Shebeen

A shebeen [shuh-been] was originally an illicit bar or club where alcoholic beverages were sold without a licence. The term has spread far from its origins in Ireland, to Scotland, Canada, the US, England, Zimbabwe, the Caribbean, Namibia, and South Africa. In South Africa and Zimbabwe, shebeens are most often located in black townships as an alternative to pubs and bars, where under apartheid and the Rhodesian era, black Africans could not enter a pub or bar reserved for whites. Originally, shebeens were operated illegally, selling homebrewed and home-distilled alcohol and providing patrons with a place to meet and discuss political and social issues.

Often, patrons and owners were arrested by the police, though the shebeens were frequently reopened because of their importance in unifying the community and providing a safe place for discussion. During the apartheid era shebeens became a crucial place for activists to meet. They also provided music and dancing, allowing patrons to express themselves culturally, giving rise to the musical genre kwaito. Currently, shebeens are legal in South Africa and have become an integral part of urban culture, serving commercial beers as well as umqombothi, a traditional African beer made from maize and sorghum

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.