How Palm wine tapping is changing lives of Tappers in Bombali

Palm wine friends

“Everything I have is from Palm wine. My wife, my house, five kids and garden” Wine tapper

Special Report from Mohamed Papa Bangura 

Palm wine is a local beverage tapped from palm trees in Sierra Leone. Palm wine tapping is notably known as a job for Poor Limba tribes’ men living in rural communities close to bigger towns and cities.  In Makeni most of the Palm wine is coming from a community called Rosanda about seven miles away from the Northern City. Mountain Wave Blog visited the village market center on the 27th October 2020. Here palm wine buyers and tappers from various locations meet to do transaction for the ever refreshing “From God To Man” fondly called. 

The mission was to sound the views of palm wine tappers and buyers on the economic benefits of this popular local beverage. Denis Kalokoh also called (Cobra) is a senior palm wine tapper whose only job is palm wine tappin. He said palm wine has changed his life because it’s his main source of livelihood.  “I have tapped Palm wine (Poyo) for decades now. Since the days of President Siaka Stevens, I have been tapping Palm wine in Waterloo and several other places”, he said. 

He said he was trained as a small boy in Binkolo in the Safrako Limba Chiefdom in the Bombali District. “Everything I have gotten is from Palm wine tapping, my wife, my house, five Children and everything” said Denis. He said these days having good palm wine in the bush is becoming difficult. “It’s difficult to get nice palm wine (Poyo ) these days. But the price is low. We are only praying for good friends we have helped to in turn help us especially with our children’s education. I have five children but only one is going to school. The other four are at home. I am not healthy and strong enough to send all of them together. But if I have a good Samaritan to help me, I will send all of them” Denis added. 

Tee boy Bangura is also a tapper who has four children. But has only sent two to school. The other two are at home and wants help. 

Memunatu is a palm wine buyer. He always comes from Makeni to buy the “From God to Man” from the tapper. She said she, has been into palm wine business for ages and has been able to educate her children through this business. “I have been able to educate my children through this business, others have sat to the WASSCE Exams. My husband did not have a job. This is our only source of income” she Said.

Joseph M Fornah is the Chairman of the Palm wine Sellers Association in the area. He said the palm wine business has been able to change his life’s story. ” I have been in this business for over thirty (30) years.  I have educated all my children in this business including my eldest son who is now a Priest in the Philippines.  I have built five houses and a big Garden. My son (A Rev Father now) used to sell palm wine with me” he said. Joseph Fornah added that not everyone selling “The From God to Man”local beverage is a drunkard or a loser because he is an example of success in the business. 

The culture of drinking palm wine the local beverage in Sierra Leone is as old as the country itself. Local bars where palm wine is sold are not only used for drinking the beverage. They are places where community members and youths gather to discuss issues on national interest. But just as with other locally made products, palm wine has gotten no added value to make it compete with other local breweries. Hence the tappers are left at the mercy of the buyers who determined the price they thought fit for the purpose. 

So, the future of the kids of these village palm wine tappers who are not going to school is uncertain. They would likely become palm wine tappers themselves to service the community the ever popular “From God to Man” just like their parents.

How Palm wine tapping is changing lives of Tappers in Bombali
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