Wild Coast, South Africa: Shabeen A Local Pub

Visiting the local Shabeen in Wild Coast, South Africa

 We were staying in a remote town near Mdumbi River in South Africa. In this village there was a small Shabeen, South Africa's answer to a local pub.  Since spending my formative years in the UK at various pubs since I was able to sit at and reach the bar  ( ranging from the old, rustic ones which are living history, where the brewery is next door and a pipe connection is the supply of local brew) to the modern city pub in London,  we decided to pay a visit to taste a local brew.

Stepping into a structure the size of a medium sized room, one could see a "bar" basically bare but  with a few bottles of local alcohol, and other small snack items, and a woman with a friendly smile behind the bar.

The other side of the shabeen had two elderly women dressed in the local clothing worn in the Transkei region, sitting next to a bowl peeling by hand kernels of maize. Along the wall were a few wooden chairs where a woman was sitting and a man who looked like he already had plenty to drink.

We ordered a local brew, which came out of a container resembling a milk carton. The brew was not like any lager or ale like we know of in Europe or the UK, but more like a foamy yogurt shake. It had a fermented taste with an earthy aftertaste. The women in the shabeen sat next to me and , when I offered some to them, began to kneel down to me and, graciously handle and accept the beer container from both of  my hands to theirs as if it were a precious item. I felt so humbled. The woman took a sip of the brew and, in the same, very polite manner, handed it back to me using both hands. I, using both of my hands to almost ceremoniously take a sip out of the container, and I handed it to the older man, in the same fashion. His smile was beaming with delight. I offered it to him as a gift. 
Just a few sips of that local brew gave my head a spin and I stumbled out of the shabeen as if I had a pint. I can't imagine what I would be like had I completely finished that container!

I heard of other shabeens around Africa which serve beer and have dancing and lively entertainment. I look forward to visiting those, all around  (the alcohol beverage serving countries in) Africa of course!


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