A Taste of the Devil’s Urine
By Ebenezer Awuah
The Devil’s urine comes as a nickname for an alcoholic drink brewed locally in the West African sub-region. Many poor people consume this local drink because it is cheaper compared to drinks brewed from authentic or recognized breweries or factories. The name differs from country to country and in Ghana, the local drink is known popularly as akpeteshie and has many more nicknames according to how one behaves under its influence.
In an incident where this writer was present, and which forms the basis of this article, Ricardo, (nickname for a popular town guy), misbehaved at an outdooring party which he organized to outdoor his baby boy. Ricardo is a carpenter by profession and people admire him for his skills. He had been married to a young woman for five years without a baby and so when the woman eventually conceived and delivered a baby boy for Ricardo he was overjoyed.
On the morning of the day of outdooring the baby, before the arrival of invited friends and relatives, Ricardo went out to taste some few tots of akpeteshie. By the time he arrived home to expect his visitors he was dazed and could not hold himself well.
When his mother-in-law asked him why he was misbehaving himself Ricardo picked up a quarrel with her and insulted her. His in-law told him that he could not get any better drink to taste that morning other than the Devil’s urine which undoubtedly would render him insane. This infuriated him the more and he went out to drink more of the urine.
Akpeteshie is produced through a simple distillation process which involves little or no technology. The raw materials for this process involve palm wine, sugar cane, granulated sugar, yeast and water. Sometimes some unconventional materials like rusted metal are said to be used by unscrupulous persons. The product from this latter material can be very dangerous to consume.
Better or quality product also comes from the storage process. The liquor is expected to be stored in containers and kept underground for at least six months before it is released for consumption. But the high demand for it makes such long periods of storage undesirable.
Akpeteshie in its unadulterated form is also raw material for the production of other brands of alcoholic beverages. It is redistilled to make it better for producing other alcoholic drinks which come in better form than the original akpeteshie.
There are no statistics on the production and consumption of Akpeteshie but it is believed to be very high. In Ghana that is the most consumed alcoholic drink and has several nicknames some of which are: VC 10, Blue Kiosk, Kill me quick, Amfere w’ase, Ogogoro, APC, Panin de panin, Raw, Fee wo se, Moonwalk.
Upon careful analysis of all things related to the consumption of this kind of urine, some of my observations are as follows:
1. People who indulge in drinking akpeteshie quite often do not command any respect in society.
2. People who produce or sell the drink rarely become rich from the trade.
3. People who drink always squeeze their faces after drinking due to its sharp taste and pungent smell.
4. Most people who get heavily boozed do so from drinking Akpeteshie.
5. It is the favorite drink of most alcoholics.
6. The drink has serious health implications for those who indulge in it. For some, symptoms of acquired diseases are quite visible to the ordinary eye.
7. Respected and rich people in society drink it in secrecy and do not show any sign of liking it because the drink is considered to be unrefined, low cost, and favorite of low class people.
Some Good Sides
In spite of the above there are a few positive things about Akpeteshie which can be enumerated as follows:
1. In some communities in Ghana it is seen as an antidote to Covid-19 and people patronize its consumption. However this has not been substantiated by any Medical Doctor or Scientist. May be this assertion by consumers is used as a justification to indulge in its consumption.
2. It can serve as an appetizer for food when the right quantity is taken. In fact this is the more reason many people consume it.
3. It is used to prepare herbal medicine and taken at regular intervals.
4. Akpeteshie can be consumed in cold climates or conditions to produce heat in the body to counter cold weather.
5. It is used as a traditional drink at many traditional ceremonies and functions.
The alcoholic content of this drink is high. That is why it wastes no time in knocking off those who play with it. So economically, not too much is spent if one wants to feel the booze. However, much caution is needed with its consumption in order to avoid being addicted.
Being addicted can bring with it serious health implications. Eating too much food is gluttony and sin, likewise drinking too much. Watch out how you involve yourself in drinking alcohol. The Devil’s urine doesn’t taste any good. It may not be good for you even if it it is good for your brother.