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Open Letter to President, the First Lady, the Great People of Benin and the Continent of Africa
The early history of Africa came before the four ancients recorded history of Indus, Mesopotamia, Egypt and China.
The fossil record from Africa shows Homo sapiens living in southern and eastern Africa at least 100,000 and possibly 150,000 years ago. Around 40,000 years ago, their expansion out of Africa which launched the colonization of our planet by modern human-beings did not come about in 8 seconds, 8 minutes or 8 hours or 888.
According to DNA evidences and from documented slave trade as well as cultural retention in Haiti, my ancestors are found in Africa in modern day:
3. Burkina Faso
6. Congo (Congo-Brazzaville)
7. Equatorial Guinea
11. Ivory Coast
19. South Africa
21. Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
As an African descent whose ancestors were sold into slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries and were brought to Saint-Domingue or modern day Haiti to work on the plantations by the French, I am honored and excited to go back to the Mother Land of Africa to launch the first-ever American 888 Lucky Craft Beer Tours of 21 countries in Africa where the lineages of my ancestors have been identified.
Date of travel: To be determined
Location: To be determined
In retrospect, as a child growing up in Haiti, I was always intrigued and fascinated by the Chinese culture and especially Kung Fu movies.
Hence, in February of 2015, I visited the beautiful country of China and spent a month in Chongqing. It was a dream that materialized just like a movie. The Chinese people were very friendly, hospitable, left a profound joy and admiration in my heart.
After experiencing the social lifestyle and the tradition of cheers, "ganbei" or 干杯 in China, upon my return in the United States of America (USA), I was inspired to start a craft beer company from a recipe I developed as a homebrewer.
The style of beer that I developed is the American version of the British India Pale Ale or IPA. The IPA style is known for its strong hop character, dates to the 1800s and is the fastest-growing and best-selling style of craft beer in USA.
In memory and in reciprocity of the warm and heartfelt welcome that I received from the Great People of China, I would like to offer the following toasts:
I. First Toast or 干杯
Mr. President, First Lady and the Great People of Benin, please allow me to offer you an imaginary first toast or 干杯 of our 888 Lucky IPA Beer by raising my glass up but much lower than all of yours to wish you Luck, Wealth and Prosperity.
II. Second Toast or 干杯
It will be a great honor to personally offer a second toast or 干杯 during my first visit to your country to introduce the first-ever American 888 Lucky IPA craft beer in Africa.
III. Third Toast or 干杯
I am offering a third toast to the Great People of Angola because I am certain that you will like, the 888 Lucky IPA named Best Tasting Beer in New York, USA and 888 Pilsner whose recipe won Gold in Maryland, USA, Made in Washington DC USA by a descendant of your ancestors.
IV. Fourth Toast or 干杯
According to a Chinese proverb: "Hearing a hundred times is not as good as seeing once."
I am excited and cannot wait to visit and see with my own eyes the countries of my ancestors, greet and meet many of my brothers and sisters from the Mother Land of Africa which will be far better than ten thousand words can ever express.
Therefore, please allow me to offer you one last Toast or 干杯, Mr. President, the First Lady, the Great People of Benin and the continent of Africa, I wish you once more, many years of Luck, Wealth and Prosperity or 888. Learn more at http://www.paugustin.com
Pierre Richard Augustin, MPA, MBA
President and CEO, AdMerk Corp. Inc.
Beverage to try in Benin
Peuhl Women in the North Selling Beverages
Drinking is part of welcoming stage when anyone enters a home in Benin. Drinks are immediately served and you are expected (but not obligated) to take a sip as a respect to the host. In remote areas, the drinks are served in a calabash bowl and passed around to share. It might feel creepy or uncomfortable to share a bowl with multiple people but it’s part of the customs especially when visiting villages. Calabash bowls are also used to serve food in.
Set of Calabash – Bowls and Serving Spoons
There are a few unique beverage to try in Benin. They both alcoholic and non-alcoholic and can be bought on the street as you would buy Beninese food. Most of them are made in the homes of the seller using traditional filtering methods. They are sold either in plastic bottles or in a wooden bowl that you usually have to drink fast and give back to the seller who will then clean it and re-use it with another buyer. They are cheap and are worth trying to get an idea of what they would taste like.
This is Benin #1 alcoholic liquor. It’s made with fermented Palm tree sap that is infused with local fruits and herbs. It’s the Beninese version of Vodka and it can be found practically in any town in Benin. Sodabi is what the locals pull out when you are invited over and is also the most requested and used liquor during many religious activities especially Voodoo. It’s often sold on the street but certain bars carry it as it has become commercialized . It’s a 60% proof alcohol and is cheap to buy ( a liter cost about $3! )
Tchapalo In a Calabash
Tchapalo is fermented corn that is distilled and bottled before selling. It’s usually processed in a wooden jar with lemongrass. This method of fermentation give it a very unique earthy and woody flavor. It contains a very small alcohol content however, kids can be seen consuming it in Benin. It’s a beverage that is very refreshing and cheap to buy. It can be found on the streets and it’s served cold so the fermentation doesn’t continue and turns into a higher alcoholic beverage.
Tchoukoutouou (Shou-Ku-Tou) or Tchouk (Shouk)
Tchouk is around the same family as Tchapalo but is of a much higher alcohol content and can with maid either with corn or sorghum or both mixed together. This beverage usually looks brown and cloudy. It is however very refreshing, a little tart and taste every earthy. It’s usually served in a calabash bowls or is put in a clear bottle with holes on the top to let it “breathe”. It’s usually sold on the street, cheap to get and is worth a try.
La Beninoise – Benin National Beer
This is Benin national Beer as well as the cheapest Beer to buy. The breweries are located in Cotonou (in the South of Benin) and Parakou (North of Benin). The taste is very similar to Amstel light or Heineken.
Bissap juice is a non alcoholic drink made with dried hibiscus flower which is boiled with sugar and other herbs. In the Caribbean countries, it is known as Sorrel. It looks like cranberry juice juice but with a very floral note. It’s high in Vitamin C and is very delicious and refreshing. Some sellers make pops out of them or it can be consume as a juice. It’s usually infused with vanilla beans or lemongrass for an extra added touch of flavor.
The best part of all these beverages is that they are easy to find and cheap to buy. Do not be surprised if you see children purchase some of the alcoholic beverages. Although Benin has an age limit of 18, some of the lower alcoholic beverage such as Tchakpalo are seen consumed by them. However, they are conscious of the ones with higher alcohol content and will not be seen drinking them.
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