What you need to know:
- Records also show that the village is notorious as the source of chang’aa.
- Even arresting and jailing of known distillers of the illegal drink has not borne fruit.
- Maragua MP Mary Wamaua Waithira blamed low literacy levels and a criminal mind-set for the village's woes.
- Some villagers who spoke to the Nation blamed the authorities for the ever-worsening situation.
Maica Ma Thi is a village in Maragua, Murang’a County, which has many times been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Since the early 1960s, police have always singled out the village as the source of gangs that have had a strong grip on Maragua town.
Records also show that the village is notorious as the source of chang’aa. Even arresting and jailing of known distillers of the illegal drink has not borne fruit.
“This village called Maica Ma Thi (lowly life) is one single area that has given our security personnel a headache,” says Murang’a County Commissioner Mohammed Barre.
“It has youths so much misguided that they were born to be chang’aa and bhang traders to a point that they do not see the folly of arming themselves with arrows and machetes to fight police officers on crackdown missions against their distilleries,” he said.
He defines the village as one “which has very energetic youths, very good hearted by nature, enterprising and determined to succeed in life, only that the path of their choice to success is criminal”.
Former Ichagaki Chief Mohammed Ali Mzee said he found his predecessors still fighting chang’aa in this village.
“Great grandfathers, grandfathers, fathers and now sons in this village have only known one industry to give them money and it is chang’aa trade. Family members in this village are regulars in Kigumo law courts and Murang’a remand and jail,” Mzee explained.
Murang’a South Deputy County Commissioner Mawira Mungania said security agencies in the area have set aside more time and resources to attend to this village.
“We have scheduled twice-a-week patrols in this village. The complicated part of it is that the same village has links with other neighbouring distilleries hence making our patrols to be a game of hide and seek – we hit here, they change site to another area and so on,” he said.
Some villagers who spoke to the Nation blamed the authorities for the ever-worsening situation.
“Chang’aa has good returns. The money in it has been so attractive to security personnel to a point that these distillers are like a government. The patrols are only meant to hoodwink us that something is being done. Yes, something being done is sharing out the proceeds,” said a villager who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Maragua MP Mary Wamaua Waithira said the village has two major enemies — low literacy levels and a criminal mind-set which she said need both leadership and policing to battle.
She said the patrols cannot be called off and illegal activities cannot be sanctioned in the guise of helping the youth remain in the earning bracket.
“We insist police patrols be serious and focused. We are also faced with the question of how to arm those willing to abandon chang’aa brewing with alternative life skills to earn them their daily bread. It is a challenge for all of us controlling grassroots development funds as well as non-governmental organisations to come up with well thought-out income-generating projects for them,” she said.