Illegal Brewing in KenyaOctober 18, 2011 by Angela Vincent
Last year, in a controversial presidential decision, Kenya signed into law a bill that legalizes the traditional home-brewed spirit called changaa.
Changaa, translated literally means “kill me now”, and according to studies, kills more than 100 people annually in Kenya.
But changaa is less of a problem of physical health than it is social, mental, and familial; tearing apart families and destroying local economies due to lack of productivity. The government admits that the country is sitting on a time bomb unless the problem of idle youth is dealt with urgently. ‘When the youth are idle they are easily lured to crime. We have seen the consequence of having idle youth. The post-election violence was mainly driven by idle youth.’ Kenya’s youth are treading a dangerous, increasingly alcohol-fuelled path that is leaving them vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
By legalizing changaa, officials hope to take business away from establishments where toxic chemicals are added to the brew to make it stronger – sometimes with deadly results.
The bill also introduces safety regulations, although some MPs have questioned how these rules will be enforced.
Changaa is much cheaper than other alcoholic drinks, making it the beverage of choice for thousands of Kenyans.
However, some point out that under the new bill, changaa can only be sold in glass bottles, which would increase the cost.
This could mean some people will continue to drink the illicit – and potentially poisonous – brews.
ELI is determined to see lives set free from the addiction of alcohol and has implemented several important initiatives and programs that are having a dramatic impact on hundreds of lives for the better. Read more about the ELI Kenya Anti Alcohol ministry here.
(photos: Micah Albert)