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Bututia is a fermented drink made from finger millet that used to be prepared by the Akirinyaga people in Central Kenya. This product was very popular and was consumed during special occasions like harvesting and during land preparation when the rains were believed to be near. The women would prepare bututia, put it in gourds and take it to the men working on the field.

The process of preparing bututia starts with winnowing of the millet to remove dirt and any foreign material. The millet is then ground using grinding stones after which the flour is mixed with water. The mixture is then left to ferment for 3 days, and the result of this process is locally called kimera. Kimera is then diluted in warm water and filtered to have a homogenous final product. The resulting filtrate is bututia, which is kept in a cool dry place to maintain its freshness.

During land preparation, bututia was used as a measure of the size of land that had to be prepared, before drinking it: a gourd full of bututia would be halfway buried a few meters in front of the starting point to keep it cold. Bututia was then drunk using funnels made from banana leaves (locally known as mbari) and the process repeated by burying another gourd. This acted as a motivator for people to continue working and maximize the time they had at their disposal. Land preparation was thus a communal affair where men used to move from one homestead to the other.

This product is at risk of disappearing due to increased preference for standardized products. The change in the societal values that promotes individualism has also affected the product negatively.

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Other info


Distilled and fermented beverages

Indigenous community:Akirinyaga (Gikuyu)