‘Mchele’ is the Kiswahili word for the popular cereal of the grass species Oryza sativa, which is known in English as rice and scientifically as Oryza glaberrima. The carbohydrate-rich food was brought to the East African coast by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama circa the 15th century.
For many Kenyans, however, ‘mchele’ is no longer a cereal; it’s a trap charm by serial thieves aiming to harvest where they didn’t sow. Of late, there have been many reported cases of bar patrons being drugged and then robbed. Not one but several people have fallen victim to this fast-rising menace.
Some rogue workers in clubs located in the cities and big towns allegedly collaborate with ‘mchele’ queens, who approach club patrons and spike their drink. They then rob them of their valuables—and even non-valuable items—as they lie unconscious owing to the demobilising effects of the drug.
The targeted individuals are usually men who have gone out to drink and are seated alone. The thieving women take advantage of the lonely person and use that opportunity to lure them and spike their drink.
As if spiking your drink and then stealing from you is not enough, these thieves even take out loans from nearly all loan apps and websites one can think of, leaving their victim to endure the everlasting torture of credit reference bureaus (CRBs).
The other day, the DCI posted a ‘list of shame’ of the members of the ‘mchele ministry of spiking’. I appreciate the research, that alcohol causes blurred vision, because I doubt if a sober person would approach the criminals.
However, there are numerous ways you can save yourself from falling into their trap. First and foremost, avoid sharing a table with strangers in a bar. Head to your favourite joint with a teetotaller friend or two, or those who don’t drink excessively.
The moment you have your drink served, ensure that you don’t turn your eyes away from it. Ensure that you always keep an eye on your drink and those of your drinking partners.
Furthermore, the law that you should never go against is, “Once you open a drink, don’t leave for anywhere without finishing it.” At worst, carry it with you even to the loo! That will help you to avoid having your drink spiked.
Further, avoid getting excessively drunk because that can easily make you the target of these criminals. And while travelling by public transport, never accept food, drink or medication from strangers.
Last but not least, after buying your drink, head home straight and enjoy drinking it at the comfort of your home, watching your favourite television show if you so wish. While at home, at least you will consume the correct safe mchele and save your wallet from being emptied by thugs.
Lucky Oluoch (@LuckyOluoch) & Max Ayaga (@AyagaMax), via email