Kisii’s Staple Food is not Bananas but Amaruranu

Three Weeks ago, I visited my village after 16 years. I learnt three things about my culture. One, anger is inevitable- This happened the same day I had just stepped into the Village in question. Two, Kisii’s Fermented milk with Ugali and managu (the one from kisii) is the delicacy not Matoke. Three, kisii calves are genetic due the hills.

One of the main products my aunt sold her monopolised shop was amaruranu to mean fermented. Amabere should be the milk. 20 Liters of milk served a very small population per day with per household taking at least 300ml of it. Now you know an easy way to grab their land.

This is not your typical fermented milk. Its hard to explain its taste leave alone its appearance. Its not even like Mursik or any other fermented milk from all over the world. Its even hard for a kisii to make it without a starter culture. (I will find the kisii word used here). To make this easy, this scientific article does a good job in explaining.

Amabere amaruranu is a fermented milk product that is prepared by spontaneous fermentation of milk using a gourd made from the hollowed out fruit  of Lagenaria spp. Amabere amaruranu is popular among members of Abagusii, who inhabit the Kisii highlands on the southwestern part of Kenya. It is made from cow’s milk that is heated and held at boiling point for 10 min. The milk is then added to a small portion of fermented milk from a previous batch after cooling for 10–20 min and left to ferment at ambient temperature ranging from 10 to 32°C. Two types of containers are used for fermentation, gourd and plastic containers. Milk fermented using the gourd is more popular of the two. The product is white in color, has a grain‐like appearance, low viscosity, is lumpy in nature, and acidic in taste.


The researcher has done a good job in explaining the type of bacteria used in this type of milk and differences in contamination and bacteria volume when using a plastic container and a gourd (Kirandi). This is a good business idea that is easily adaptable to other Kenyans like my mom who come from the othe side of Kenya that will come to love it just like my mom.

Where is the business gap?

I hear you start with boiling the milk and adding lemon to it after it has cooled down to ferment. Truth is, No one hardly starts it. People borrow or buy. When the Kikuyu and Indian community are inheriting business ideas, Kisii’s are inheriting amaruranu, Tea Plantations and some Witchcraft.

In the town area, it is hard to maintain such a delicacy due to contaminated milk and pasteurized milk. They have to go to their ancestral land to get a taste of it once in a while or ask for it to be sent using a package.

Kisii’s living in the diaspora do not ask for bananas which are easier to transport and I must say are different and sweater if from kisii. They request for the more perishable managu, specifically the species from Kisii and the amaruranu. Its like a drug, a secret they keep to themselves that is very healthy and good source of broken down nutrients ready for absorption.

It also needs an expert who knows how to control the acidity so that it is not too low to be edible. If you delay effecting this innovation since you know how to avoid contamination by starting a clean culture using that article, I will beat you to the finish line.

If you haven’t tasted it, wait until you find a nice kisii who will serve with hot whole ugali or sweat potatoes (amarabuoni).

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