Chibuku was the brainchild of a German man who did business in Kitwe. He was the man who actually built the original Nkana Hotel.

His name was Heinrich. Heinrich used to trade a lot in the African mining townships on the Copperbelt and realised that the miners who were all recruited from the villages all over the country and indeed even in Malawi and Tanzania all had one thing in common, a love for traditional beer brewed with millet, sorghum or maize.

He saw a business opportunity. He got some women to teach him how to brew traditional African beer and he then developed a process of brewing it in industrial quantities and hygienically. Today’s chibuku is fermented from sorghum malt and maize hops. Its taste is at its best after a couple of days of being brewed. The imbibers then say, “Ubwalwa nabukalipa” meaning the beer is strong. Direct translation would be,”The beer is angry😂”

He then made a deal with the mine township owners to open taverns in the townships where the beer was delivered in huge tankers and then dispensed in buckets.

He went even further when he noticed that business was only good at paydays. He went to the Mine township manager and set up a system where miners would write their names and mine numbers in a big ledger and at the month end the mines would deduct from the miners pay. A broke miner would say, “Mpeni ko ubwalwa , mulembe mu chi buku? (Please may I have a carton and write it in the big book?)

His beer began to be called ubwalwa bwamu chi buku. Heinrich and his workers began to call it Chi buku (Big Book.) His company Heinrich Syndicate grew and covered Zambia and Zimbabwe before it was bought out by Anglo American.

So all those Kenyans, Zimbabweans, Malawians, South Africa and Batswana trying claim that Chibuku is their brand, it was born in Zambia. Chibuku is now marketed in East and West Africa and Botswana and South Africa. It is also known as Shake Shake or Sheki Sheki….”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here