If there is a man who can talk about alcoholism is Bonny Njoroge Kibe. Born in 1957, he started drinking alcohol as a hobby at the age of 18yrs and for the next 40 years, he became so addicted that at some point he drunk 24 bottles of beer daily for 12 years.
His grandfather is the man who introduced him to alcohol at a very young age. Whenever the grandfather used to host his friends for goat eating, he would prepare “muratina” and would give the young Njoroge a tot to test it.
Njoroge said it was normal in the area he grew up for some grandparents, to give young boys a sip to test before they drank it themselves and in most cases, they would never drink the alcohol if it wasn’t tested by a young boy.
We consulted the National Chairman of Kia Kia Ma Mr. Kigoci Wa Waimiri if the action of boys being used to test alcohol is part of Kikuyu culture. Mr. Kigoci told our reporter that the grandfather had failed by introducing alcohol to Njoroge at such a young age. He further said traditionally fathers would only allow the son to drink once he got married and the father had a choice to deny him. Njoroge grandfather passed away at the age in 1978. Njoroge’s father also used to prepare muratina for ceremonies but eventually stopped in 1969.
Njoroge said between 1957 and 1973, there was strict discipline in drinking alcohol and only the elderly used to drink alcohol during ceremonies and only occasionally and with a purpose. Bars were limited and they were strictly open between 4 pm and 11 pm. The bar owners used to follow the laws completely unlike today.
Bonny Started his education in 1966 and finished class 7 in 1973. He did not continue with education and shortly thereafter, he moved to Nairobi to try and make a living for himself. When he came to Nairobi, he joined a group of friends and they developed a drinking habit which started as a hobby and for him eventually ended up as an addiction. They used to drink every day after work and during the weekend.
In Nairobi, he worked as a freelance salesman selling hardware goods on 5% commission basis. In 1979 he joined up with one of his friends and started a hardware shop in Ongata Rongai. The future was looking bright for Njoroge. Unfortunately, within 4 yrs they had drunk the business and eventually terminated the partnership in early 1983. His partner continued with the business on his own as Njoroge pulled out. By then what had started as a hobby had developed into full-blown addiction and he had to drink daily to live. He said “I was a dead man living, I would realize I don’t have shoes only when it was raining”
He went back to selling hardware goods on commission basis until 1992. Life became difficult and he opted to return back to his village in Kandara. While there, he secured employment as a milk peddler for a private farm owner. He also did occasional construction and painting jobs. In 1996 he moved to Kitengela where he started a business of fitting windows, construction repairs and painting.
Business was good in Kitengela, unfortunately, the income he got pushed him deeper into alcoholism. He would drink alcohol in various bars on credit and for the next 12 years, he drunk 24 bottles of beer and smoked 2 packets of cigarettes daily. His drinking friends even nicknamed him “truly Kenyan” for his love of a popular Kenyan brand of beer.
What prompted him to change his drinking behavior?
The business was lucrative in Kitengela. His moment of change began after he secured a contract of fitting windows and painting a newly constructed mansion. He charged Sh280,000 as labor cost. The client paid a deposit of Sh178,000 and remained with a balance of Sh102,000. He completed the job in 9 days and was looking forward to making a clean Sh100,000 profit from the job.
After the client paid the balance of Sh102,000, he gave the site caretaker Sh2,000, paid Sh35,000 alcohol debt and drunk Sh5,000 worth of beer the same day. He went home with Sh60,000. He counted the money several times and realized how much money he had spent on alcohol.
That same evening he realized that if he didn’t stop drinking he would eventually die. He made a prayer to God and said “God help me reduce my drinking. If I can drink 2 beers and smoke 2 cigarettes daily, God I promise to follow you”. It took him 2 and a half years to stop drinking by gradually reducing the amount of alcohol he consumed daily.
Njoroge said “It was a daily struggle to stop drinking, sometimes the urge was too much, but I had made the decision to stop. By the grace of God, I won the battle”. His family took time to trust him but eventually they did. He is now a proud partner in a hardware business with his older brother in Ngong town. He also went back to school and graduated with a high national diploma in Christian Counseling and theological studies.
He got married in 1979 and divorced in 2010. He has two children and 5 grandchildren. Njoroge told our reporter “today I’m truly alcohol-free and truly Christian”. He is willing to offer advice and counseling services to anyone suffering from alcoholism, or to parents whose children are suffering from alcoholism.
You can contact Njoroge on mobile: 0700708945