The last few days have been interesting. The president said, “Jump!” and Kenyans were all willing to ask “How high?” And jump they did. In fact, they hoped, stepped and jumped from depot to depot, leaving in their wake rivers of alcohol flowing behind them and mountains of broken bottles and destroyed beer barrels. As they say, this time, it was no joke!
Watching the action in various counties reminded me of my days at the university, Fridays were anticipated with as much excitement and enthusiasm as they are today. And the fun would start way before the allowed time; but who cared? This was Friday! Those of us who were not involved in any reveling watched and listened from a distance as the drunken comrades made their way back into the hostels in the wee hours of the morning. Some barely made it to their hostels. I once found one comfortably snoring in the senior ladies’ hostels – on the stairs!
But the real image of just what transpired the previous night would be clearly painted on Saturday morning. The ‘Academic Highway’ would be littered with broken bottles of all shapes, sizes and color. It looked like the intoxicated comrades wouldn’t be done until they broke the bottles. As we cautiously stepped over the broken bottles on our way to the morning prayers, I could not help but think: For every broken bottle, that was a broken life!
And I saw and witnessed lives get broken by the bottle every waking day. One man comes to mind. Since he hasn’t allowed me to share his story, I will call him Mike – everyone knows a person called Mike, right? Mike* had been invited to study engineering, but he couldn’t hack it. So after a year, he changed courses to Sociology. I do not remember a day I saw Mike* sober! He used to be drunk morning, noon and night. He was always reeking of alcohol. Always.
Needless to say, Mike* never sat his exams. I doubt he even used to know when the exams were due! A couple of years later, his drunken mind advised him to gang up with a few comrades to plan a strike. His brilliant proposal was that we go and raze the administration block! We were all sent home for months, while Mike was sent home for good. I have no idea what became of him, but every time I saw a broken bottle on ‘Academic Highway’, I couldn’t help but think about him!
I have watched with keen interest as the operation went on with anger and jubilation in equal measure. Women were especially happy to break the bottle and pour the beer. Everyone was expected to be involved in the ‘operation’ and failure to show up or showing up late with even a hint of reduced sobriety wasn’t taken lightly. Ask the now jobless chief from Muranga!
While I do not condone the destruction of property, I still think the people need to come to that point when they say we have had enough! People dying after imbibing illicit liquor is no longer a cause for sympathy and sorrow, it is outright annoying! Maybe the anger should be expressed at the drinkers who half-soberly explain how they drunk themselves to blindness and how lucky they feel to have cheated death.
But death might be smarter than they think especially if they keep playing the I-cheated-you-again game. Remember the man who died in last year’s illicit liquor tragedy? He had been previously hospitalized after almost going blind after drinking some lethal stuff. This time he lost. Ethanol won. I sure wish we had broken those bottles earlier!
And mothers are not planning to have any more wishes made too late. In the day and age when we have vodkas named Rest in Peace, I say let the beer flow; this time not into people’s bellies but down the drain. Let us break the bottles before they break any more lives! The only responsible drinking is not drinking at all!