Ajon

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Ajon is a millet beer that comes in both liquid and solid forms. It is obtained from fermented dried emiroiti finger millet (Eleusine coracana). The emiroiti variety is characterized by dark brown seeds that reach maturity after four months, and resistance to drought. Ajon is an important element of Teso culture and represents a link between people. It is present in many ceremonies (e.g. weddings, births, graduations) and Teso traditions. For example, after a woman has given birth, she’s not allowed to go out for three days. After this period, there is a celebration during which some ajon is put in the mouth of the newborn. If a couple has twins, their families should share a calabash of ajon, to ensure the health of the millet crop. Today religious people often criticize ajon, but in the old days it was highly appreciated by the communities in eastern and northern Uganda as a product with great social value. During celebrations and feasts, Teso people serve ajon to visitors and neighbors that they wanted to impress. A local elder mentioned that, "ajon created excitement and happiness, inspiring people to dance and exercise. No wonder old people nowadays are crying of muscle pain, since they are no longer taking ajon to help them perform exercises!"

To obtain both liquid and solid ajon, finger millet seeds are dried and milled into flour. The flour is mixed with water and put in a pit to ferment. The fermentation process takes about a week. (The amylase enzymes in the finger millet readily convert starch to sugar. Only barley surpasses finger millet in terms of its saccharifying power.) Once the fermentation is done, the flour is removed from the pit, roasted in a large saucepan, and then sun dried. Once dry, the roasted fermented flour is mixed with ground yeast and covered for four days. After four days the mixture is diluted with hot water to obtain liquid ajon. Dry ajon lasts for months and is easy to carry, characteristics that made it an important food source throughout the year in the past.

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Territory

StateUganda
Region

Kumi

Soroti

Other info

Categories

Distilled and fermented beverages

Indigenous community:Teso