How unschooled African women have championed chemistry and distillation.

Kachasu also known as Katata (or Tears of a Lion by the veteran dinkers) is an illegal traditional distilled beverage from Barotse, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi consumed mainly in rural parts and poor urban suburbs.
Despite this fact, the process involved in its production involves complex scientific understanding of chemistry and distillation.

Kachasu is normally brewed from maize but finger millet and various fruits like banana peels (banana wine) can be used. The process involves adding the carbohydrate source such as maize husks to warm water in a pot which has a hole drilled on the side.

Once heated up for a few minutes, it is taken off the fire, cooled down and sugar and yeast are added. The pot is completely sealed with clay and allowed to ferment for 4-7 days.

Following this, a narrow pipe encased with cool water is connected to the hole in the pot. The pot is placed on a fire and once boiling, the narrow pipe condenses or cools any hot vapours escaping from the pot into a liquid which is collected in small containers. The liquid is kachasu and its strength can vary from 20% to even 70% alcohol according to a study done at the University of Zambia.

However, kachasu distillation equipment may reveal a shabby unhygienic set up but the principles and the product are the same as that brewed from the shiny copper vats of the industrial breweries. Kachasu producers, as unschooled as they maybe, they have mastered a very complex scientific process though their understanding of the processes involved might be questionable, BUT IS THIS NOT SCIENCE ENGAGEMENT?



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