Poyo or palm wine is tapped from the palm tree’s all over West Africa on a daily basis. Palm wine, is enjoyed by many throughout the day and well into the night. The most apt adjective I can find to describe the taste of Sierra Leonean Poyo is ‘tree’ it tastes remarkably like the forest, fizzy, fresh and wholesome!
‘From God to Man’ they say and for this reason palm wine has remained an affordable, mostly un-altered local source of nutrition and refreshment and not to forget its merry making qualities. When tapped early in the morning poyo is light at about 2% alcohol, as it ferments throughout the day it becomes more potent reaching about 7% late in the evening. Only the adventurous dare to drink yesterdays poyo without first mixing it with sugar and water.
|Limba Family in Senabu|
The only tribe in Sierra Leone that can climb and tap a palm tree for its delicious sap is the Limba tribe, notorious throughout the country for their aptitude in all things creative and cultural and their resourceful relationship with the forests. That being said not all parts of the country have a Limba contingency…So what do these thirsty Limba-less populations do? Well they build a house and potentially offer a wife in an attempt to attract a man of Limba persuasion to come and join them in their village to ensure a plentiful supply of sweet palm wine of course. Although, all Limba’s are not equal it seems, a lazy Limba will leave an unsatisfied village longing for more and as Ishmael was telling me, in their village they are now searching for a new Limba as the current one never taps enough palm wine for everyone.
The other side of scaling palm trees and supplying villages with sweet wine is tragic with many men losing their lives to their calling. A great deal of the orphans in the northern towns of Sierra Leone have been the victims of this handed down heritage.
|Spot the Limba.|
On a lighter note I’ll end this one with a joke credited to the poyo and pun enthusiast Kieran Hanson: ‘What did the Limba say to the palm tree? I’d tap that!’
|Ali with his Jerry Can of Palm Wine|