Alcohol abuse in Kenya has undeniably become a national catastrophe. The drinking culture is so widespread and the class of drinking Kenyans is expanding at a very alarming rate. The availability of cheap, home-made liquor is arguably the main cause of this moral decadence.
The alcohol industry is so robust. Kenya’s parliament passed the Mututho law to regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol but it has done little to stem off the menace. The situation is even made dire by the ineffectiveness of the officials who collude with owners and even own some of the illegal alcohol businesses in the country.
The Kenyan youth are drinking themselves into oblivion. Walking down the road on a given weekend, you will find men strewn on the sidewalks apparently asleep in drunken stupor. Others are barely able to stand on their two feet and look like zombies.
Kenya IS a ‘drunken’ nation. The brews are unfortunately affecting people from poor backgrounds than those from the more affluent societies. People from poverty ravaged rural and slum areas are the casualties. To a majority of them, drinking is some form of an identity. Drinking is meant to give them satisfaction. This concern cannot be entirely wished away because this has become one of the main impediments to productivity in the society.
Alcohol abuse is unquestionably the country’s major social problem. The issue needs to be addressed with the urgency and seriousness it deserves. Those in relevant authorities with the society at large need to quickly find a fix to this social malady. The focus should be more on the root causes rather than punishment of the offenders. Otherwise if not well handled we will continue seeing intoxicated people every day in our midst and an unproductive society.
Just to give it a proper perspective, alcohol consumption in the right quantities and at the right moments is not bad. We should therefore not demonize alcohol users who drink decently and are productive to the society.
The President recently issued a directive to government officials and local leadership to raid premises for illicit brews and take action against those in contravention of the law. However, looters have decided to make a field day out of it and are destroying and looting legit businesses. This will do little to curb the vice. Proper legislation together with addressing social and economic problems will go a long way in solving this issue.
By Brian Yahya