The rich yet unhealthy Kenyan drinking culture

As a sherehe nation, we are ultimately the master of masters when it comes to drinking alcohol

In Summary

• It can even be on a Monday morning and someone is already thinking of shots


Furaha ni kukuwa na marafiki, furaha ni kulewa na marafiki, Iyanii sang.

A club anthem that sums up the mood in October.

This is the month many beer lovers look forward to coming together and having fun.

Famously known to be a party and drinking nation, Kenyans have upheld the spirit of Oktobafest.

The event is the world’s largest beer festival that traces its origins back to 1810 in Munich, Germany.

It was mooted to honour the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria, who later became King Louis I, to Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen.

The Kenya Breweries Limited Tusker Oktobafest event has been a lively one this year.

Dubbed the ‘Ultimate Beer Festival,’ the event already went down in Tamasha, Eldoret and Jamii Executive Gardens, Mwea, with the culminating event in Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi.

According to KBL, the event is curated to offer revellers a chance to celebrate Kenyan authenticity.

This is by bringing to life the Kenyan culture through beer, entertainment, food and music.

Of late, our retail supermarkets have been channelling the Oktobafest energy properly.

Superstores like Quickmart have been selling beer at Sh100 for just one hour.

Trending since Mashujaa Day, the footfall at these supermarkets has been insane.

People queue from as early as 12 noon for a sale that is to be between 2pm and 3pm.

On Twitter, someone talked of how a lot of youth went for the discounted beer.

He went ahead and said how Kenya has a very drunk future.

On TikTok, someone made a funny video of himself queuing to buy beer and laughing with the people around him.

“Quickmart waliamua kutuuzia pombe mia… Aki majaribu! Hii kuenda mbinguni itakuwa ngumu lakini mapema ndio best,” he was heard saying, while laughing.

This translates to, “Quickmart decided to sell us liquor at Sh100… These temptations, I swear! The journey to heaven will be a difficult one but the earlier the better.”

I don’t know if the sale was in the spirit of Oktobafest, but what I know is that Kenya loves drinking.

A lot of foreigners who come to the country and get to experience our entertainment joints always have the same feedback:

You can never outdrink a Kenyan when it comes to alcohol consumption.


Rather than considering the health risks that come with excessive consumption of alcohol, drinking has been strongly embraced in Kenyan culture.

Excessive beer consumption can lead to fat accumulation in the abdomen, stroke risks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, daytime drowsiness, vitamin deficiency, kidney diseases and even hypertension.

It can even be on a Monday and someone somewhere is already thinking about going for shots.

It is only 10am in the morning and you are already thinking about alcohol!

It is funny how Kenyans can always complain about how they don’t have money despite being paid a week or two weeks ago, but when it comes to sherehe (partying), somehow, someway they have the money to buy rounds for friends.

Two weeks ago, news circulated that at least 43 entertainment joints in Nairobi would be closed down for noise pollution.

This sparked a debate online on whether these clubs should have their licences revoked or not.

City Hall made a U-turn on plans to revoke licenses of the 43 nightclubs.

Just like the social media unity Kenyans have during a Twitter war, for example, the same unity applies in sherehe moments.

Walk into clubs, restaurants and basically any entertainment joint, and you will get to see how we all get close.

You would meet a stranger in the club bathroom and you instantly become friends.

Some would even trust a stranger to look after their drink as they step out so that another stranger does not spike the drink.

And some would faithfully look after the drink until its owner came back to the table.

As a sherehe nation, a drinking nation, I don’t think that the drinking culture is going to end any time soon.

Whether you are pro-drinking or against drinking, Monday to Sunday, there is always somewhere where there is a party happening.

Drinking Nation

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