Where is Khat Taking Ethiopia? (Seble Teweldebirhan)
Khat chewing is not as simple as taking a sip of drug or smoking. For many it needs a lot of decorated space, inviting friends, traditional coffee ceremony, and takes at least a couple of hours. For the dependants, most of their afternoon every single day is consumed by the ceremony. There are also many who believe that, after khat, it is crucial to take alcohol, to break the hallucinated state of mind (known as Merkana). Therefore, khat makes the chewers busy not only in the afternoon but also in most of the evening. Moreover, the reality is that, come next day, all of this starts all over again.
‘It is making the generation dysfunctional’ said Amanuel, who did a research on the socioeconomic effect of khat. ‘Look at the university students. Just a decade back, the most active citizens in the country, who are the source of inspiration for the nation, were university students. Now, you don’t even see them around the campus all afternoon, and that is a lot of time wasted sitting and chewing khat’ he says.
Government is being criticized for its negligence on the issue, and there are even some who argue that the silence is deliberate. ‘It’s not only the foreign currency from the export that makes this government quiet about this phenomenon,’’ said Amanuel. ‘Khat makes people very passive. It just makes them fanaticize, imagine and talk about what changes they would want to see in their lives and in every sector and there is never enough time for them to turn any of this talk into action. Most chewers will just sit to talk about the same thing day after day. There is a lot of politics talk and argument that sometimes sounds logical and creative in chat chewing ceremony. You hear people not only complaining but also coming up with ideas to turn things around. However, they will just talk in the khat ceremony every afternoon for the rest of their lives and there will never be time to do anything about it. That is just perfect for any government that is afraid of what its citizen could do,’ he says. Read More