The culture or act of chewing miraa has not only been in Kibera but the entire country for quite sometime, this can be witnessed by the youth around the City. When you take a walk around the slums of Nairobi during the weekend you will not fail to notice the youth as young as 15 years old chewing miraa. Age is not a limit because you will not be shocked to see even the old in their 50s chewing miraa which is also known as ‘Khat’.
Miraa(Khat) according to wikipedia is a flowering plant native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Penisula which contains monoamine alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which can cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria.
Miraa which is illegal in many countries in the world including Germany, France and Tanzania, but it is accepted in some countries like Yemen, UK and the other East African countries. Research by The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) claim there is no sufficient evidence that the use of Khat causes health problems.
In Kibera it is an act which begins to be practised at an early age. Youths around begin chewing Miraa due to peer pressure because their collegues are also doing so.
“Miraa leads to increased energy levels, alertness and confidence”, says Shadick Juma a matatu driver along Kibera number 8 route. Many of the Matatu and long distance drivers use this drug due to its alertness and lack of sleep while working.
Effects of Miraa Chewing.
- Causes excitement
- Loss of Appetite
- Causes Euphoria
- Lack of Sleep
- Spend of money
- Just like any other drug it is addictive to the user
However excessive use of this drug has side effects such as insomnia. Other causes are it can lead to impotence and oral cancer which can occur but at a very minimal chance.