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.
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.
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.
Here are some suggestions on how we can curb it.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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~