Gachagua: How I lost my three brothers to alcohol

Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua at his official residence in Karen, Nairobi, on February 13, 2024.

Photo credit: DPCS

What you need to know:

  • Mr Gachagua said the loss of his siblings has made him a very lonely man in his father’s compound.
  • The DP said many people, some in government, want him to go easy on the war on alcoholsim.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has revealed how he lost his siblings to alcoholism.

Speaking during an interview on Inooro TV Sunday night, Gachagua said he was born in a family of nine siblings - four brothers, and five sisters - but alcoholism had consumed all his brothers.

“When you see me committed to battling this culture of death that is substance abuse, it is because it has made my own family weep. All homesteads have scars of alcoholism and mine is not exceptional,” Gachagua said.

“My brother Dr Wachira Gachagua died of alcoholism He was practicing medicine in South Africa. He took too much of the spirits as his wife warned him to no avail. I went for his body in 2012 and buried him. In 2014 my brother Nderitu Gachagua died of resultant pancreatic cancer...” he stated.

His other brother — Mr Reriani Gachagua — he said, “was an alcoholic who never listened to me…I tried taking him even to rehabilitation. I tried to live with him in my house. When I became deputy president in 2022 I was so happy that I gave him money to go and celebrate. He went into alcohol. He died.”

Mr Gachagua said the loss of his siblings to alcoholism has made him a very lonely man in his father’s compound surrounded by graves brought about by alcohol.

He said he also had taken to alcohol consumption until his wife — Pastor Dorcas Rigathi — talked him out of it.

“Had I not heeded her, chances are that I would also be dead and not be the current Deputy President,” he said.

Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: DPCS

He said the brands being taken are that a quarter of a litre bottle is sipped in turns by three people “and by the time the third is having his turn, the one who was first is already down and the second on his knees.”

It is in those circumstances that the Deputy President said he is opposed to the recent court ruling in Kiambu county that gave the Agikuyu community’s traditional brew Muratina a thumbs up.

“Regardless of that court ruling certifying Muratina’s brewing as a traditional brew, we must develop basic rules. The elders whom the court gave authority to preside over its brewing cannot be trusted. As they are now, some of them cannot be trusted to make Muratina for traditional occasions,” he said.

“These elders we have around cannot wait for Muratina to ferment for five days. They don’t have much patience with alcohol. They want instant Muratina. They will lace it with all manner of catalysts including mortuary chemicals to speed it up,” he said.

He said he would meet with the elders and first unite them “since we cannot even start talking of how they can brew Muratina when they are so divided”.

The DP revealed that there are many people, some even in government, who are warning him to go easy on the war on alcoholism.

“They cite economic and political risks. They warn that others have tried in the past and failed. My response to them is that those who tried and failed were not going by the name Rigathi Gachagua.

"I am ready to face those risks they are citing and if push comes to shove, I was not born to remain popular in politics and I can as well go home to stay with my wife,” he said.

To prove he is serious, he said 42, 000 police officers have been earmarked for transfers for overstaying in one station.

“Some have been in one station for three years, others for nine years. Enough time to become cartels that even transfer their bosses. We must have officers who have not been indoctrinated into the wayward ways of the societies they are serving,” he said.

Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua.

Photo credit: DPCS

The second in command said the war on alcoholism and drug abuse will not be abandoned “and if anything it will be made more vicious since it is a national security problem”.

He said alcohol has held hostage a productive population who should be rehabilitated and made sober to help in nation-building.

Mr Gachagua said President William Ruto's administration is working hard to ensure there are profitable opportunities even for those who will sober up from their addictions.

“For instance, the president is set to anytime announce an Sh6 billion debt waiver for coffee farmers to ensure earnings do not go to servicing debts and good earnings entice recovering addicts to venture into the sector,” he said.

He added that the fertilizer subsidy programme is also meant to make profits more elastic in the agrarian economy, adding that starting next month New KCC will be buying a litre of milk at Sh50 and the price moving up to Sh60 by the close of 2025.

He said he will soon be meeting with avocado farmers to hear them out regarding their opposition to the five percent presumption tax that Finance Bill 2023 introduced.

Mr Gachagua promised that the Finance Bill 2024 would be friendlier, more reasonable, and economically progressive.

“We have since alerted the parliamentary Finance Committee to ensure that the next Finance Bill is friendly since we have come out of the danger zone where we needed more taxes to service debts that were leading our country to the auctioneers,” he said.