Dikgafela Stage 1 Stage2

© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Beer Brewing

For about the next two weeks the women are then engaged in brewing traditional sorghum beer.  On a certain day the call from the Chief’s kgotla will go out instructing the housewives “Dikgafela tseo a di a negwe” ( Put the momela out to dry in the sun). A few days later there will be another instruction “Dikgafela tseo a di a thugwe” (the dried momela should now be stemped to make the beer. These co-ordinated instructions are to ensure all the beer is ready at the same time. The beer from each household “belongs” to a man from another household. Brewing this beer is an arduous process.When the sorghum has germinated & been stemped, it is then cooked in large black iron pots over an open fire. This mixture is then left to ferment. Then it is strained through a traditional beer strainer before being poured into a large clay pot. This pot “belongs” to a man from another household except for one smaller pot which  is poured off to be taken to the Chief’s Kgotla for the second stage of Dikgafela.

The Stages of brewing

Traditional beer takes about 3 days to brew and is very hard work. First stemped sorghum is cooked in a large iron cooking pot to make a thick porridge. The lumps are “whisked” out with the usual 3 pronged stick. When cool it is transferred to a large clay beer pot and cold water is mixed in, stemped germinated sorghum (momela) is added and more cold water to make a thin consistency. At this stage it is called “ting” - sour porridge. It is left to ferment for 2 days. The fermented mixture is then poured back into the cooking pot and cooked again. Now it is called mogetlo and when cooled is returned to the clay beer pot and thinned with more cool water. The next day it is strained . The dregs are called moroka wa bojalwa and given to donkeys and goats. As the beer is strained the women start to ululate which is heard all over the sub-kgotla. As all the women are doing it at the same time this is a happy time and small pots are sent out to the kgotla meeting place where men are gathered, for them “to taste”.

Pouring germinated sorghum into pot

Then it is cooked

Calling for assistance

Cooking beer

Straining beer

“Quality control” of the fermented beer

Next stages of brewing beer - the various processes take several days, involving further fermenting and cooking