The Drunken Republic Series: The History of the Word ‘Waragi’

The History of the Word Waragi
In 2019, Uganda banned Waragi sachets. [Image: Uganda Vanguard]

One brewery company in Uganda used to run an advert for one of their products with a slogan “….. Waragi the spirit that binds us”

For years, Ugandans have locally brewed and consumed a gin made from sugar canes to ripe bananas with highly unregulated alcohol content beyond 60% or more(my estimate).

The origin of this spirit is sketchy though the only known narrative is that it was brought by the Nubian soldiers who came to Uganda with Emin Phasa from Sudan in the late 18th century.

It is said that these soldiers when under its influence were known to be fearless at the “war front” so it earned the name “WAR GIN” and the Baganda localized the name to “WARAGI”. Since then, all Gins have been called “waragi”.

By world standard, Ugandans have been categorized among “the first five most alcohol consuming nations of planet Earth”

True to this statement, we produce more comedians that fall into the category of clowns. In fact the Nigerian comedian “Clint the drunk” should get a Holiday for 2 weeks in Uganda, just to watch us, and will have episodes that will last him a decade.

From church to politics we act drunk on either power, fame, or wealth and will do anything to keep it that way.

Yes, we have a spirit that binds us as a nation. Like drunkards whose sense of judgment is affected by too much “waragi”, we drive on roads like we are “under the influence”, reading gives us a blurred vision so we would rather listen to one talk than reading for ourselves.

Like half-asleep drunkards, we nod in agreement to the statements of fellow half intoxicated radio and TV presenters.

We have less time to think as we have minds occupied therefore, we fit in the available “set standards” lest we get questioned by those around us whether we are drunk. Actually, those outside these standards are considered drunk by the drunkards.

We believe every man should have an English premier league team to support sometimes with a club t-shirt, be able to name a few players, walk in a bar these have since dropped the title bar and now called “lounges” (more sophisticated aren’t we) with TV showing the match, mix with all levels of class discussing how he is going to fire the coach or buy a player from Italy.

Everyman should belong to a political party either government or the seemingly leading opposition party, group, or wave. Outside of this, you are considered drunk.

Opinion by Absolom Lubwama

Absolom Lubwama does printing write-ups, language translation, and events planning. He began writing his debut novel during the first covid outbreak and world lockdown in 2020 with the use of a mobile phone. He is the author of Behind the storm and Marriage an African man’s perspective. When he’s not writing, he offers a free hand at counseling, plays the saxophone, takes nature walks, travels taking photographs, or does journaling at a coffee shop.

Absolom Lubwama

Contributor, The Postdale Daily

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