More than 500 youths from Makwa village in Gatundu North constituency, Kiambu, have been struck by the light of sobriety and turned into nation builders.
The group, which was part of a cartel that feeds the thriving evil of chang’aa, bhang and other hard drugs on the banks of River Chania in Kiambu county, turned over a new leaf with some confessing to having been brewers, distributors and retailers of the killer drinks as well as peddling drugs.
The welcome change comes as the county seeks to enforce the recently legislated Alcoholic Drinks Control Amendment Bill, which sought to have the age limit of alcohol consumers raised from 18 to 21 years.
The bill further requires licences of all wines and spirits outlets cancelled and bar owners compelled to display a list of products on sale to tame manufacturing and consumption of illicit brews.
Last month, Makwa village captured national attention when five men committed suicide over illicit liquor, causing local leaders and the community to seek a solution to the matter, which had been left to grow into a monster.
Speaking during a prayer rally which sought to redeem the residents from illegal brews to a new dawn of hope and economic growth, the youth vowed to mend their behaviour and adhere to rehabilitation rules to better their future.
It was at the rally that the drug peddlers and chang’aa brewers declared their decision to stop engaging in the illegal trade that has ruined many lives. Led by Michael Githinji, a former alcohol addict, the reformists attributed their change of behaviour to creation of opportunities by Kiambu County government.
Martin Kimotho, a reformed addict, said despite his parents’ struggle to educate him up to college level, he was lured to chang’aa brewing, which made him lose interest in other productive ventures and need to start a family.
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, MPs Gathoni Wamuchomba and Wanjiku Kibe among other leaders, vowed to unite to tame the vice, which they said had rendered many families hopeless. The leaders vowed to start rehabilitation programmes for the addicts to ensure they reform and engage in viable and sustainable economic activities.
Waititu, who announced a ban of all alcohol sales in Gatundu North pending the actualisation of alcohol licence regulation, said the converts would receive a Sh300 stipend daily, food and clothes from the county coffers until they recover fully.
Kibe attributed the rise of domestic violence in the area to resurfacing use of illegal liquor and drugs. “Previously, leaders were not united in fighting illicit brews because most of them were beneficiaries but we are now united,” she said.