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Mucakwe: Where a plate of maize cobs goes for Sh1000!

Kenyans love mahindi choma with pili pili, but that mucakwe they throw away have other uses beyond feeding cows, lighting fires

Kata ya mbao: Kenyans, like DP William Ruto, love maize roast by the roadside, but once done, throw away the mucakwe. Americans and Chinese have other uses for them.

By Shifa Mwihaki

Feature writer/Essayist

Kenyans love roast maize. Kwanza when hot off the wire mesh. It goes very well with that red pili pili which turns the mouth into a peppery sauna. When done, the mucakwe is simply thrown away.  Maize cobs have better uses in Shags where they’re used for feeding nguno, the resident cow. But just imagine a plate of micakwe goes for about Sh1000 in the land of President Trump, depending on the supermarket.

Mucakwe for export: Maize cobs at Sh970 at an American store. Maize cob is boiled, water filtered and flavoured with honey for cleansing the kidneys. {Photo: Courtesy}

Are you thinking what I am thinking? The Chinese and South Koreans are even bigger consumers of micakwe. Apparently, while Kenyans feed maize cobs to livestock, Americans and Chinese are using them for medicinal purposes. Maize cob is boiled, then the water filtered and flavoured with honey and drank for cleansing the kidneys, according to Dr Akshay Kumar, a leading authority on herbal and alternative medicine.

Jane Wanjiku, a registered nurse in Texas, USA, told Undercover that she’s in a WhatsApp group where some members revealed how they also add dhania into the water of boiling maize cobs and the resultant drink has been ideal for “cleaning the system.”

In some parts of rural Kenya, like Kanyam-Kago village in Migori County, mucakwe was often used as tissue paper

Amaizing: Maize, whose cobs feed livestock in Kenya, have other benefits including dealing with constipation, bronchitis besides controlling diabetes and high blood pressure.

In Kenya, waste maize cobs are also used for lighting fires and Wanjiku says the medicinal use of mucakwe “is what most Kenyans confessed they didn’t know growing up.”

In some parts of rural Kenya, like Kanyam-Kago village in Migori County, mucakwe was often used as tissue paper several years back!

Dr Kumar added that boiled water from micakwe was good for treating ‘burning sensation of urine and weak kidneys’

Fit for Nguno, the cow: Patrick Nakholo, a dairy farmer in Mumias, Kakamega County, uses an electric-powered miller to make livestock feed from maize cobs mixed with molasses and diluted with water.  He sells a 50kg bag of cobs and maize stover at Sh300 and Sh250.

Dr Kumar also added that maize is good for increasing appetite besides dealing with phlegm, bronchitis and bile disorders. It also controls diabetes, prevents heart ailments and lowers High Blood Pressure. Its high fibre content prevents digestive disorders like constipation while the antioxidants in maize helps in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and colorectal cancer.

Dr Kumar also added that boiled water from micakwe was good for treating “burning sensation of urine and weak kidneys,” especially for those suffering from kidney stones. Kenya has about four million people with kidney problems, according to the Ministry of Health, while about 20 percent of adults above 18 have High Blood Pressure issues.

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