The overlooked boozers of Nairobi

I met this guy at a party. He looked about 45 years old. If driving a V8 is success, then he was successful.

I met this guy at a party. He looked about 45 years old. If driving a V8 is success, then he was successful.

I met this guy at a party. He looked about 45 years old. If driving a V8 is success, then he was successful. I found myself walking with him to the venue of the brunch party.

Without much prompting, he told me – a complete stranger – a history of his past three days binge drinking. How he and his mates had drunk all Friday before jumping in cars and driving to Nairobi and getting to the venue of a birthday party at midnight and continuing with the drinking until shortly before dawn.

He took a small nap and now he was going to have a bite and then drive to Nairobi whereupon he and his friends would drink again because he had two “18-year-olds” that needed to be polished off.

I remember asking him if he will function at work on Monday and he said he’s used to it.


At brunch, most of the guests had hard liquor in their hands. This was at 11am. Others stumbled blind drunk to the tent, with their peers cheering them on. Welcome to 2015 where you are declared a hero if you can drink more than anyone else and stay drunk longer than anyone else.

The stories around the table were mostly of debauchery: How so and so “chewed” yesterday. (FYI: If you are 90 years old, to “chew” is to blackout after excessive drinking).

There was talk of the number of bottles of cognac that were downed. Men and women celebrated booze. Lunch was, naturally, liquid. Men and women made plans to go drink after the brunch. And it was Sunday!

These weren’t some 25-year-olds out on a bender. These were chaps over 35, most in their 40s. Guys with bagfuls of cash; guys for whom money isn’t quite a problem, or at least money for buying expensive drinks by the bottle.

Sitting there, I could tell that their camaraderie was founded on epicurean hedonism, this herd-like drive to show how much one has, how much fun one can have, how many expensive drinks one can drink before their eyes roll over.

You could tell the poor sods who were struggling to fit into this group even though they looked like the life of the party. They were the loudest, the flashiest and the most boorish. They were also the guys with new money; in fact, all the money there was new money.


Tell you what, you think a politician’s singing is dreadful? Nothing is as dreadful as a 40-year-old trying to fit in. Actually, it’s tragic. It’s tragic that now we have come to a point where old chaps glorify alcohol.

This point where we think drinking the most makes you a legend. Binge drinking has become cool. And it’s completely sad when a 45-year-old man’s opening line is, “You guy, si jana we were wasted!”

Most people will dismiss this new wave of hedonism as mid-life crisis. In fact, nowadays most things will be excused as mid-life crisis. If you run off with a much older woman at 29, some will say you are going through a crisis; if you buy a flashy car you can’t afford at 35, you are going through a crisis.

If you wear a metal-plated cap… no, that’s not even a crisis, that’s a crime! Are we blaming mid-life crisis for everything because we don’t know which box it all goes into?

A bunch of 40-year-olds, in polo shirts with collars getting wrecked on booze for days on end, every week, isn’t mid-life crisis. It’s an alcoholic problem. And a bad one, at that.

It’s easy to think that it’s only a problem if it involves cheap but potent “second generation” alcohol and we can burn down those grubby kiosks selling that stuff, and take videos to show how communities are rising up against alcohol abuse. But then on the other side, there are many other alcoholics out there; a different kind of alcoholics.

Chaps who dress well and can easily afford to blow 100k on alcohol in a weekend. Men who seem to function on alcohol, respected professionals with saggy faces, baggy eyes, tired from bingeing and bottomless accounts to support these lifestyles.

If you can drink until 4am and then when wake up at 11am and pour yourself some more whisky before you even have breakfast then you have a problem with alcohol. You don’t need a degree in human psychology to know that.

Alcoholics, I’m starting to realise, aren’t only skinny chaps with shredded clothing, lying comatose in ditches or singing loudly on their way home. There are more alcoholics who live amongst us; they are our pals, we drink with them; they are our neighbours and colleagues.

They have jobs and hold respectable positions in life. They dress well during the week and fuel V-Power in their luxury cars. They use chopsticks. They have impressive frequent flyer miles. They smell good. They speak eloquently. They are smart and educated.

They look put together on the outside, but inside they are a mess. And even though they are part of the “cool group”, they are the loneliest people you will ever meet. Men and women on the run, running from themselves.



%d bloggers like this: