Preparation, Storage, And Utilization Of Mahewu (A Non-Alcoholic Maize Meal Beverage) In Ntambanana, South Africa

N. R. Olusanya*, U. Kolanisi, A. Van Onselen, N. Ngobese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Maize is among the top three grain crops in the world. In Africa, especially Southern Africa, maize is the basic ingredient in fermented soft porridge known as Mahewu. Mahewu is a refreshing drink, produced at the household level using various practices and ingredients as a fermentation enhancer. The underprivileged consume Mahewu as the main meal of the day and hence, Mahewu is a source of dietary nutrients for many populations in Africa and South Africa. The ingredient and practices of making Mahewu differ from one ethnic group to another. However, some of the indigenous practices are not well reported. These practices are fading away, hence, there is limited information on some indigenous practices. This paper reports some traditional practices of making Mahewu in Zulu-based households in Ntambanana, a rural municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. An ethnographic research approach was adopted for the study to gain insight into the traditional practices of making Mahewu. Probing of key informants, interviews, and observations were complemented by four focus group discussions, within the range of 10-12 regular consumers of Mahewu. Four focus group discussions were conducted in Buchanana and Luwamba in Ntambanana; findings consistently reveal that Mahewu is popularly known as “umdokwe” and is consumed by all age groups beginning from four months to the aged. Irish potatoes (Solanum tuberosum), imbiliso, inserting a saucer, or a spoon deep down into the Mahewu container were mentioned and identified as fermentation enhancers which are lacking in other studies. Therefore, indigenous practices are diminishing while some practices are being lost between generations. Inadequate transfer of these practices might make the drink, to soon be accessible only commercially. To prevent this dilemma, the retention of traditional techniques of making Mahewu with sweet potatoes could promote food and nutrition security while retaining the indigenous practices. This study reports the preparation, storage, and utilization of Mahewu, a non-alcoholic maize meal beverage in Ntambanana, South Africa. It is recommended that campaigns promoting indigenous food consumption should form part of health, social development, as well as welfare, hence, food and nutrition interventions should be implemented in rural communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17492-17508
Number of pages17
JournalAfrican Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cereal drink
  • Imbiliso fermentation indigenous
  • Mahewu
  • practices
  • storage Umdokwe


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