This Soda Ash is used in cooking some food delicacy which include:

LUHYA

LUO

SWAHILI

Likhubi

Boo

Kunde

Omurere

Apodh

Murenda

Emiro

Mitoo

Mitoo

Liro

Budho

Malenge

Eshitiani

Ogira

Borohoa

Isindu

Aluru

kware

Inyieni

Rech

Samaki

Ingokho

Gweno

Kuku

 

 

 

Note:
Clay pot (nyungu) was  the most recommended for cooking  the above although sufurias for the present generation are applicable.
The traditionally prepared soda ash (Omunyu, Omusherekha, Thudho) is made from, dried banana peelings...(photo of the dried peelings).

This can not be used commercially since the production is on a small scale hence used domestically.
The soda ash can also be made from beans leaves that have been dried especially during harvesting season of the year.....Photo...   This can yield  large quantity that can be used commercially.
This dried banana peelings and beans leaves are burnt and the ash is gathered and stored in a large pot or traditional basket that has been fine painted using cow dung to prevent wastage.

(2)  Other source of soda ash is grass that grows along river swamp i.e. along river Yala swamp.  The grass can be harvested dried and burnt then the collected ash can be used both commercially or domestically.

How Omunyu (Omusherekha, Thudho, magadi is extracted in order to get the liquid mixture that is used for mixing with food to make it become soft and cook faster.

Step 1:
You need to have a plastic container of at least 500mls and make several holes at the bottom of the container which is used as a sieve.

Step 2:
You put soda ash in to the holed plastic container, then fill it with clean water, then put the holed plastic container into another bigger container where the resultant mixture will be collected, which is  used for cooking food to make it soft.  The amount to be used depends largely on the size of the food to be cooked, however Two to three table spoonful is enough.
See picture for processing...
(3) Take note that if you fill the 500ml container with ashes to halfway full, then that can help you extract solution of up to one litre and can keep for future use. This means that you will keep refilling the container that has the ashes with clean water until you have extracted solution equivalent to one litre anymore extraction will be less effective.

AVAILABILITY
This kind of traditional soda ash is readily available at various points which include: Gikomba open air market Muthurwa open shades market, Toy market in Kibera and Burma market just to mention a few.
Charges of traditional soda ash ranges from hundred shillings for a two kilogramme container better known as (gorogoro) by mama mboga and the smallest is a twenty shillings container which is about 200 grams.
(4) Importance of passing Indigenous Knowledge
(i) It empowers people economically i.e. Mama Mboga’s who have the knowledge of preparing Omusherekha (Omunyu), are able to make an income out of their knowledge by preparing and selling to others.
(ii) Traditionally prepared soda ash is free from chemicals hence fit for human consumption.
(5) Production cost of Soda Ash
Production cost is almost free since material used is sort of recycled, i.e. Banana peelings, beans thrashings and grass harvesting along the river swamp depends on ones own energy to harvest as much as one is capable of.
Traditional soda ash production has been seen as a Woman’s work hence not many men fork have ideas about “OMUSHEREKHA” preparation but enjoy delicacy cooked using it.
Besides many city dwellers may have little knowledge about this vital commodity, but with this information available and through interactivity those interested can easily pick up and put them in practice.

CONCLUSION
Indigenous knowledge has been and will remain a working force hence it has to be harnessed for posterity.
Finally knowledge is power invest and use “Umusherekha” as indigenous soda ash for better health.

Story Contributed by: JOHN AMULAKU MAJENGO
RESOURCE CENTRE – MAIN LIBRARY
NATIONAL MUSEUMS OF KENYA

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