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Bembe resorts to selling roasted rat meat in Kasese

By Alex Baluku

A 31-year-old woman has resorted to selling rat meat as a way of making ends meet two weeks after the president announced a lockdown that affected her retail shop in Kasese district.

The woman identified as Annie Bembe, a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo has been operating a retail shop at Mpondwe town which is located at the Uganda–DRC border in Kasese district.

She says that she has been struggling to feed her family of three children since the time of the lockdown which was announced as one of the measures to control the spread of coronavirus. Her shop has been closed as authorities insisted that only food markets are allowed to operate yet from DRC.

Bembe says that she is now riding on the population of DRC nationals in Kasese to find a market for rat meat. While rats are not a delicacy in Uganda, some communities in DRC notably the Nande from Lubero territory in North Kivu province have rodents as part of their menu.

Bembe says she traps the rats from the gardens and wild with the help of young children in the community adding that rats from the houses are not suitable for consumption. Once the rats are trapped its insides are removed and their hair is burned off before its thoroughly roasted. She sells three smoked rats at 1000.

In what seems to be a normal business to the DRC community in Kasese, Bembe says that she is now able to buy some food for her children who were abandoned by their father.

Although Bembe is now selling only roasted rats, the meal can also be cooked with seasonings such as garlic, tomatoes, cooking oil, and water to have a taste of fried or even boiled sauce which is accompanied with Fufu, a doughy mixture of cassava or maize flour and water, a traveller from the Democratic Republic of Congo told this reporter.

Jules Kitoto, a DRC national residing in Mpondwe town says that rat meat can also be an option for Ugandan communities. He says many of them may not afford the cost of beef or even consider beef as an option yet their delicacy is running around in the fields around them.

“Most people don’t even know-how to prepare it, but when I am home and stuck like now, I can buy and cook it for myself,” Kitoto says.

Rev Pastor Pascal Mathumu Kyakimwa from Kiserebere, Kiraru Parish, Kitholu Sub County in Bwera says most families in the community are starving. He says most people took a risk to cross into their fields in DRC on the night President Museveni announced the lock-down and they were stopped from coming back.

Apart from the Democratic Republic of Congo, rats are eaten regularly in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, parts of the Philippines and Indonesia, Thailand, Ghana, China, Vietnam and Nigeria, where the African giant rat is a favourite among all ethnic groups. Records show that in some parts of the world, where rat meat is a delicacy, it costs much more than beef, pork, chicken and fish.

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