Home Made Poison.

Cheap and illicit brews or- home made poison as they seem to prove themselves to be- are nothing new as are the dire consequences of downing these hazardous concoctions: blurred vision, severe pain, blindness and most likely death. All for a quick drink for a few hours of drunken bliss then endless hours/days of pain before death comes calling the apparent logic here in completely eludes me as I am sure many non drinkers or home brew fanatics. This must have been one of the reasons why phrases like if the deal is too good think twice or cheap is costly –or something along those lines- were coined.
In the past week or so a more startling revelation was brought to the attention of those foolishly not in the know around the country when a shockingly informative investigative piece was beamed into living rooms country wide. The peace showed how a group of HIV positive women in Nairobi’s Korogocho slums use their life saving drugs to lace alcohol they brew within the slum then set loose on an unsuspecting booze mad nation. The ladies whose identities were concealed –who can blame them for demanding anonymity in exchange for their jaw dropping tale- explained in detail how their brew goes from inception and packaging to the market they also told the viewer that the ARV tablets are not their only secret ingredient, the other being Formalin: an aqueous solution used as a disinfectant, embalming fluid, and film stabilizing chemicals, to this they add water then molasses. (For more on this watch the video below: Sisters of Death)

The reverberating after- shock of the documentary has caused not only outrage from normal citizens but also the National Aids and Sexually Transmitted Infections Control Programme to ask the government to clamp down on those who make the brews and also install a database to monitor genuine ARV users and also keep track of when they receive their medication. Before this there were no strict regulations on the dispensation of the medication- an HIV positive patient is entitled to a bottle of 60 tablets each month, no questions asked. The practice will continue to endanger the women who were kind enough to give those who drink their highly potent brew a caution- eat well.
As the line and gap between the have and the have not’s grows larger and longer by the day those who have little have been forced by their circumstances to rely on their natural born wit to scheme and scam in order to earn a living. This is not the only illicit brew concocted to earn money but ending as a merchant of death it is but one in a long line of deadly that include ‘Kimi-Kumi’, and ‘Yokozuna’. With this latest revelation the government is forced to do battle with ghosts that never quite disappear.

One would logically think that watching investigative pieces such as this would serve to scare those in search of the quick high far, far away and that death would do the trick, but alas the answer is a mind boggling and resounding no as more and more people put both eye sight and life on the line for that quick drunken fix. The latest to succumb to the epidemic are the daredevils in Iten who consumed a lethal brew deceptively named ‘Fiesta’ that was manufactured in Thika, but that party was to end tragically for five people among them a teacher who ingested the apparent poison.

But with mortality never a certainty in the first place one must wonder why some people bullishly persist down this road to a most certain death. Surely no brew no matter how potent or problem no matter how demoralising or crushingly unsolvable is worth this temporary high and eventual painful loss of life.


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