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East African Standard, Nairobi, 13 May 2014

Rift Valley

Village where 20 strokes of cane are used to fight illicit beer menace

By Kiprono Ericson

Nakuru, Kenya: You risk being whipped 20 lashes if you are caught selling or partaking illicit brew at villages in Kuresoi Sub-County.

Elders in the region have endorsed public flogging as a sanction to stamp out illicit liquor menace. This comes in the wake of rising death toll from the consumption of illicit brew in five counties during the last few days.

Drunkard helped by police officer
A drunkard is helped by a police officer. [Photo: Collins Kweyu/Standard]

The elders have appointed a disciplinary committee that prosecutes misconduct complaints among the locals.

The villagers passed a verdict of 20 strokes of the cane for men who defied the disciplinary committee orders.

Cheptobon is a little known village in Nakuru County, but the determination of its residents to deal with their socio-economic problems has drawn much attention from without its borders.

Despite the poverty that is evident as one visits the region, the residents are determined to live in dignity.

"We have come together to seek solutions to our many problems," says Peter Rotich, a village elder.

He discloses that the village had for long been associated with chang'aa brewing, drunkenness and that violence against women has been the norm.

Worse still, children have not been left behind. Most of them have continued to drop out of school in large numbers to engage in petty theft. Others have been moving to the neighbouring districts in search of jobs so as to fend for their families and themselves.

Rotich said something had to be done to reverse the situation because the Provincial Administration in the area was colluding with the brewers in the manufacture of the illicit brew.

"We brought our people together to talk about how we could redeem ourselves," says Rotich.

They identified chang'aa drinking and domestic violence as their key enemies to deal with the problem of families breaking up and children dropping out of school.

More punishment

The first step, he said, was to try and stamp out the consumption of the illicit liquor by forming a disciplinary committee that would oversee the implementation of the orders set out by the committee.


One striking feature of the village now is that no idler can be seen loitering aimlessly in the village. A man who fails to provide for his family or share domestic responsibilities with his wife is brought before the disciplinary committee appointed by the villagers and if the offender defies the orders, the 20 strokes of the cane are administered.

In addition to the corporal punishment, the offender is made to lie on prickly wild leaves commonly known as Isyek, that causes serious skin irritation.

"Now our women are fully protected and our children have ample time to do their homework in a peaceful environment unlike in the past," says Philip Korir, a teacher from the village.

The villagers have gone a step further to form an association that addresses their common problems. Education is the main agenda for the Cheptobon Community Welfare Association. Needy children are helped to attain formal education in secondary schools and technical institutions.

Every household contributes Sh300 monthly to the association, which goes towards school fees, purchasing uniforms and lunch for those in day schools.

"There is no single child in the village who has a good reason to be out of school as the community caters for all their academic needs," said Alfred Koros, the patron of the association.

He said they do not allow any child to stay at home as those with financial difficulties are assisted through the association.

With all these initiatives, it is no wonder that the people of Cheptobon are today an optimistic lot.

"We have finally found answers to our problems and we are laying a firm foundation for our children," says David Chepkwony, a resident.

Copyright 2014 The Standard Group.

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