The Nation (Nairobi)

3 October 2011

Kenya: Poor Morals Blamed for Alcohol Abuse

The Catholic Church blames rising cases of alcoholism on the breakdown of the family. Parents, according to John Cardinal Njue, had abandoned their responsibilities of bringing up their children, leaving the young ones to grow up on their own.

Cardinal Njue called for concerted efforts to restore strong family values so as to check alcoholism and drug abuse.

"In areas where we have strong family support systems, these cases are fewer, he said.

The church had stepped in to fill the void by setting up structures to guide all sectors of the society and instilling strong moral values, said.

Moral teachings

Cardinal Njue, however, welcomed government efforts to crack down on illicit and poisonous liquor but noted these had to be augmented with moral teachings.

The clergyman was speaking in Mathira, Nyeri County during a fundraising in aid of St Joseph Miiri Catholic Parish. A culture of alcoholism is especially rife in central Kenya.

The government has launched a major war on illicit and lethal spirits packed in plastic bottles following the death of at least 30 people after consuming drinks laced with dangerous chemicals.

However, the church sees the crackdown as only a short-term measure, saying the individual has to be empowered to make the right decisions.

Cardinal Njue said the best place for instilling such morals was the family, but was disappointed that most families had fallen apart, exposing children, some at a tender age, to vices.

He gave the example of miraa growing regions, where school-going children were skipping lessons to work in the farms.

The Catholic Church, he said, had put in place support mechanisms for people of all ages, to guide them on Christian values.

Separately, police in neighbouring Kirinyaga County on Monday raided a chang'aa den and seized 110 litres of the drink.

A suspected distiller was arrested during the operation near River Tana in Sagana.

Police storm den

The police, acting on a tip-off, stormed the den in the morning and found the suspect selling alcohol. He was arrested and the drink confiscated.

The suspect is in custody at the Wang'uru Police Station.

Area deputy head of police, Mr Ronald Kimeyo, said the suspect would be charged in court with being found in possession of illicit liquor.

Mr Kimeyo said the brewing of chang'aa was rampant along the banks of River Tana.

"The brewers have established chang'aa dens on the banks of the river where they produce and sell the drink to their customers. They hide in these areas to avoid arrest," he said.

Mr Kimeyo said the police were enforcing the Alcoholic Drink Control Act and would continue with the crackdown until the illegal business which had rendered most youths unproductive and retarded development in the area was stamped out.

Mr Kimeyo said last week his officers impounded 600 litres of a popular brew known as makabo at Kimbimbi and Kiorugari villages and six brewers arrested.

The six were arraigned in court and fined between Sh10,000 and Sh20,000 after they admitted possessing illicit liquor.

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