On Drinking and Taita Men, Part 2!

Choke, Mbale

My greatest hope is that you had a fabulous Easter holiday. I did. I travelled to my rural home. As I said before, there is something I love so much about Taita, the people, its scenery, the atmosphere, the fresh air outside the hustle and bustle of the city.

My apologies, for not posting the second part of the Taita Story last Friday. One, I brought with me a modem, unfortunately it couldn’t work in Taita. Secondly, I thought I needed to do more research as far as this story is concerned, so I decided to engage the Taitas themselves, from different parts just to find out, what are their thoughts on this drinking habit. Therefore, I have had to restructure my story altogether. Here are my findings, some of the reasons as to why Kenyan people drink as they do.

Escape from Realities of Life

Taita hills

I am informed that many people just like in many parts of the world, one major reason for excessive drinking, is to escape from the realities of life. Life can be full of stress, frustrations and therefore, the only way to get out of such, many imagine will be through alcohol. “Come and spend some more time in Taita Patience, don’t just come visiting, you will understand what kind of suffering we go through. It is not easy. We have land, but nothing grows here, there are no rains, and the family expects food at the end of the day,  it can be very frustrating. So a drink a day, keeps the frustrations away,” Remarked Mwakio, a Taita man from Wundanyi.

Too much time to Waste

Police destroy illicit brew.

“Life in our villages is not the same as life in Nairobi. This is a fact. After a long day at work, all I want to do is to go home and relax.” Said Mike, a Taita man living in Nairobi. He continues to tell me, that in Nairobi many people are working 2 to 3 jobs to make ends meet, meaning there is no time left to just sit down and even grab a drink. “But in Taita, there is nothing much to be done and you know many people find solace in this drink. If they were busy like we are, they will don’t be drinking at 7 in the morning.” Commented Mike.

Family Influence

Kenyans sipping local brew

If I was going to write this story on my own, you can be sure, I was never going to mention family influence as one of the reasons as to why some Taitas over drink. “This is a huge problem. Many people here are addicted to this not because they want to, but because it is a family problem. You will find very many educated youngsters’ staggering their way home with their brothers and even fathers, all coming from the same drinking den.” Said a Taita man from Choke.

Unemployment

Many of the people I talked to mentioned lack of employment as one key reasons that has continued to champion for drinking of the local brew. It is at this point I ask, why can’t people work even on volunteer basis? Take an example, many of us from my village, cannot drive to our homes, reason being, there are no roads, instead we have pathways. If we had people ready to work on volunteer, for the benefit of the whole village, then we wouldn’t be talking about lack of roads today. When we have sick people, funerals, and other emergencies, this is the only time people talk of how important it is for us to have roads in our villages. All the energetic people are in town, so we cannot make roads in our villages, and those that are at home are busy complaining of how life is frustrating and that there are no jobs. So, what do they do? Drinking alcohol becomes their only way out.

Kenyan Police raid local dens.

Women Empowerment

This was also one reason that I found very interesting. I was informed that with the women empowerment, many men now feel out-of-place in their own homes. Women are now involved in many women groups and therefore, make it easy for them to access money and hence, change of roles. Women are slowly by slowly, becoming the bread winners.  Just like in towns, many women are now part of various merry go rounds, women chamas and sister-sisters. I am informed that many men have problems with women earning more than them, it makes them feel intimidated and that it robs them of their position as the head of the family. So drinking becomes the better option, it gives the men a ballooned ego to be able to maintain authority over their families. (Very shallow way of thinking, I am sorry to say).

Catch up with the rest of the world

Mbale, Taita

I am challenged to go out and find out how many business ideas came into being. I am told many of these were done over a drink. “Patience, at the bars, at the drinking dens, many people are very adventurous and very creative. This is where people think, build castles and think outside the box.” So many men are out drinking, not just a reason to escape from realities, no, many want to know what is happening in the world around them, many want to feel like they belong somewhere. (This is the need to cater for the intimidation encountered at home, because the wife is slowly becoming the head). The political temperature in Kenya is fast rising, left, right, center, Kenyans are discussing politics, so many will be out drinking as a way to catch up with the latest politics and lobby for their favourite aspirants.

Cheap Alcohol

The greeny Taita Land

Imagine for only Ksh. 50, you are able to get half a litter of M’bangara.  Where can you get the same in Nairobi, you can’t. In Nairobi, that is not even enough for fare, from the house and back, so we can’t drink as they will do back at home.” Said Mike. Many of the people in Taita, just need Ksh. 50 to get a drink, and if you are loyal customer, you can get it at 30 shillings. “And there are many ways of getting such little money. Casual jobs, borrowing from friends and relatives, from people like us, who are now going home for Easter, there will be a lot of, “Abaaa nitesie na 50 bob nikwane na wambenyu”, remarked Samson*(Please assist me with 50 bob, so that I can get a chance to catch up with my people.) “Patience, what is 50 bob, you actually give this poor fellow 200 shillings, hoping that he will buy something for his family too, because he is your neighbor at home.

Masherere, Mbale, Taita

Then I ask a question, these are the people who complain that they have no money for their family/ house responsibilities, where does all this money come from on a daily basis?

“Patience, many women don’t believe this, but you can have zero shillings in your pockets and drink for a whole week. Just visit these dens, the level of brotherhood that exists there, its unbelievable.  Men will always buy for each other, so if you don’t have money today, you can be assured that others will buy for you, of course with the expectation that when you have money, you will also buy for others, that’s just how we operate.” Said Mwachofi.

The Sunrise

Now I know, at least I know the factors that make these Kenyan men drink as they do. This means I have to write another blog post on this topic, try to explore some of the effects when this drinking goes overboard. I will also try to highlight some of the channels we can use to restore our lost brothers. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

“You own yourself, so if you want to do something that destroys yourself, go ahead. Just don’t harm others when you do.” Jim Goebel

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25 thoughts on “On Drinking and Taita Men, Part 2!

      1. It’s true Patience what you have wrote we need to do smthing to our community.The chiefs must take immediate action.Us is just to start doing some project which will make them busy and responsible.

  1. This is quite some perspective Patience, the man from Wundanyi, shouldn’t complain about rains. Wundanyi is on the windward side of the hills and gets adequate showers. As for it being a family problem, I think that is spot on. About Women empowerement; why should the men be intimidated, they should complement each others work…

    1. Rev. I believe that one way of tackling problems is to find out where is the root couse, that way, we are able to move to ways in which we can curb the problem. So Taitas have spoken, in my next blog post, I will try and highlight a few ways we can try to resolve alcoholism in Kenya. Thank you for your constant feedback on my blog!

      1. am really impressed with your research, well done! On the problem solving part, i think we need to realise how this habit continues 2 impact the society. In my opinion, the mentioned must show the willingness to change then now we can team up n help in the ability part. It’s not too late 2 get started but first are willing 2 change? Thanks patience, n i will send my views on the solving part.

      2. Hey Julius Maganga, thank you for your positive feedback. I like it when you question, are they willing to change? Many of the Taitas I talked to mentioned unemployment as the root course as to why they frequent these local dens over and over, so if we created more jobs in Taita, guess they will get something to occupy their minds. I am looking forward to reading your suggestion on this. Thank you for reading my blog post.

  2. Patience quite gud research done bt how many brothers we claim we want to assist access this information? I blive most of pple i being part of the complex many and a proud taita can access this and blive me most taita men in facebook are quite responsible.I tink we sld jst get a way of reaching these pple again love to the them and pausing examples is what wil help them most.

    1. Wilfred Mjomba, thank you for your feedback. My thinking is, once we have a dialogue concerning this with people like you, we are able to come up with suggestions on how to help our brothers back at home. Your suggestions and my suggestions is what will give us a wayford if at all we are to curb alcoholism in Taita.This is my thinking, what do you think?

  3. Kudos Patience!Whether we like it or not men in Taita and I mention Taita because I come from there have a drinking problem.It’s such a major problem at my place to an extent that women are the ones who look for casual jobs to fend for the family while a man will wake up in the morning and head to those drniking dens!
    And worst of all Taita’s brag that drinking is a habit passed on from our greatgrandfathers, what they are not seeing is that its ruining lives!

    1. Chanya, Thank you. The more we tend to defend ourselves as far as this drinking of M’bangara is concerned, the longer we will take to eradicate it. I know it can be very annoying to hear Taita’s brag that drinking is a habit passed on from our greatgrandfathers. In our small ways, I am sure we can help in one way or another. Thank you for reading my blog.

  4. Am mwash 4rm choke, i am xo impressed by ur article on the reasons why there is excesive consumption of alcohol in wundanyi. Interestingly i happened 2 carry out the same study 4 my thesis on january this year and i am yet 2 produce a publication on the sem. As 4 me patience i think we shuldnt blame these pple as such,the major problem is that they have the ideas bt no one is there 2 help implement them, since u guys have realised the problem we ‘Elites’ who normaly run away 2 towns lets go meet these pple discuss issues with them and come up with proposals 2 source funds 4 implementing the projects hence create employment 4 them, as 4 me am sorry 2 say that i didnt lyk ur statement wen u said that u guys cant drive up2 home since there ar no roads en u go ahead teling them 2 volunteer thats nt helping the pple infact ur statement is nt polite. I feel 4 these pple thats wy i want them 2 b asisted.

    1. Mwashighadi Jimmyson, Thank you for your feedback and that we are thinking in the same line. This is the reason I asked people to give me ideas on how we can help our folks back at home. I am of the thought that Taita has so much potential and there is so much we can get out of Taita. When I talked of the roads, my thinking is, its not for the people who have cars to think of establishing the roads, let those that are at the village, understand the importance of having roads for their own benefit. You get my point. Why do we have to keep hustling for pathway when we have people who are at home who can assist us get roads? This is one way to occupy their minds, since many blame unemployment for their addiction to illicit brew. I think we can do this together!

  5. Instead of painting them black why dont you tell us what is white about them like the men’s multiple roles range from gatekeepers, to community leaders, to husbands/partners, to policymakers and program directors, to owners of means of production and land. Each of these specific roles requires more understanding of men’s gendered attitudes and realities. At the same time, we must acknowledge those men who already are supportive and show gender-equitable attitudes and behaviors – men who can and already are acting as change agents. An assessment of men’s reactions and attitudes about women’s empowerment must include an analysis of different categories of men, rather than assuming and presenting men as a monolithic group. Those men who already show support for women’s equality and empowerment can and should be engaged as change agents to reach other men.The need to acknowledge that some specific groups of men are vulnerable and that given cares goal of empowering the most vulnerable, in some settings should continue to be beneficiaries of Vilage Loans programs.and not juts the women
    Again!!!you have vilifyed them enuff pliz say something else this bickering about is not helping much coz sometime’s I sense its a errand given too much of your energy and attention and yeti.e lets be proactive serves us better

  6. Well researched piece Pesho…you should send this to our local daillies…same factors apply to all othe region of Kenya…drinking is a national wide problem, infact its a hobby, a past time activity, a way to bond with peers, an excuse to be out there with friends, an escape from domestic and national politics.

    I think brew is brew whether cheap or expensive it still is brew. Unless we are imagining that poor people have no right to drink. I blame it all on Kenya Breweries Limited. The cheapest beer will go for Ksh120 and in some bars its Kh150!!! This is enough drink in the village for you and your friends to go home staggering. I challenge KBL to look into brewing cheap and safer drinks for the rural market or retail the same beers at rural friendly prices.

    There is need for the government ‘iingilie kati’ for the rural fork. The ministry of sports together with other corporates should support local sporting teams and social recreational centres. There’s needs to establish employment bureux for the youth. ‘Kazi kwa vijana’ should be accessible to all youth on daily basis. This way all rural fork can afford safer brews and food for their families. I am sure women are not against their husbands drinking as long us they are performing in bed and meeting their financial obligations at home.

  7. Ms Patience, i do believe that you want good for the county where you hail from on that i support ur efforts however i have a problem on how you look at some issues,…how you relate the issues of not scoring above 400 marks in kcpe en the drinking of men,,i want to assume poor academic excellence wasn’t because of the brew until some research proves otherwise, the aspect of nation building or taita for that matter does not rest with men alone at least not in this era, still the blame game,the extent of excessive consumption is not defined en to what extent does it hinder productivity. having said that i do admit that some of our brothers en sisters are in excessive partaking of the liqueur which needs to be addresd for their en families sake.

  8. Thanks for the Highlights, i was at home (mbale)also for Easter and i observed that there are more bars than general shop and more churches are mushrooming ;does it mean rthat everybody is trying to escape from harsh realities of life( because some philosophers say that religion is opium of the poor)

  9. Though your story and views are not 100% accurate but kudo’s for at least doing something. we all agree drinking is not bad but just like any other thing it should not control your life, you’ve given various reasons for drinking and i can assure you most of them are not true. People drink during free time unless they have a problem, not to forget that meeting for a drink has got it’s own various advantages which i don’t need to mention since we all know them unless we are coming from planet pluto. From the fact that people drink during free time and since guys in taita have got alot of free time then they drink most of the time. just like the chamas have had positive effects on Taita women the same should be introduced for men. we only need to swallow our pride go back to the village and teach the Men there the concept of Chama’s if most men don’t leave M’bagara then i will pay a penalty to you guyz.

  10. Your story has a lot of interesting findings, Patience. I think it is true that you can’t pinpoint single reasons for the challenges of alcohol abuse among the wataita (and that goes for all ethnic groups, I believe). So if someone wants to initiate projects to help this situation, they need to have a broad perspective on what are the causes.
    Thanks also for the beautiful pictures from your home area. Having lived in Voi, it was especially thrilling to see these pictures!
    Hope to see you in July/August, when I take my family back for a visit!

    1. Hei Eivind. Very good to read from you. I am good and I am looking forward to seeing you when you bring your family to Kenya. Thank you for reading my blog and leaving your comment hear. I am writing the third part of this blog post, so be sure to find it here. I do agree with you that if we need to initiate projects to help this drinking situation, then we need to have a broad perspective on what are the causes. These are just some of them. I hope that you will find time to read my next post and probably share your views, now that you know this place quite well. Pass my regards to everyone in Kristiansand!

  11. Mwai wamzedu wa mbale, wele kokunda kudibwagha!!!! Mwanaaaaa….Part 1, Part 2….Fuya wughoma weke awongo

  12. all you have said my sister but you forget that the leadership of taita is the worst of it and it does affect our county in terms of development and that’s why you find some men going to drink as early as in the morning because they have no activities, the leaders they chose don’t represent them especially in the parliament, you’ll find one comes searching for votes once you give them they forget about you all they do is swell their tummies, infact if you go to Ghazi you’ll wonder if we have leaders from that place, roads are poor up to the door step of an mp, what a shame, to eradicate drinking in taita as a county we need leaders with brain and not with money, leader’s with vision who can put their vision into action like our brother #Samboja, we need to educate our children on the harmful effect of alcohol, also the education of a boy child should be taken seriously, its only girls who are being educated with cdf money while boys are left to graze livestock, so how do you expect these boys to be breadwinner s if they have been denied their rights to higher education, just get look at the dry areas of taita you’ll find that boys forced drop out of schools to take part in providing families needs while the girl child is taking her education, surely where are we heading to as taita community?

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