Picture mashed sweet potatoes and beans mingled to form a meal. I am talking about Omugoyo. I still look back fondly at memories of my mother’s omugoyo. Every time she used to prepare it for lunch and later keep some for breakfast, I would whistle in excitement. It was the feeling of knowing what was on my plate for the day and the euphoria that surrounded it.
This delicacy was prepared occasionally because it takes long to make. Nonetheless, it is quite popular in some communities. The Iteso call it “emugoyo”, the Baganda simply refer to it as Mugoyo or Omugoyo to mean that which is mingled.
The ingredients of omugoyo give both a health and mouth-watering experience. Sweet potatoes are lip-smacking, beans, an enriching protein, mix the two and you get a meal worth a taste. Remember the song by Moses Matovu of Afrigo band (originally done by Fred Ssebaduuka in 1952) with the lines “ekyinjagaaza ekaadde lwakulya mugoyo” which literally meant that the reason one liked an aging woman was because of the omugoyo she prepared.
In Buganda, omugoyo has been associated with aging women. “Only old women have the patience to prepare omugoyo since the process in itself is relatively straining,” says Ssalongo Tonny Lukyamuzi, a Buganda historian. The common myth about omugoyo in Buganda is that two lovers are not supposed to serve each other omugoyo. It is believed that such an act would extinguish the fire and may even result into a failed relationship.
Making the best of the Mugoyo experience
According to Florence Ndagire, it is best to prepare the omugoyo over firewood. “The smoke from the firewood adds a great taste to the mugoyo during the baking moment (kubobeeza).” Ndagire further explains that in case one wants to have mugoyo with coffee or tea for breakfast, then one can cover it in plantains and momentarily roast it on the traditional kiganda stove (ekyoto).
Joseph Mayanja, recommends using sweet-potatoes that are dark purple and red-kidney beans (nambale). “Red Kidney beans give the Mugoyo the perfect brownish colour, lavender and gold sweet potatoes (dimbuka) are not recommended for omugoyo.” The reason dimbuka is not recommended is because of its exceeding softness which the baganda refer to as okulebeera, in the case of Pinto beans (kanyebwa), they make the mash or complete mélange devoid of the brownish colour.