Les Bwaba Boivent (Lay Bwa-bah Bwahv)
Let’s break down this common French(ish) phrase real quick: the Bwaba are the predominant ethnic group from right around my site up to the Malian border, and “boivent” is the plural conjugation of the French verb “boire”, to drink. So, the Bwaba drink. They drink dolo to be more specific; and, not to make broad generalizations regarding one of Burkina’s finest ethnic groups, but that’s often all they do. Dolo is a fermented millet beverage freshly brewed and sold every day in Founzan at your (my) nearest dolo-selling cabaret or dolo-ry. It’s an acquired taste, which is a fancy way of saying it tastes kinda bad, but I’m never afraid to have a few calabashes in order to prove my integration and worth among Bwaba friends. Dolo ferments as the day goes on, so in my review of it I decided to have a calabash or two during the morning, the middle of the day, and the evening in what turned out to be a very tiring and slightly hazy day. Here goes.
Dolo is best in the morning before the sun rises. It’s served warm and tastes a bit like an apple cider except more tart–like an apple cider brewed with apple flavored Jolly Ranchers instead of real apples. Sogoma dolo is sweet and sour and leaves an uncomfortable feeling in the back of your mouth. There’s no fruit involved in the brewing process, but this impressive pallet sensed a hint of the tropics, pineapple or mango perhaps.
A little after noon, dolo’s sourness becomes sharper and converges aggressively to the top of the throat where it lingers. The fruity tropical nuances I pretended to taste this Sogoma are replaced with a faint smokey wood-like sensation that can be smelled as well as tasted. Tilefe dolo is no longer purposefully served warm out of the cauldron but is still quite warm thanks to the giant burning ball of fire looming ominously overhead. I’d also like to thank said giant ball of fire for the fact that recently when strangers greet me it’s no longer « bonjour le blanc », but « bonjour le rouge ». Time to up the SPF, I suppose.
By 5:30 that evening all the dolo at my main cabaret had been consumed, but luckily I managed to find wulafe dolo at a small dolo-ry by my house to finish off this nauseatingly pretentious review post. I don’t want to exaggerate or sound like I’m complaining but this stuff seriously hurts to ingest. The acidic day-long fermentation takes precedence over any other discernible taste and seems to assault the mouth and throat in its descent. I struggle to keep a straight face in front of my neighbors as I drink. Suddenly my consiousness dwindles. My vision goes blurry and when I try to get up I realize I’ve lost all feeling in the left side of my body. I wake up hours later, cold under the moonlight with a film of dust-coated saliva on the side of my face that hit the gr–Eh fine it’s not that bad. Here’s a picture of the next day’s dolo brewing.