Note from Krista: I'm excited to introduce a new weekly segment! You see, I can share with you what I see and experience in Africa, but it is still a visitor's perspective. It is so interesting to see and hear from someone who lives there. An insider's perspective. I have gotten to know Bryan through social media, and when I presented the idea of him blogging for us once a week he was excited to do so. We are also excited to have him share his insights into life in Kibera slums, Kenya with our readers. I may have spent time in Kibera, but the truth is I don't know what it is like to live there. To grow up there. So we welcome Bryan and his weekly posts to shed some light to what life is like in Kibera! This is where so much of our jewelry come from - and as you read his posts weekly, I'm sure you will recognize why we are so passionate about empowering the men and women there through job creation!
Alcoholism has taken part in the lives of men in Kibera. A lot of men have lost focus and plunged into the dungeon of chang'aa drinking. Chang'aa is a locally brewed alcoholic drink, most of it contains methanol, a toxic chemical that can make one go blind. The drink itself is sold in 500 ml bottles and sometimes in small tots at only 10 shillings (13cents CDN/10cents US). It is a highly addictive drink and users tend to drink it more often than any other beverage.
For most men in Kibera, they usually drink chang'aa more than water and when asked what's their motive and why they drink too much of something that is toxic and lethal then their response is usual shocking. They'll go ahead and say something in the line of, "you know chang'aa makes you forget your problems and It also relieves one from stress". But that's exactly the opposite of what's real. Chang'aa has been the main cause of many broken marriages and dead relationships. It's been a conflict itself and most men, usually fathers, have failed their families. I mean how does it feel like when someone who's supposed to mentor and watch you grow is lost in the world of a cheap alcoholic brew? It's sickening. Most of the kids, have also grown up without a father, mothers have taken charge and the role of a father is now for them. For instance if you ask any child in Kibera about their parents then they will be quick to mention mum - no father no dad. Most chang'aa drinkers - the men usually have also lost their respect in the society. After leaving the chang'aa dens, then they transform into completely different types of human, they will art all sorts of insults and obscene phrases along the street corners and alleys in Kibera. They sleep on the roadsides and in dirty drainage trenches and remain unresponsive for hours. In extreme cases some usually sleep to their death.
Chang'aa itself is a contagion that is slowly killing the male generation of Kibera - people who are meant to build a strong foundation in the community. While all these is happening, chang'aa sellers and brewers are smiling to the bank on a daily business because this illegal concoction is a highly lucrative business that continued to thrive with the help of senior authorities in and around the slum. With just a tip, then somebody's life and family income will be in the hands of the chang'aa brewers.
This photo shows people drinking chang'aa in Kibera.
Bryan Jaybee was born and raised in Kibera slums where he still resides. He is 22 years old and a journalism student at Multimedia University of Kenya, currently in his final year. Bryan will be sharing an insider’s view on life in Kibera every Tuesday on our blog with his photos and words. You can follow Bryan on instagram at @kiberastories for daily posts on life in Kibera.