What you need to know:
- The minors acted as dishwashers, ensuring that there were enough cups for the customers to drink.
- Teenagers became waiters, actively serving the drinks to their clients as their parents busied themselves with the brewing.
The government sent children home to protect them from Covid-19, but in Kiambu County, this delivered them right into the jaws of liquor.
Soweto is a small informal settlement in Kiambu County that is infamous for brewing and selling the most potent liquor.
The residents do not complain much because they have accepted chang’aa. When the children came home, some went into reading and discovering their gifts.
But in Soweto, children became an extra pair of hands in their parents’ chang’aa business as their colleagues in other places were studying online.
The minors acted as dishwashers, ensuring that there were enough cups for the customers to drink.
Teenagers became waiters, actively serving the drinks to their clients as their parents busied themselves with the brewing.
Distillation and sale of chang’aa is booming business and, according to the children I have spoken to, it is what they have seen their parents rely on as a source of income since birth.
Without chang’aa, they say, their parents would not have been able to take care of them. I have lived in Soweto since childhood. In all that time, I have not heard complaints from the community about the damage that the liquor does to young men and women.
Central Kenya has fought and continues to battle with the burden of alcohol abuse.
There are cases of people who are now blind due to chang’aa and other bootleg drinks. Once a person becomes an addict, they cannot be a good employee, parent or friend. But the society is silent as they drag children into this mess.
The silence also extends to those who are supposed to enforce the law.
Occasionally, police officers patrol the area and arrest the culprits who are seen back in the game a few days later. But the police do not charge them in court.
I suspect it is because the brewers bribe the officers because some of the traders are friends with the police.
My request is to the government to protect children in Soweto, especially now that the residents and local police have either chosen not to or failed to do so.