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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Kenyan alcoholic: 'I want to be high'
Kenyan Dick Rajero, 55, described his situation as a Chang'aa alcoholic to the BBC's African Perspective programme. His excessive drinking of the illegal locally brewed spirit has lost him his wife and his job.

A friend of Dick's in his pre-alcoholic days said: "He used to have status in the community. He had everything he needed to become a very successful man in life."


Man holding a glass of Chang'aa (Kenyan home brew) sitting round a table
Dick drinks the illicit brew because it is cheaper and stronger than beer

I started drinking Chang'aa when I was still in school.

A friend of mine was working in a bank. He would come see me and we would go out and sip a little.

I used to be married to a Ugandan.

She knew that I was drinking Chang'aa but she couldn't do anything to stop me because I was the boss of the house.

She did complain that she didn't like it though.

Black out

One day I drank Chang'aa, it was on a Saturday - I didn't go to work.

I took so much that I experienced a black out.

I was sleeping in a ditch, in sewage.

My woman was a very good woman - she came and collected me, brought me home and washed me.

I was so muddy and had even urinated

Remembering, I was embarrassed. I felt ashamed but I didn't feel like I was really the one that had been in that ditch.

Time went by and I couldn't make it to work on time, and then I couldn't even work anymore.

Lost everything

Then I lost my job in 1986 and that is when my heaviest drinking started.

And then she left - packed her bags and went back to Uganda.

I resorted to only drinking the illicit brew, Chang'aa, because I couldn't afford beer in brown bottles anymore.

You can drink a bottle of beer but you don't get what you want.

I want to be high.

I wish I had never started it, I do, and sometimes when I have the money I work out my budget.

But then I realise that I don't have enough money to do anything and so I drink, to forget my problems.

But it doesn't work, the problems continue.



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