On Drinking and Taita Men..Final Part!

With all respect that I have for Taita men and Kenyan men at large, I have no choice but write the third part of my story. Thank you for all the feedback I have received following my blog posts. I realize that alcoholism and drinking of illicit brews is an issue close to Kenyans’ hearts.

Women as bread winners

“I come from Taita, whether we like it or not Taitas 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 families while a man will wake up in the morning and head to those drinking dens!
And worst of all Taita men brag that drinking is a habit passed on from our great grandfathers; they don’t see that this is ruining their lives! Commented Josphine Chanya.

Kenyans sipping local brew

My thinking this far is, we are in denial. We are in denial as Taitas and we are in denial as Kenyans. We do not want to accept that we have a problem and the longer we continue bickering, the longer we will take to achieve any progress in solving this problem.

Once we accept there is a problem, this is the day we will create avenues to correct it. As for me, Patience Nyange, I acknowledge that there is a problem in Taita, it might not be a time bomb, but yes we have to tackle it. The only advantage Taita men have is that, Taita women are decent, we are not violent, but if we were, then we would have had similar stories like those from the Central part of Kenya. Men in those areas, Nyeri to be precise, have suffered under the bitter hands of frustrated women. In Taita, women converge and pray for their husbands. (Shetani Ashindwe!)

Alcoholism is rampant in many countries and has adverse effects, not just in Kenya but the world all over. Many women in Taita continue to complain on how difficult it is for them to live with drunkard husbands and men who have neglected their family responsibilities. “It has not been easy, but I am trusting God for a miracle. He comes home everyday after 2am, drunk and very violent.” Remarked a Taita woman.

Choke, Mbale

Lack of father-figures

A quick look at issues at hand, let’s face it. Some of the children in Taita lack father figures. These fathers are never home when their children return from school and they have no time to even follow their school progress. There has been a reverse shift in family roles, women through women empowerment are slowly by slowly becoming the bread winners and some are solely in charge of their families.

When these men come home at night very drunk staggering their way home, they are not able to cater for their wives conjugal rights. I am told this is not a big issue in Taita. “We should be happy we still have kids being sired by these drunkard Taita men, in other parts, women cannot get their conjugal rights and getting a child had become mission impossible.” Remarked Mwawasi.

Alcoholism impairs rational judgement.  Judgement in all aspects of life and there is a need to deal with it. The responsibility to change Taita lies in our hands. We might not do it overnight, but where there is a will, there is a way.

The Hilly Taita Land

Here are some suggestions on how we can curb it.

Civic Education

Leaders in all areas, be it in church, in the villages, in chamas, in schools have a responsibility to educate the locals concerning the demerits of excessive drinking and the adverse effects it has on their immediate families and the community at large. The many corporate campaigns in the city centers concerning responsible drinking should be extended to the rural areas as well. Let’s deal with it and make it our responsibility before it goes out of hand. “I was at home (Mbale) for Easter and I observed that there are more bars than there are general shops and I also noticed that more churches are mushrooming. Does it mean that everybody is trying to escape from harsh realities of life, (because some philosophers say that religion is an opium of the poor), commented Mwamburi.

Kenyan Police raid local dens.

It is campaign period, political mood is fast rising, as we talk about our political manifestos, lets talk about developing one another and lets create avenues of engaging our voters, telling them the truth that this drinking disease is silently killing Kenyans.

Making Investments back at home

Let’s face it, as young people we are all saturated in the city centers. We have huge investments, businesses and many other worthy courses we are engaged in, in towns. How many of us have investments back at home? (Hands down.) When I ask my friends about doing the same, their response has always been, “What is there to be done in Taita, Patience?” With this kind of mentality, we will not initiate any projects back at home, and therefore, Taitas will have no jobs and this idleness is what keeps them going for illicit brews. Let’s come together and challenge ourselves and think outside the box and see what projects we can do back at home. I am personally open for ideas.

Willingness to Change

The Greeny Taita land

Let’s agree as Taita’s we have great potential to be the change agents. There are Taita’s who are top cream decision makers, holding some of the top offices in Kenya and even abroad. But what does it mean when we gain all these and we cannot translate it to benefit our communities? As we try to help our people back at home, the first task will be to try to engage our tribesmen to see their willingness to change. Why we are so defensive about this drinking, why are we in denial about its existence? “On the problem solving part I think we need to realize how this habit continues to impact on our society. In my opinion, the mentioned must show the willingness to change then we can now help in the ability part. It is not too late, but they must be willing to change.” Commented Julius Maghanga.

Recreational Activities

Boys playing football at Mbale

Football is one great game that is greatly played to ensure that the young turks make use of their time wisely. Why can’t we organize football for the older men, you know, it is possible.  Imagine our fathers playing football and the whole family is cheering. By the end of the day, they are tired, all they want to do is go back home and relax. This means they will not go to the drinking dens and instead, they will get time to bond with their families. “Same factors apply to all other regions of Kenya. Drinking is a national wide problem, in fact it’s 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.  There is a need for the government to help the rural forks. I am sure women are not against their husbands drinking as long as they are performing in bed and meeting their financial obligations at home,” commented Oliver Ommoto.

Mbale residents taking a walk

Counseling and rehabilitation

One of my friends commented, “ As much as we drink as Taitas , religion and God is always part of us. You will find us going home, staggering and singing a Gospel song, preferably Rose Muhandos – Nibebe. Very rarely will you find drunk Taitas singing ” Manyake, all sizes, juala ndio wahitaji” I laughed. So if this is the case, this is a very good starting point. Let’s try and bring our addicted fathers, brothers and uncles to church, and introduce them to people who can give them counseling and if need be, take them for rehabilitation. Some of these are great addicts and they need help. Just like many drunkards never admit that they are drunk, some of these addicts will never accept they have a problem, but we can help them.

Anti -illicit brew campaigns

Ngilinyi, Mbale

I am ready to try to make this happen. I am willing to put my brain into use and see if as Kenyans we can do intensive campaigns against the use of these illicit brews especially in our rural areas. This is a huge problem experienced in almost all parts of Kenya. Civic education based on this will ensure a reduction if not a stop on these brews.

I am quite optimistic that we can do something, not just in Taita but in Kenya as a whole. This is my 2 cent, kindly let me know if you have more suggestions or even let me know if your community had the same problem and how did you manage to sort it out?

Readjusting is a painful process, but most of us need it at one time or another.~Arthur Christopher Benson~


19 thoughts on “On Drinking and Taita Men..Final Part!

  1. Yours Patience, is a crusade. My take: you are plucking all the right cords on this. I like the suggestions on investments and sports. I think you should begin to liaise with churches and local administration on the need for behavior change. Yes, it’s your 2 cents contribution but it could be all that is needed to roar the engine…

    found the case of the drunkard singing Muhando’s “Nibebe” very amusing: this character could be pleading for help; someone to carry him home, and not worship/praising God…

  2. Rev. Olive Branch, thank you for your feedback. Yes, believe we can do something together if we put our heads together. I will do what I can. Thank you for your support.

  3. Thank you Patience for your research but i suggest you take this campaign offline because most of those affected are neither on facebook nor on twitter..if we want real impact and change we should focus on youth by mentoring them for prosperity and posterity at the grassroot;may be you should encourage more people to join Undugu initiative

    1. Mwamburi, thank you for your feedback. This is my point, the people I am targeting to help me focus this campaign are people like you, people who are online. This is my reason to bring this discussion here and together, lets see what we can do. Do you have any investments in Taita. ever wanted to do any?

  4. What we did not understand properly about this article-was this research about Taita based only on Mbale region as a case study to represent the whole region? Frankly speaking I find that the research done in writing this article was not adequate enough to make any comprehensive conclusions concerning the issue in question.

  5. Bonifus, thank you for your feedback. Next time use “I ” and not “WE”. I am imagining it is just you who does not understand this. When the story about Taita Men and their addiction to illicit brews came on CITIZEN TV, it showed men in Werugha. The people I have interviewed and the people whose comments I have used here, are from different parts of Taita and Kenya at large. I might have not brought out all the issues and that’s why I use the words, here are SOME reasons, SOME suggestions, SOME findings. Kindly feel free to add where you feel there is something missing. Thank you!

  6. Comment from FK-World by Bwire Patrick

    Patience, this is not only real but a very interesting piece to read. True we have to face the reality if we are to control drunkardness. I is deeply ruining our families. I have been in many rural parts of Kenya, and I have also analyzed that drunkardness is mainly a symptom of chronic poverty.

    Secondly, the issue of Anti alcoholism campaign is ok but need to be handled sensitively, otherwise even women may criticize your efforts since it is their main source of income

    Sensitization to transform the attitudes of the people and dangers of drinking is a very positive idea

    I have alot of trust in God and hearing that Drunkard men can stagger home singing Yezu Nibebe, tells me this is their best strength on which we can build.
    Posted: 19 m ago By: Bwire Patrick

  7. Patience, the topic you have discussed is one that will do more than raise eyebrows. While i may agree with some points and refute others, i admit you have done well.

    However, the root to the problem is not adressed. Taita’s, I included have problems that go way deeper than alcoholism and the biggest one we face is denial.

    We do not one to admit we have drinking problems among the men, prostituting habits among our women and superstition issues that affect all generations. We hide behind the church and salvation but God knows we need HELP. why is Voi- just an example, one of the oldest towns in East Africa still lagging behind in development? We would like to blame politicians but we are the reason for that and much more

    We would like the world to think of us as beautiful hardworking and innocent people yet within ourselves we have bitterness, envy and gossip. Mwamburi has said this might not be the venue but i disagree… it is one and we should every venue posible.

    Lets talk Taita, lets talk us and lets solve us

    1. Hey Morris.

      Thank you for your feedback. I totally agree with you that one main problem is being in denial. The longer we take being in this denial, the longer we will take in solving this problem. I am being positive that something can be done. Lets put our efforts together. as you say…..Lets talk Taita, lets talk us and lets solve us!!

      Thank you Morris!

  8. Nice blog, you hit the nail on the head in regarding, problems of the Kenyan drinking culture.
    I know a certain Taita family who are are one of the most educated and respected from the Kenyatta era and to date, buried their brother who had died of alcohol poisoning. The irony is that at his funeral, before and after the service, they were all drunk, the entire family members (from teens to oldest granny), “in the name of celebrating his life!” -our actions and behaviors affect all around us, it is our job to teach our children not to repeat our mistakes.

    Leadership/Good parenting is setting a good example and it starts with you!

    I am alcohol and substance abuse free for 4 years now, i feel sorry for those who get trapped by it and i have been there before, but all you can do is to show love, pray and warn them of the consequences. It’s only Jesus who saved me!

    the spiritual condition of a person is also connected to his physical being.
    1 Corinthians 6:19

    if i remember well 40% of our genetic traits are inherited from our parents but 60% is determined by our environment, diet and lifestyle.

    check these links

    Good day and God bless you!

    1. Hey

      Thank you for your reflective feedback. This is a very wise feedback for someone who wants to change. I hope it will serve as an advice and that many people will follow your example. Thank you so so much for finding time to read my blog and leave your comment. I appreciate your feedback.

  9. Correction :60% of your personality is inherited from your parents and 40% comes from the environment.

  10. The 3 piece series has bn an insightful perspective into lives of rural taitans.whenever i pas voi or wundanyi, i see pple, hawkers, full of effort, tryng to earn a do or die genuine income.patience, alcohol is not cause of poverty, its the end result effect of poverty.the problem is thus bigger than average taitan can solve.alot is generated in tourism from the county, bt little goes back. Bt ua friend who asked- whats there to be done in taita was way offmark.without investment there is no development.with county govment, taita taveta wil get atleast ksh 3 bil. Money which wil circulate in county per yr.fo those with investment back home, it wil be time to harvest.for others like ua friend it wil be wake up time.the best local solution is taitans in “diaspora” investing back home to create jobs for their cousins. Patience, if they dont do this, who will?

  11. Patience, I like your passion and zeal to addressing alcoholism in our community, and I bet implicitly to out nation. The fact is that excessive use of alcohol has lately been in the global arena as a risk factor for especially non-communicable diseases -which without a doubt are on the rise and claiming many lives including in our beloved homeland taita. World Health Organisation has this to say and I quote “The harmful use of alcohol is a serious health burden, and it affects virtually all individuals on an international scale. Health problems from dangerous alcohol use arise in the form of acute and chronic conditions, and adverse social consequences are common when they are associated with alcohol consumption. Every year, the harmful use of alcohol kills 2.5 million people, including 320 000 young people between 15 and 29 years of age. It is the third leading risk factor for poor health globally…” If this is what is highlighted in the international scale which is about avarages, just imagine the scenario of a well known area with the problem! its a bizzare. I will take some time and share my views on possible solutions. It is a problem quite close to me and my heart aches whenever I think about this reality.

    Kudos Pesh!

  12. Taita men are ”lucky” on two counts:

    1. Our women are polite (as you’ve already pointed out) and [almost too] humble. Otherwise, the husband-bashing stories we would hear from there would put Nyeri to shame.
    2. The region does not attract much press coverage, so the alcoholism problem is not brought to so much light.

    But the alcoholism situation is bad, all across the county. It’s very humiliating when you go back home only to have scores of your ex-schoolmates (who had very promising potential) pestering you for fifty bob for a ”kiriba” of ”mbangara”.

    Sadly, we have exported these drinking habits to Mombasa. When police raid a ”mnazi” den for example, 50% or more of those nabbed are likely to be Taitas.

    Civic education and the involvement of the church may help a bit. But the best solution is to empower the upcoming younger generation, give them education, increase opportunities for them, etc. Samaki mkunje angali mbichi. If the older generation is beyond repair, at least we can have a fresh start.

    Which is why I laud efforts like those of Wadawida education fund: (http://www.wadawidaeducationfund.com).

  13. I do agree with yu,even school boys are alcoholics all in the name of culture &manhood.Patience you should adress education in the coastal region to and how our leaders are reluctant with it.Thankyu.

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