This article examines the harmful effects of drinking chang’aa, an illegal spirit produced locally, in Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. The negative impact of chang’aa on the community’s physical, social and economic life is traced, in part, to contemporary changes in consumption patterns as well as the production of chang’aa during the late 1990s. This article also analyzes the efforts of a local Catholic parish to launch a campaign to raise awareness on the dangers of chang’aa and to lobby the government to enforce its ban on the sale and use of the illicit brew. The parish was limited in its efforts primarily due to fears of violent reprisal by local government officials and chang’aa sellers who profited from the illegal, but lucrative trade.
Key Words: Chang’aa, Kibera, Kenya, traditional drinks, spirits, alcohol