Ogogoro (Ogog') is a west African alcoholic drink, usually brewed locally. It is most popular in Nigeria, where it is known as the country's homebrew. It is also known as akpeteshie (especially in Ghana), Sapele water, Kparaga, kai-kai, Sun gbalaja, Egun inu igo meaning The Masquerade in the Bottle, push-me-push-you, and/or crim-kena, Sonsé ("do you do it?" in Yoruba language). Other Nigerian epithets include: ufofob [Calabar], robirobi [Abeokuta], baba erin [Ilesha], eyinbo gò (white man is not smarter), majidun, etonto [Pidgin English], wuru [Ijaw], Udi Ogagan and Agbakara [Benin] and Aka mere, Agbagba [Urhobo], as well OHMS (Our Home Made Stuff), Iced Water, Push Me, I Push You and Craze man in the bottle.
Properties and preparation
Ogogoro is distilled from the juice of Raffia palm trees; an incision is made in the trunk and a gourd placed outside it for collection, which is collected a day or two later. After extraction, the sap is boiled to form steam, which subsequently condenses and is collected for consumption.
The active ingredient in ogogoro is ethanol, whose concentration within the drink is very high; the alcohol content of local ogogoro ranges between 30-60%. Coupled with the fact that it is often home-brewed by amateurs, the drink can be extremely dangerous. Indeed, it is said that hundreds die every year from improperly brewed ogogoro or other such drinks.
As drink and commodity, respectively, ogogoro carries substantial cultural and economic significance within Nigeria. It is an essential part of numerous religious and social ceremonies; Burutu (Ijaw) priests pour it onto the ground as offerings to contact their gods, while fathers of Nigerian brides use it as a libation by which they provide their official blessing to a wedding.
The economic facets of ogogoro have been equally salient throughout recent Nigerian history. Many poor Nigerian families homebrew the drink as a means of economic subsistence, many of whom sell shots of it on city street corners. The criminalization of ogogoro which occurred under the colonial regime is also believed to have been largely economic; while the public justifications for the law regarded public health and Christian beliefs regarding alcohol, it has been argued that colonial officials were also seeking to suppress local economic activity which might draw money or labor away from the colonial system.