FOR THE LOVE OF TIPPLE

Drunkards defend right to party

Clan development meeting ends up with protest.

In Summary
  • The leadership of a clan on the shores of Lake Victoria found the December break the right time to lecture its youth on the dangers of indulging in alcohol.
  • The targeted clan members were offended. They seethed with anger as elders raged with righteous indignation.

December – the season of celebrations – is not the time to lecture lovers of alcohol on morality. The counselling could be misunderstood as prejudicial, even if the advice is well intentioned.

But the leadership of a clan on the shores of Lake Victoria found the December break the right time to lecture its youth on the dangers of indulging in alcohol. The targeted clan members were offended. They seethed with anger as elders raged with righteous indignation.

They made it known the rights of drunkards were being suppressed. They also made it known they won't watch in silence.  The timing of the sermon on morality, they said, was wrong. Doing so on Christmas Day offended victims of the tongue-lashing. This, the targeted youth said, was an affront to their right to enjoy the indulgences of the season.

 

Speakers picked up issues with the bad behaviour of drunkards. The victims felt abused, even if the speakers had good intentions. The suspects were blamed for insecurity. They were probably responsible for stock theft. They were accused of sabotaging poultry farming. They were blamed for burglaries. They were a bad influence on school-going children. They were accused of rapes. Their bad influence was hurting the development of the clan, the village, and the community.

Whenever a goat is lost, they are the first suspects, even without evidence of their involvement. Whenever there is a burglary, they are the suspects. Drinking alcohol here is synonymous with crime.

One case stood out for its daring and wit. Sheep, or lamb, don't bleat, even when placed in unusual positions. Thieves exploit this silence to steal. The number of sheep in the village is falling because they are easy to steal.

Those who drink and ride boda bodas were reprimanded. Riding a motorcycle and being friends with drunkards earns you a special place among saboteurs of clan development.

One case stood out for its daring and wit. Sheep, or lamb, don't bleat, even when placed in unusual positions. Thieves exploit this silence to steal. The number of sheep in the village is falling because they are easy to steal.

Here is how:  A boda boda operator and his accomplice target a flock before making a move. They have to plot when, and how, to do it. When they do, they always pick the best to match the risk.

Once this is done, the boda boda operator finds a jacket and a hat, or a headscarf and a sweater, depending on whether they want to parody a male or female passenger. The dressed animal is then tied at the back of the rider, with its covered legs protruding at the sides. That way, witnesses are fooled into thinking those are a passenger's hands and legs. Sundown is the preferred time to pull the prank.

When disguised it's easy to believe the ‘passenger’ is a man or a woman being rushed on some errand. This may have happened as many times, as sheep or lambs have been stolen.

Once upon a theft a boda boda operator and his ‘passenger’ fell off when the motorbike slipped off the road on a mud-drenched day. The passenger was a neighbour's lamb.

The operator was a stranger, but his accomplice was a village youth, known for his excess chang'aa drinking habits. The man dropped out of school, three years ago. The suspect was a hardened thief. Proceeds of crime paid for his drinks.

They wanted the meeting to know there is solidarity among them unlike those whose drinks are limited to tea, coffee or uji...Alcohol, they claimed, brings out the best, and humanises its consumers.

The young man didn't have a regular job. For food he relied on his parents. The parents also fed his wife and two children. He would steal a goat here, a chicken there, and a ram somewhere. He was also known for waylaying politicians for handouts. Occasionally, he would be a heckler for hire.

Whenever he was out of jail, he would return to the old habits like nothing had happened. Some younger villagers were following his criminal ways. He was their role model.

On this occasion he wanted money for alcohol, shouting, demanding even as the clan meeting proceeded. The best way to find money was though stealing, but he had been here the whole day. The man and others like him could not take the bashing anymore.

One of them broke into song: 'Wan jokong'o waherore. Gilas achiel wamadho ji ariyo (We alcohol drinkers love one another. Two of us can drink from one glass).'

They wanted the meeting to know there is solidarity among them unlike those whose drinks are limited to tea, coffee or uji. Another lot broke into another song: 'Odiero I'm not sober! Odiero I'm not sober!' They chimed, as the chairman pleaded for calm. The protest was underway as the sun set on the meeting.

Alcohol, they claimed, brings out the best, and humanises its consumers. Their popular tunes enlivened the occasion, even as they showed the other side of drinking. The drunkards were telling their story. They were defending their rights to say pole to their work-hardened bodies.

The clan had gathered to review its development agenda, but ended up with a protest to defend the rights of drunkards.