BY WASEEM CARRIM
A man smokes a dagga pipe. The writer says in South Africa 80% of male youth deaths are alcohol-related and drug consumption is estimated to be twice the world norm
BY WASEEM CARRIM
A man smokes a dagga pipe. The writer says in South Africa 80% of male youth deaths are alcohol-related and drug consumption is estimated to be twice the world norm
By Hanna Brooks Olsen
I was poor and couldn’t pay rent, so I started selling weed
When I was in college, everyone really liked Weeds. It had just come out and it was kind of groundbreaking — a suburban widow, complete with perfectly imperfect hair and a seemingly endless closet full of Going Out tops, driving a Range Rover and selling pot.
Whenever someone in class talked about it, I rolled my eyes. I knew there was no way she was making a living — in a posh suburb, no less — on dimebags sold to PTA moms.
I knew exactly how much money you could make selling weed because I had been doing it. And, frankly, it wasn’t a lot. But, hoo boy, was it a lot of trouble.
The first time I sold a $20 of Vancouver’s finest hay-stinking pot, I went to some guy’s apartment. A friend had texted the guy my number. Then, the guy called to give me his address.
“You can just text me next time,” I said.
“I don’t want to get arrested,” he said.
“Well, don’t text ‘HEY I NEED POT.’ Like, be normal about it,” I said.
“Okay,” he said. And gave me his address.
I walked over to his place. My boyfriend had told me not to carry the digital scale because if I got stopped, I could get an additional charge for intent to distribute. No shit, I thought. I knew a kid who got popped for intent when we were in the eighth grade. Just like every other aspect of life, selling pot was an opportunity for men to talk to me like I didn’t know what I was doing.
Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, I learned about pot pretty early. My mom and dad both still called it “dope” and, even though everyone assumed my mom probably smoked a lot (she drove a Volkswagen and burned a lot of incense), my parents said dope made you stupid. I remain certain that, now that it’s legal, my dad would actually really enjoy it. But that’s a different essay altogether.
A lot of my parents’ friends smoked, and downtown Eugene pretty much always had that faint odor of sweet burning grass and sweaty human bodies. So by the time I got to college, I knew my way around a bud.
Just like every other aspect of life, selling pot was an opportunity for men to talk to me like I didn’t know what I was doing.
I also knew that the weed the kids in my dorm were smoking was hot garbage, so I felt comfortable pinching the bag a little bit — which is to say, it was on the light side. I tucked it next to my tampons in my purse, which is where literally all people with periods put something they’re trying to hide. If you ever want to find drugs or something else belonging to a person who menstruates, look in the tampon pouch.
Walking along the off-campus path, already a little stoned on the stash that would soon belong to this other kid, I felt strange. It had happened quickly, this leap into doing something pretty damn illegal, and yet every little step I took seemed so benign.
Earlier that year, I’d learned that a friend of a friend was going to pick up a brick of something a little less grotesque than what was floating around campus. They were driving about an hour south, and there was an extra seat in the car, and if I had $40 I could get in on it. I had nothing else to do, so I donated some plasma, got the cash, and went for a ride.
It all became a little too real as I stood in a terrifying bedroom in an even more terrifying apartment complex. Within my line of vision, I could see no fewer than three — probably unlicensed — firearms and some exotic animals. One bare lightbulb in the ceiling blasted down on all of us while the guy pulled out a literal garbage bag full of cannabis.
And, suddenly, we were in business. Iwas in business.
I hadn’t realized the amount of weight we were picking up or the fact that it would be way more than we could burn through ourselves (even though some of those guys could really put it away). Apparently, that had been the plan all along.
I feel the need to be quite clear at this part of the story. The boys (and I use that word on purpose) who became my business partners were bored, wealthy, white kids from the suburbs who thought it was cool and fun to play baddie. They were in college because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives. They were into weed and all of its trappings (video games, eating cereal for dinner) as a hobby. I was poor as hell and putting myself through school by doing just about any odd job I could get. But we all lived in the dorms, so we were de facto friends. Because that’s how college is, I guess.
Because I was poor and couldn’t pay rent, suddenly I became the sentinel. The Nancy Botwin of the college.
On the drive back, they made plans, shouting over Jack Johnson and Coheed and Cambria.
We would move just enough to pay for our own supply — just little bags here and there. We could smoke all the crumbs and it would be cool and we’d never need to pay for our own pot again. A quick drive down once a week on the weekends would re-up the stash and we’d use the money we made to buy the next batch. No crossing state lines, no big sales. So easy!
And it was easy for a while. I didn’t have to do anything; I was just around, getting smoked out sometimes and kicking it. Occasionally, I went for the car ride, but not often, if I could help it.
But then the boys moved off-campus spring quarter, and because I was poor and couldn’t pay rent, suddenly I became the sentinel. The Nancy Botwin of the college. I would be the boots (okay, Birkenstocks) on the ground.
It was decided, for me but not by me, that I would now be in charge of distribution. I would be dropping bags all over the place like a little pixie of pot.
They gave me a lockbox containing Kirkland Signature fold-over sandwich bags. They showed me how to weigh out a bag, as though I hadn’t been sitting right next to them all quarter, watching them do it. They went over all the measurements, as though I hadn’t been party to all of it already.
workplace, on the bus, while volunteering — but it became explicitly clear when I brought that first sad little bag of weed to a stranger in an apartment down the street.
I went to his door and knocked. He let me in, introducing himself.
I don’t care, I thought. He brought me into his room. His roommate wasn’t home, he said, but he didn’t want him to come back because he didn’t “want to share.”
I assumed he meant the weed, but, honestly, I can’t be sure.
He laid down on the bed, propping his head up in his hand.
“So, what kind of stuff do you like to do?” he asked.
Oh god, I thought, he thinks this is a date.
At first, I tried to appease him. Being friendly had always worked well in my service jobs. After he started droning on about going to a festival or something — “You should come with some time! Do you like live music?” — I had to put an end to it. I pulled out the bag.
“That’s it?” he asked, looking at the nugget.
“Yup,” I said.
“Is it okay if I weigh it?” he asked, reaching under his bed.
Ah, fuck, I thought. Now I have to go through this whole thing.
“I really don’t care,” I answered, watching him pull out a gas station scale.
He weighed the whole thing. Bag and all. And he nodded. I stifled a smile.
“Okay,” he said. “$20?”
“Yup,” I said.
He pulled out crisp, fresh-from-the-ATM bill. I wondered if his parents knew how their darling boy was spending their money while he was away at school. I would get to keep half. It hardly seemed worth it.
Even if I could sell him nothing but seeds and stems, it wasn’t worth another afternoon pretending to care about his CD collection.
“Want to stay and smoke a little?” he asked, gesturing at plastic bong, crusted with residue.
“Sorry, I have other drops to make,” I lied.
“Cool, well…” he began as he sat forward on a bed covered in flannel sheets that I’m positive had not been washed all year, “I’ve got your number. So… can I call you some time? Maybe we can go out?”
“I’m a lesbian,” I halfway lied.
“Oh, sorry,” he said. “Well, thanks!”
Leaving his apartment, I texted my friend who’d set up the deal.
“He hit on me,” I told him.
“Really?” he asked. “That’s never happened to me.”
I saw the kid around campus many times, at least twice at parties with my boyfriend. I always acted as though I didn’t know him, and whenever he texted me for a bag, I would say I was dry. Even if I could sell him nothing but seeds and stems, it wasn’t worth another afternoon pretending to care about his CD collection.
That was another lesson I learned from my first time selling weed: some things aren’t worth the money.
By Aderonke Sonaike
Youths have been urged to shun illicit drugs to avoid destroying their lives.
A representative of the Lagos State Kicks Against Drug Abuse School Campaign (LASKADA), Mrs. Adetayo Asagba, gave the advice yesterday at a youth summit held at Surulere Local Government Secretariat.
Some drugs, she said, could be cheap, but their side effect was terrible.
She said: “It starts with truncation of a vital body organ. It moves to the brain, it can lead to madness. Eventually if someone isn’t careful, it leads to death.”
The summit was organised by the national Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), in conjunction with the Legislative Arm of the Surulere Local Government.
Asagba, who delivered a lecture on drug abuse at the event, said: “We all have a very bright future ahead of us. Let’s not use our hands to destroy our lives. The use of illicit drugs will ruin us.”
NYCN state Secretary Comrade Ridwan Tinubu said the cardinal objective for every youth organisation was to train the trainer.
He said: ”As youths, you don’t need to think about what the government can do for you. You need to think about what you can do for the government. Youths should contribute their quota in terms of intellectual capacity to ensure the development of their communities.”
House of Representatives Majority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by Mr. Alli Balogun, urged youths to be part of the electoral process.
“Do not see yourself as future leaders. Rather, participate in the electoral process to be part of the ruling class. Our future is here. We are the leaders of today and tomorrow,” he said.
Source – The Nation
By Venessa Nyasio
A new bizarre wave of drug and substance abuse in Indonesia has left people worried and completely tongue tied thanks to the extent youth are going so as to get high.
TUKO.co.ke understands a large number of merrymakers have turned to boiling sanitary pads so as to get a temporary rush.
According to Dailymail, the teenagers have taken to this peculiar habit as it is a cheap and readily accessible source of stimulant.
The drug users boil either used or unused sanitary towels then proceed to gulp down the drink which has been described as bitter but highly effective.
They then feel like they are ‘flying’ and often tend to hallucinate after partaking in the unusual hallucinogen.
Some have even gone as far as boiling used nappies and drinking the liquid.
A teen who is a loyal user of the new drug said the pad first needs to be unwrapped then dipped in boiling water for an hour or so.
It is then left to cool after which the sanitary towel is squeezed till all the liquid pours out of it.
The teens then proceed to drink the water which leaves them inebriated.
“The used pads they took from the trash were put in boiling water. After it cooled down, they drank it together,” Senior Commander Suprinarto, head of the Indonesian National Drug Agency said.
Source – Tuko
The two-day workshop for district coordinators of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP) ended on Sunday at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru, with fresh commitment to engage in preventive measures against narcotic drugs and Gender Based Violence.
The youth volunteers also resolved to enhance awareness against human trafficking, teen pregnancies, domestic conflicts and engage in activities against malnutrition while educating communities on proper feeding of children.
During the two- day workshop, the youth were enlightened on various pertinent issues such as human trafficking, GBV, drugs, child abuse and legal instruments including the new penal code.
The Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Soline Nyirahabimana, while speaking at the closing of the workshop commended the youth for the spirit of volunteerism and urged them to create impact in their communities.
Present was also the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) in charge of Administration and Personnel, Juvenal Marizamunda.
“Your commendable human security activities are in line with the national human capital policy, and we believe such energy and spirit of patriotism can also address serious issues of teen pregnancies, poor feeding, illicit drugs among others,” Minister Nyirahabimana said.
She urged them to mobilize and sensitize their fellow youth in communities to desist from unlawful acts of abusing drugs and sexual malpractice, which lead to unwanted pregnancies and contracting STDs especially HIV/AIDS.
“The government target is to be a middle income country by 2035 and a developed country by 2050. This target cannot be realized when children are being abused, when parents don’t know about healthy feeding and the young people are being destroyed by drugs,” the Minister said.
Abdallah Murenzi, the national Coordinator for RYVCP, said members acquired vast knowledge on national security and development programmes and what is required of them to reinforce efforts to address issues at hand.
“Basically our major task is to influence positive change. We will therefore realign our activities to mobilize the public against criminal activities, educate them on proper feeding and their role in community policing. We need all hands to be together in security and development matters of their communities,” Murenzi said.
Source – Taarifa
The Inspector General of Police Dan Munyuza said that although safety and security is guaranteed in Rwanda, issues related to illicit drugs, child pregnancies, poor feeding and gender based violence remain one of the bottlenecks that should be given emphasis to address.
The Police Chief made the remarks, yesterday, while officiating at the opening of the two-day workshop for members of Rwanda Youth Volunteers in Community Policing (RYVCP).
The workshop held at Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru seeks to address some of the issues affecting security and development in communities.
IGP Munyuza thanked the youth volunteers for their commendable work in human security activities over the last five years, and urged them to realign their activities with the pressing issues.
“You fall in the policing structures as force multiplier and you are here for a reason. We expect you to leave here with a changed mind and with purpose to fight illicit drugs, be the voice and eye against all sorts of child abuse and spread the message against proper feeding of children,” IGP Munyuza said.
Human security and community development activities conducted by RYVCP since its creation in 2013 are valued at about Rwf700 million.
These include construction and rehabilitation of over 13300 houses for the disadvantaged families, construction and rehabilitation of 1440km of roads linking communities, construction of 1989 toilets, planting of about 700,000 trees as part of the afforestation and environmental conservation programme.
“You are not involved in all these for a pay but because of your patriotic heart and sacrificing for your country. We call for your strong partnership to guarantee the better future for the youngsters who are being seduced into sexual malpractices and drugs,” the IGP said.
Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, observed that cases related to teenage pregnancy and family conflicts continue to rise.
The PS said that the youth were identified to partner in addressing such challenges including actively engaging in the customary social coercion traditionally known as umugoroba w’ababyeyi and educating communities on proper feeding for good health, child protection, family planning and the ongoing ‘Girl2Leader’ campaign.
Launched early last month, Girl2Leader campaign seeks to encourage girls to unlock their leadership potential and to bring together different public and private institutions, parents, children, youth, leaders, teachers and the general public to prevent and combat teen pregnancies and defilement in particular.
Reports indicate that the number of teen mothers is high in the districts of Gatsibo, Nyagatare, Kirehe, Bugesera, Gasabo, Rubavu, Kayonza, Musanze, Ngoma and Rwamagana.
The 2018 Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis report also identifies Burera, Gicumbi, Gisagara, Nyaruguru, Ngororero, Nyamasheke and Rutsiro as the districts where cases of poor feeding remain high despite the overall 8 percent reduction in the whole country.
Abdallah Murenzi, the national coordinator for RYVCP, said that the organization is composed of the educated and elite young people, who have the will and ability to understand and address issues at hand.
“We have members and structures down to the village level, and we will leave here with priority tasks; to make umugoroba w’ababyeyi active, educate the people on proper feeding, continue Umuganda especially constructing organic gardens and focus much on campaign against drugs in schools,” Murenzi said.
The youth group, which has about 260, 000 members across the country, also constructed about 6000 organic gardens, locally known as akarima k’igikoni to supplement the national efforts against malnutrition.
Source – New Times
By Brenda Mkwesha
When I read a headline like “Why Alcohol Consumption Among Youth Is On the Rise“, I am excited but then get quickly disappointed by the content that follows. My excitement stems from the fact that ten years ago such headlines were not commonplace in East Africa. However, in my opinion, the content is lackluster as it seeks to glamorize youth who use alcohol.
Big Alcohol and the media: the Western way of dealing with alcohol
Africa is known to be the “emerging market” for Big Alcohol and our young people are a prime target group for multinational alcohol corporations. In 2013, TIME wrote “Africa’s Drinking Problem: Alcoholism on the Rise as Beverage Multinationals Circle” and in 2015 The Wall Street Journal wrote about Diageo in Africa: “Thirsty for Growth, Liquor Giant Taps African Market.”
As Western companies (Diageo, based in London, is the world’s largest liquor company) try to establish European levels of alcohol consumption across Sub-Saharan Africa, alcohol-related problems are increasingly covered by the African media outlets. Unfortunately, like in the All Africa article I cite above, they often seem to address alcohol in a way that falls short of addressing the core issues.
Africa, don’t become like the West
Europe is the heaviest alcohol consuming region in the world. In Europe, young people bear a disproportionate burden of alcohol-related harm and in Europe.
1. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for ill-health and premature death for the core of the European working age population (25 to 59 years of age).
2. Alcohol is responsible for annual productivity losses of €74 billion across the EU and negatively affects the health of 25% of staff in major companies.
3. In the United States, the societal costs of addiction are $249 billion for alcohol harm, according to the Surgeon General.
Alcohol use is so high in Europe and North America that the market is largely saturated. In that context, Africas has become
the new darling of multinational beverage companies looking to drive profits in an increasingly booze-saturated world. The continent has the perfect emerging-market conditions: a relatively small amount of commercial alcohol is being consumed; there is a rising middle class with disposable income; a huge market of young people is about to come of age; and there is an informal moonshine sector, up to 4 times the size of the commercial market, that governments would like to control.”
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 that:
The global spirits industry sees Africa as the final frontier—a potentially huge market that is largely untapped.
Only 2% of the industry’s profits came from Africa and the Middle East in 2013, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Between 2013 and 2017, the continent’s liquor market is projected to grow by 45%, to $2.39 billion, Diageo has told investors.”
So, before Big Alcohol and the Western way of covering alcohol stories take over Mama Africa, let me set the record straight and address the core of the issue why our youth is consuming more alcohol.
The real reasons why alcohol use among youth in Africa is on the rise are as follows:
1. Advertising and marketing towards youth
This is consciously and strategically done by Big Alcohol.
The types of ads in African TVs, the giant billboards and the mainstream media as well as social media are all targete towards youth.
The ads glamorize alcohol, show users as successful, virile, fun loving men; they also portray young women as independent, cool and sexy by using alcohol.
Alcohol ads lie to youth about status and effects. None of the ads, show a diabetes patient, a breast cancer patient, a person maimed by a driver under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol producers sponsor almost all entertainment in Africa. This ranges from sports, to arts, and music festivals and so on.
2. Easy and wide accessibility for anyone including youth
Alcohol selling shops and bars are ubiquitous in this part of the world. They have become part of the landscape. Alcohol is available in supermarkets, kiosks or tuckshops, bars, pubs, restaurants, and bbq places.
Alcohol is the most common commodity sold in our countries. Children pass by establishments selling alcohol on their way to school, church, to play and to visit their friends.
3. The price of alcohol is low and easily affordable
Alcohol is very cheap. Spirits “viroba” mentioned in the All Africa article costs less than $20 cents for a 40ml packet.
Prices of beer are also very low and can be afforded by secondary school pupils through use of their pocket money.
Even Big Alcohol has seen the profitability of cheap alcohol and started their own cheap beer brands to attract the low income groups and youth – as is evident in the aggressive promotion of super-cheap alcohol. The Wall Street Journal reports: “All the real action is when you go below 200 Kenyan shillings,” around $2, says John Williams, marketing director at Kenya Breweries Ltd., a Diageo subsidiary.
Increase taxation on alcohol would ward off youth from using alcohol.
4. Alcohol policies are either non-existent or not fully implemented
This is due to the aggressive lobbying that Big Alcohol engages in – case in point South Africa, Ghana, Uganda where efforts to regulate alcohol more progressively and evidence-based are being stalled; or the example of attempts to water down existing laws such as the Alcoholic Drinks Act in Kenya.
Youth, Africa’s present and future
The alcohol industry has realized that our youth is their future. Do we allow this? Do we allow multinational alcohol corporations to reap gigantic profits on the back of our youth, our communities and our society?
What we need to realize as Africans is that our present and future hinges on our youth!
Without the youth we are doomed. Without their leadership, their efforts to build sustainable communities, their skills and dreams of a better tomorrow, without their understanding and vision for Africa, we will not defeat poverty, climate change and inequality. Without our young Africans sustainable development will not be achievable.
And therefore, I think it is imperative that we protect them from Big Alcohol. Media must play their part. Politicians must honor their responsibility. Community leaders must share in the effort.
Alcohol is a massive obstacle to development. It takes away the time youth have to volunteer, to work, to be productive citizens for our continent. Alcohol takes always the little money the youth make leading to lack of investment and growth. Alcohol causes NCDs – adding to the already humongous burden of disease that Africa has.
Do we want Africa to remain in the back? Of course not, however, if we do not stop Big Alcohol by fully implemented policies that put the health of the continent first, taxation and providing our youth with alcohol free environments where they can play, learn and be innovative without hindrance, we are only rearing poverty, despair and disease.