1,000 Kenyan Kids Arrested for Underage Drinking

1,000 Kenyan Kids Arrested for Underage Drinking

By McCarton Ackerman 07/09/13

Cops pull masses of unattended schoolchildren from bars during a teacher's strike in Nairobi.

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The children were herded into a lorry.
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In Kenya's capital of Nairobi, 1,000 kids were arrested for underage drinking over the weekend in the midst of an ongoing teachers' strike. Nairobi police launched the raid on "reggae music discotheques" and police chief Patrick Oduma confirmed that bar operators were also arrested. He says 116 children have remained in custody, but the rest were released because there weren't enough prison cells to hold them. "They were busy dancing and some taking alcohol, smoking bhang [cannabis] and cigarettes, which is wrong,” says Oduma. “We intend to charge the operators of [bars] where these children were arrested and even apply for the cancellation of their licenses.” Many of the detained children, some of whom were still drunk and high, reportedly shouted and laughed as they were escorted to court by police. Some Kenyan officials are blaming the government for the arrests, since its failure to resolve the strikes has left the kids unattended. "It is the government which should be blamed for not being keen to resolve the teachers strike," says Musau Ndunda, Secretary General of the Kenya National Association of Parents. "Instead of playing politics, why not pay the teachers and they will go back to class and our children will definitely stream back to school." Addiction and underage drinking have been called a "national scourge" in Kenya, where one half of all alcohol and drug abusers are reportedly between the ages of 10-19. One factor exacerbating the crisis is widespread access to toxic, home-made "chang’aa" which translates to "kill me quick" and contains methanol.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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