News

Photos: East Africa's Controversial 'Drug'


Khat like many street drugs has a variation of names, and in Nairobi it is generally known as miraa (mi~rah) or ngomba (ngo~mba). In Kenya the leaf is legal and is readily available. It stimulates the user with a feeling of alertness and well-being. Some have described it as a feeling similar to that of coffee and others more to cocaine. Khat comes from the leaves and stems of a shrub and is delivered to waiting city vendors on speeding pick up trucks. The vendors sell their products from vibanda (vee~banda) or kiosks that advertise their products through paintings. Even though the substance brings in millions worth of revenue, mainly to farming cartels, khat remains untaxed by the Kenyan government. Kenya and Ethiopia rely on Khat as a major crop to fortify their economies and in the latter country it is said to be the second largest export behind coffee.

Also known as “African Salad,” miraa is traditionally shunned by upper levels of society though today users are found across the board. In Kenya half a kilo or a kilo of the shrub may be sold from as little as $4 to as much as $30 during the dry season or a drought. Social repercussions arise when the bread winner of a house spends their earnings on the shrub. The USA has seen operations such as “Operation Somali Express” cracking down on imports of the drug from the horn of Africa. The slideshow below chronicles Khat on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya by KuFocus Photography.

Interview

Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.

A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

The 10 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Wizkid, Alicia Keys x Diamond Platnumz, Manu WorldStar, Maya Amolo, La Dame Blanche and more.