Hibiscus: Africa’s well kept secret

Hibiscus Sadbiriffa a famous African plant also known as Lumanda in Bemba and Sindambi in Lozi. The plant has medicinal properties for high blood pressure patients.

Hibiscus or Hibiscus sabdiriffa as it is known scientifically is a herbal plant with beautiful blood red flowers that is native to West Africa where it known as Bissap. It grows all year around and can be found as a shrub in bushes and gardens all over the world. Hibiscus is also common in Zambia and is known as lumanda in iciBemba, sidambi in Silozi, katolo in kiKaonde and wusi in chiLunda.

Hibiscus is believed to have been an important herb in ancient civilisations and has long been used for its medicinal properties. In the Philippines, the roots are used to stimulate appetite and treat general weakness (or malaise). In Guinea, West Africa, the seeds are crushed and used as a diuretic or a sedative while in Angola, the leaves are the primary ingredient of a traditional cough remedy. Interestingly, in North and West Africa, hibiscus leaves are used to make a past time drink called Karkade or sobo.
It works well for high blood pressure.

What’s the fuss about hibiscus?
Well, for starters, hibiscus is known to work extremely well for high blood pressure. A study in the United States of America found that taking at least three cups of hibiscus tea daily can help significantly to control high blood pressure. Hibiscus is also good for pain relief, cough, liver disorder, weight loss and general malaise. The leaves are perhaps the most used part. Similar to the seeds, the leaves have sedative properties that can help you sleep and relax. They also have a tart and berry-like flavour and a refreshing aroma, making them tolerable and enjoyable. Unlike other parts, hibiscus leaves are easier to use and prepare.

Tumwe Swensi
So how can you enjoy the benefits of one of Africa’s well kept secrets? The answer is ‘Tumwe Swensi’ – our very own hibiscus drink. It combines hibiscus with ginger, lemon, and a sweetener of your choice (we suggest natural unrefined honey). Tumwe Swensi is which means ‘let’s drink’ in Nawanga allows you to quench your thirst while reaping the herbal benefits of hibiscus. It is very easy and quick to prepare and can be served either hot or cold.

How to Prepare Tumwe Swensi
Tumwe Swensi will take you at least five minutes to prepare. You will need a freshly cut lemon, freshly pressed ginger juice/powder, hibiscus powder, honey, a jar and a blender.

  • Add 2 tablespoons of hibiscus powder and 2 cups of either hot or cold water into a jar.
  • Add ½ a cup of ginger juice or 2 tablespoons of ginger powder to the jar.
  • Squeeze in ½ a lemon and add honey to taste.
  • Blend until it is well mixed and then, strain off.
  • Enjoy!!
    /I am Well/