10 February 2014
Last updated at 01:03
Across Kenya, traditionally brewed beer, known as busaa, is popular especially in poorer communities. On a hot Sunday afternoon, Nyaleko, one of main brewers in a village in the west of the country, passes out her busaa. She has been brewing for 50 years and “is extremely proud” of her product. (By Micah Albert)
Inside a drinking den in the village, a man puts down 100 Kenyan shillings (about $1.10, £0.70) on the table for cup of the brown porridge-like beer.
Members of this “drinking club” congregate in crowded mud hut on a Sunday afternoon. They are drinking both busaa and changaa, a locally brewed spirit distilled from grains like millet or maize. There have been deaths and blindness from drinking changaa, which is sometimes mixed with methanol or other chemicals.
Another village busaa brewer puts a fresh batch on a hot fire – most drinkers prefer to consume the beer warm. It is not illegal to make busaa, and it is brewed on site in the village, but the changaa is distilled in secret locations about an hour away and delivered in water cans.
Kenya’s government is set on preventing deaths from changaa by forcing backyard brewers into the open. A bill was passed in 2010 to regulate changaa production by legalising it, but requiring that it be commercially bottled and sold at licensed premises. Here a man illegally distils changaa in a slum in the capital, Nairobi, as he looks out the window for the potential arrival of police.
In one village home, a woman passes a plastic cup of busaa – it costs about 50 Kenyan shillings for this amount.
Late on a Sunday afternoon, a villager has passed out drunk in the shade of a neighbouring drinking den.
After an afternoon of drinking, a small group of men sit on a nearby hill and converse about the weekend.
Here an incredibly inebriated father in western Kenya shows me his daughter and asks me for money to help feed her. He says he spent all his money “on getting drunk”.
A short walk from the slum, where the bulk of the main home brewers live in the village, is a new legal establishment to sell spirits. But the owner of the business tells me that because of the high cost of the legal brew, only a few in this area “can afford to buy anything”.
At the end of the day, a few young village women walk into another brewer's den.
And at a nearby church, the main topic of prayers is asking deliverance from the drunkenness that has “consumed the village”.