasion starts, issuing time lines of mini-events, among other things, to enable members of the public to know what to expect. For example, one of last year’s lessons was about dress code and respect. The married women were required to wear a goat’s skin (sidziya) beneath their kangas confirming their marital status.
Below is an account of last year’s Buganu Festival:
Friday started with Lutsango delivering their 25-litre drums, some branded with corporate stickers, while others were supplied by women cooperatives. Thousands of women show up and deliver their brew, which undergoes hygenic tests to ensure that the health of consumers is not compromised. Women from all over Eswatini came in their matching kangas (emahiya) and, having practiced weeks in advance, sing and dance in unison at the end of the day on Saturday. All three days start and end with prayers that dedicate and surrender this national gem to the Almighty for safety. This proves that Emaswati are as spiritual as they are cultural.
Day two marks the busiest day as before the regiment starts showing off their dance moves and newly- composed songs, a myriad of items are on the programme. Because this is an annual women’s conference, the Ministries of Agriculture and Health offer some education on certain issues that only affect women. Inspired by this, the women later deliberate and share business skills. Since these women have also engaged themselves in savings schemes and other empowerment initiatives, they receive feedback during this time of the year. Business booms as tourists and participants admire hand-made products, some of which are created from marula materials. There is evidence that some of the women entrepreneurs who display their wares here were inspired by previous similar events to get started. Some women have been able to re-invest into their businesses because of previous success. The highlight of Saturday’s event is the words of wisdom from His Majesty the King Mswati III.
Marula Quick Facts
- Marula fruit contains four times more Vitamin C than oranges.
- Marula edible seed oil is rich in proteins and minerals, and contains active anti-oxidants.
- Marula essential oil is an effective skin conditioner. Its cosmetic and anti-oxidant properties soften, soothe and re-hydrate the skin while fighting free radicals.
- Marula benefits are plenty; from its basic use as a food source, Marula has magical qualities as a healing ingredient, and is known for its virility and fertility properties, as well as the many uses of its bark, leaves, fruit, nuts and kernels.
- Marula fruit is not just used to brew beer in Eswatini, it has been further processed into beauty products as part of Her Majesty, the Indlovukazi’s job creation and poverty alleviation initiatives for rural women in the country.
- Recently, syrup for making non-alcoholic Marula juice has been developed.