By John Mututho, former chairman of National Authority for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse, Nairobi, March 19, 2018
A few weeks ago we laid to rest a very talented professional from Mombasa with the first severe case of Brain Atrophy (shrinkage of the brain). I saw first-hand how alcohol had eroded his brains to a point that his brain had become too little to function. Alcohol affects the brain mass and its crucial functionalities
Many people across the Globe often ask why I am so passionate when it comes to eradicating illicit liquor, second generation brews and here I am to give you a tiny glimpse as to why… among many other concrete reasons.
First and foremost, I am provoked to act by the fact that Alcoholism has already claimed over 50,000 lives in Central Kenya and Kiambu County would be a great start, to rescue us from the real threat and potential danger of possible extinction. It is with utmost dedication the entire County Government of Kiambu , the Governor H.E. Ferdinand Waititu and I, have planned to execute different roles towards eradicating the Illicit Alcohol industry in Kiambu County to the letter.
Economics of alcoholism in Kiambu:
Governor Waititu’s plan will roll out in 3 phases which entails Supply Suppression, followed by a thorough assessment of the damage caused. We will be concurrently running that, with the second phase which is Treatment and Rehabilitation. Our main focus will be on Addicts immersed in Alcohol and Substance Abuse, followed by former alcohol and drug addicts embarking on the third and last phase of very effective empowerment.
The Empowerment Programme entails armouring all the latter with effective skills, based on their talents and hobbies before fully reintegrating them into society already equipped to enrich themselves and to build the economy of the larger Kiambu County.
As a matter of fact, I wish to respectfully let you know that I subscribe to the school that looks at Kiambu with utmost admiration following its rich history of birthing very brainy people.
Whereas some regions may boast of leading in the field of Academia, Kiambu is unrivalled with the highest concentration of business intellectuals who match up with the famous Ibo of Nigeria and the Israeli Nationals because of skilled entrepreneurship.
Simply, the stereotyping of the Agikuyu Community is just but a myopic explanation of a hardworking people. Somewhere within the Agikuyu history, we hear of a rich heritage of vibrant entrepreneurship among great elderly women who ferried merchandise on their backs from their locales to Marigiti on a daily basis.
Sometimes haters make demeaning remarks how majority of us are into the hawking business but hey…, isn’t hawking one of the most successful Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and a reserve for the very best and most enlightened business people? Aren’t they excellent in Sales and Marketing? We are also known for trading in Mitumba (second-hand) be it clothes, utensils, furniture, household appliances, vehicles et al when we are not dealing with the brand new imports from China, Turkey, United Kingdom, Dubai, Uganda or elsewhere. Basically, we are always ready to make a coin wherever we set our foot and flood that market with what is needed.
Undoubtedly, Kiambu is also the heart of Gikuyuland and all the Agikuyu born and bred in other regions, look up to the great people of Kiambu, as the lords in the hierarchy of Kikiyudom. We, view them as the superior lot in all of Kikuyuland, the more reason to ensure that the great people of Kiambu NEVER again become the laughing stock as they are the gene-pool of the one of the greatest people of this region. The Agikuyu gene must retain its purity and must remain unadulterated by poisoning masses to death by alcohol while also diminishing their ability to multiply.
On the other hand, we understand that the investors in the alcohol industry in Kiambu, pay taxes and licences to a tune of Kshs.8 Billion per annum. On the basis of economics of alcoholism, I draw my assessment against the Four Principles of Agriculture namely Land, Labour, Capital and Entrepreneurship. This simply means that for one to run a successful and profitable economic system, there is need for certain things and a specific economic input, as they all are factors of production.
Alcoholism destroys that in its entirety because, it destroys and sucks life out of Labour, Capital, Entrepreneurship as well as Land (which explains why the agricultural potential in Kiambu is under-utilized). We may blame the weather, global warming, seed companies, the County and National governments and so forth….but without the four Principles aforementioned Agriculture or other ventures cannot thrive. A society fully immersed in Alcoholism like Kiambu hardly utilizes its potential.
I sigh as the protagonists of the alcohol industry in Kiambu boast of being the largest employer claiming to benefit thousands of people. I would have no problem whatsoever, if this service industry was well structured, contrary to what is ongoing in that fiery furnace in the name of pubs, wines and spirits or other alcohol outlets.
The industry may be paying a lump sum of taxes and levies to a tune of Kshs.8 Billion but pause for a second…. Although 8 Billion may sound like a lot of money, in essence it is not. Honestly, it does not exactly reflect the total amount of revenue, because the lion’s share is lost through the rampant tax evasions.
At best, an entrepreneur spends only about 3 to 5% on licenses. With this precinct, the people of Kiambu are vastly financially endowed and leisurely make a whooping Kshs.160 Billion on alcohol alone. Compare that to the National Government’s allocation to the County which is Kshs.12 Billion (sounds like peanuts now…right?)
Even with such wealth, the reckless Alcohol and Substance Abuse Vice in Kiambu, has successfully eroded the full potential it oozes. We should bear in mind that a sizeable number of people in Kiambu are well endowed with massive resources except for some, who are not as financially muscled. With that in mind, it is a fact that a reveller partaking alcohol in Kiambu, spends between Kshs.100-Kshs.40,000 on a drinking spree depending on their net worth and lifestyle.
For simplicity, let us work with an average of the 35% of the entire population which translates to 700,000 people (who openly admitted to drinking alcohol on a daily basis). Let us work with an average of each person spending Kshs.500 on a drinking spree. That means, on a given day a whooping Kshs.350 Million is wasted on alcohol in Kiambu.
While at it, may I remind and comfort you that the conservative figure of Kiambu’s population is at 2 Million (based on the last voter registration). Unbelievably, past surveys suggested that a whole 50% of the population namely adults, young adults and teenagers admitted to drinking alcohol.
In another research, among the residents, an estimated 35% comprised of self-proclaimed staunch believers, under-aged children and the elderly. A hefty 50% admit to be habitual partakers of alcohol though. The remaining 65% of the other population,are individuals we would consider as being of a prime productive age. This means we have an unmistakable 30% of a daily drinking populace.
And again, from the very basic human physiology, the liver has merely 500 functions and as we are all aware, digestion and absorption starts right from the mouth. Absorption of alcohol starts from the Oral Mucosa through the throat and 85% of it is fully absorbed directly to the blood stream. Once alcohol is in the bloodstream, the molecules attach themselves to water a component of the blood at 90%.
This means that the alcohol is carried to wherever the blood goes throughout the body which again is 70% water. Biologically, a healthy adult who weighs about 70kgs has a full blood circulation of blood through the entire body once in 30Seconds. Within no time the alcohol newly absorbed reaches every part of the body be it the brain, heart, hands e.t.c and sadly to the foetus for pregnant women. As a result, the liver goes into panic mode and shuts down all functions for a whole hour whenever a human being ingests one bottle of beer or a glass of whiskey. Just know two bottles of alcohol equate to two hours of alcohol, three for three…..and so forth.
Further we are privy to the fact that alcohol is listed as the most dangerous drug among a cluster of twenty as shown in this report published by the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, Nov 5, 2010 for the World Health Organization.
The above link explains the cumulative harm of alcohol thus its highest ranking compared to all other drugs surpassing Crack cocaine, Heroin and Marijuana.
My heart bleeds whenever I see young men and women sinking deep into unproductivity due to alcoholism and other substance abuse. At birth, a human is born with 100,000 Billion neurons in the brain, but are systematically destroyed in thousands by other factors such as age and more vigorously by alcohol.
Metabolically, neurons in the brain are very expensive to maintain because there’s great need to maintain various inputs such as receiving and sending signals to other neurons. In simple words the brain needs to stay useful to protect it from getting culled. Of course the ‘use it or lose it’ slogan applies here.
When alcohol gets in the bloodstream, 90% of it is metabolized and the liver sends out by-products of alcohol. I like to look at it as a chemical factory that gets surprise orders which suddenly disrupt and wreck the smooth running of the factory. When that happens, it becomes a dysfunctional factory, with sirens up to get rid of the poison. The liver can only handle a certain amount of strain thus, thereafter becoming exhausted and ends up enlarged or inflamed spelling big trouble that is Cirrhosis, often fatal.
Before the chemical factory fully shuts its operations, even worse, it yields Ketones which are a by-product bringing about a condition called Ketosis whereby the body does not have enough glucose for energy and thus burns up all the stored fats leading to a build-up of the acids called Ketones.
Without prejudice a few weeks ago we laid to rest a very talented professional from Mombasa with the first severe case of Brain Atrophy (shrinkage of the brain). I saw first-hand how alcohol had eroded his brains to a point that his brain had become too little to function. Alcohol affects the brain mass and its crucial functionalities.
Here are a few images of brain damage:
Alcoholic ketoacidosis can also occur with acute alcohol intoxication, often following a binge for alcoholics with chronic and acute pancreatic or liver disorders.
When intoxication is the order of the day, the user suffers dementia which may worsen with time. It actually graduates to symptoms similar to someone with the Alzhemier’s Disease. Water retention in the brain becomes very evident as shown here.
Meanwhile, Kenya boasts of a large percentage of the population being believers of our different faiths. This time I will cite the Christian and Islamic approach to Alcoholism. The Bible strongly condemns use of alcoholic drinks that all the other vices including blasphemy, because it has given a warning against drinking 75 times (www.75warnings.com) while the Holy Quran has given 17 warnings pertaining to the same. Both the Bible and Quran stress and take an uncompromising stand towards alcohol and forbids its consumption in either small or large quantities both citing alcohol impairs judgment and lowers inhibition.
If one truly believes in the supremacy of God, the Bible and Quran rule out alcohol and alcoholism citing it interferes with teachings of faith. The belief is that the Bible and Quran reflect real events that affect our spirituality and for us to have a fruitful coexistence with the Supreme and others, we have no reason to not heed the 75 warnings against alcoholism in the Bible and the 17 in the Quran. https://www.scionofzion.com/drinking.htm
Some find consolation and may argue that in the same good book Jesus turned water into wine during the first miracle at Cana of Galilee in John 2:1-11. Our good Lord is believed to have quenched masses with the best of its kind because they described it as “good wine than what we had before”.
It would shock you if I ignored the scriptures I Timothy 5:23 where Paul says “…a little wine is good for the stomach” but actually Paul was advising Timothy to take a little wine for medicinal purposes about his stomach ailment.
The Bible teaches absolute abstinence of alcohol and uses the term wine contextually. Both the Hebrew word for wine “Yayin” or “Sobe- yayin” mean either fermented/unfermented grape juice and defined as a non-intoxicating beverage. In Greek,”Tirosh” is defined same as “Shekar” or “Sikera” and defined as wine that intoxicates or strong wine. Those terms are vividly clear when synonymous to unfermented grape juice and equally spell out when exposing the evils of partaking the strong intoxicating wine.
I have analyzed all the 75 warnings contained in the bible and concluded that obviously our Creator, God expects a continuous fellowship with us (otherwise how would heed his call to pray without ceasing while having a blackout or nursing a hangover?). Intoxication is a detractor because it comes with its own challenges and definitely interferes with the sole purpose of mankind through fellowship with God, by Glorifying Him as our Creator, in relationship and faithful service to Him.
On a lighter note, humanly speaking those wedding guests at Cana of Galilee must have been served the wine which is synonymous with unfermented grape juice because as a matter of fact, it would have been impossible to give a mammoth crowd alcohol, without a single one going on record for being unruly. I know without a doubt none of the said wedding guests, at Cana of Galilee became unruly and got locked up, or lost their eyes and none died at the celebration contrary to what has happened here before in our beloved Kiambu.
In Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost when occupants in the upper-room began to speak in tongues when the Holy Spirit gave them a new utterance, people came from far and wide to witness what had happened. While they watched in awe, someone lamented that they were drunken but Peter in Verse 15 responded by asking “Who would be drunk by the third hour?” There is also another scripture (I Samuel 1:9) on Hannah who was deemed inappropriate for being “intoxicated in the morning” when she was crushed in soul, praying for a child while crying inconsolably.
Sadly, all that happened far away from Kenya whereas here a strong majority strive to be inebriated within the first hour of the day, hence the regulatory “Mututho Laws”.
Let me expound on why it would be more favourable to drink alcohol between 5PM and 11PM than any other time. Alcohol is a toxic drug that must be converted into a harmless substance through oxidation. The liver works to eliminate 90% of the alcohol absorbed at 30cc (the quantity of a commercial bottled beer) of pure alcohol per hour, while the other 10% is eliminated along with the water that transports it in the bloodstream through urine, saliva, breath and sweat.
Alcohol is metabolized by the body at a rate of 0.016% per hour and nothing would speed up the rate at which the liver oxidizes alcohol. Regardless of whatever alcoholic drink one drank, once the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) reaches a certain level, the body automatically needs time to break down the alcohol, to remove it from the system.
Drinking between 5PM-11PM allows the body to properly detoxify itself by around 3:00AM regardless of how much alcohol one has consumed the night before since the body detoxes best at night when the muscles are relaxed almost to a point of virtual paralysis. When one drinks alcohol faster than the liver can eliminate it through detoxification, all the extra alcohol circulates in the bloodstream once every 30 Seconds which obviously affects the brain by impairing it gradually and putting it to sleep steadily. Drinking within those hours allows the liver to function as it should the next day giving the user’s anatomy maximum use, as it out to be.
Also, it is critical to observe the 5PM rule because: when a person starts to booze at 5PM, hardly would one indulge into the wee hours of the night, thus still be within the legal limit of driving which is can be measured with a breathalyzer commonly referred to as “Alco-blow” and still head home safe and sound at around 9PM. By that time jaywalkers, children, senior citizens, school buses and such are all off our roads to maximize the casualties in case of an incident devoid of the fact that, at that hour we also have people leaving work, evening classes for young adults and others communing to their place of work for night shifts.
Now put all that to mind, and understand my vision to eradicate the lethal illicit brews from Kiambu County, should be looked at as a Rescue Mission. First, it is on record that alcoholic deaths, illnesses and other conditions cost the exchequer over Kshs.200 Billion while we collect an estimated Kshs.60 Billion in revenue. If the documented Kshs.8 Billion is what is driving alcohol manufacturers and vendors wild let us see how much it is distributed Per Capita in Kiambu. If that amount was to be shared to the 2Million people of Kiambu County each resident would get Kshs.4,000 per year which translates to earning Kshs.10 daily.
Surely, even the small homeless parking boys earn a minimum of a 100/- to do menial jobs such as guarding your vehicles in the parking lot. Why would we be allowed to sell our souls to the devil that is Alcoholism, destroy our economy and destruct our future killing 7-10 Generations while at it? I would like to remind you that the whole wide world would have never forgiven nor forgotten the perpetrators had the over 50,000 people claimed by Alcoholism in Central Kenya, had lost their lives through a bomb explosion in one of our public gatherings.
I urge you all to come board to fight this menace and slay this heartless dragon, threatening to devour us to extinction. When we do so, Kiambu County will become economically viable and we shall undoubtedly salvage Billions of Shillings stolen through tax evasions in this infamous killer industry. Above All Let us Put God First in the ongoing “Operation Okoa Maisha” .May God Save Kiambu County! God Bless Kenya!