By Titus Kakembo
It is sundown and all paths lead to the new Ogonjo Bedo Ber Pub in Nebbi. The exodus gets jammed when drums are hit and women chorus a song.
A sitting is sh500 for a mug. Management has the right of admission to the open air setting. Patrons make themselves comfortable on stones, tree stumps, mobile stools, mats and wraps.
Contrary to expectations what is being served is not kwete, Eagle Larger, kicomando or molokony (cow hoof stew) that assumed national status but milk.
It is the first bar serving milk in the country. Women, men and children converge to listen to war and love oral stories articulately narrated by elders.
At times the sitting is spiced with adungu (hand guitar artists) who instantly compose lyrics in praise of a personality.
While there I listened to the proprietor, Juliet Titrach’s business story of how she joined 32 other women to benefit from ‘Send a Cow’ rotating calves.
The brains behind Bedo Ber Pub, Juliet Titriach, in action milking the cow. Photo by Titus Kakembo
“I qualified to get a calf. When it produced, I started milking it 14 liters per day,” confided Titrach. “So I began cooking the milk by the veranda and advertising it by word of mouth. My first customers came expecting to guzzle kwete (beer) or wolf beef.”
To cut the long story short Ogonjo bar handles more than 200 liters of milk from the 40 members.
Eight of them are men. The patrons of the make shift bar consume 80 and the balance is taken to Nebbi town.
Members revealed how women are transforming the lives in their homes.
“Instead of waiting for the rains to fall we have Mandela Kitchen gardens in which we plant spices and vegetables,” said their chairperson Sharifa Chombe.
“You know what? This has made our husbands value us more. We nolonger approach them with shopping lists of every requirement in the home.”
Each of the members dreams of educating their children, constructing permanent iron sheet roofed houses to replace the grass thatched huts and to become economically sound.
The group has a belief that, nothing is either a male or female preserve, so long as it puts food on your table.
“You will not leave the rain to fall on cereals left in the sun to dry,” says Anecho Chombe. “If it is wasted, the whole family loses. Removing the cereals does not reduce your manhood.”
Bedo Ber Pub is now the meeting place for lonely hearts, the business fraternity in the village and local administrators.
Once in a while drunken comedians pop in for mug of milk. One John Jobi narrated, how during his drunken escapades, developed a running stomach and ended up vomiting in the sitting room.
"It was chunks of undigested beef!" confided Jobi. "And yet my family was on a fixed menu vegetables. Meat was served on Christmas day only."
He has since changed and quit beer.
The great pioneers of a Bedo Ber milk pub in the country pose for a photo, to show the rest of the world. Photo By Titus Kakembo