To many beer drinkers, a world without alcoholic beverages and any other substance that can pollute the mind would be very boring. To them, anything exciting comes through the consumption of intoxicating waters. The other day my crèche-going grandson asked me why I always drink. Of course he was not referring to ordinary water; he meant the nectar from the brown or green bottles — alcoholic beverages.
laughing it off with Blaah Dhee
Frankly speaking, I was caught off-guard as I never expected such a question from him and as such, I failed to come up with a precise answer. However, as his sekuru (grandfather), my answer was more than satisfactory to him. Sekuru has all the answers to the numerous questions he might conjure up. Flimsy as my answer might have been, he still accepted my explanation.
How many of us drinkers really know why we partake in alcoholic beverages? If a survey was to be carried out to establish why people drink beer, the outcome would show varying reasons.
Maybe many would say alcohol helps them to forget their problems for a moment and in the process gives them peace of mind. But we all know what the learned always say about alcohol — instead of solving problems, it multiplies them. The truth of the matter is that very few of us who partake in alcoholic beverages know the reason why we drink.
For all I know, we drink for joy and end up miserable. Others drink for sociability and become argumentative. Then there are some who drink to help themselves sleep, but wake up exhausted.
As usual, I took the question to my folks at the watering hole just to get an insight into alcohol consumption from the real imbibers.Unfortunately, as expected, none of them was forthcoming with a plausible or definite reason. As I continued pestering them, our discussion spilled into another rarely discussed subject — mbanje (marijuana, ganja, weed or cannabis) smoking.
Having smoked the drug for the better part of his youth, the Regular (whom I recently discovered is of the Mhofu totem — I call him Museyamwa) had some interesting things to tell about mbanje. He told us that he just found himself taking the drug simply because his peers said it was cool.
But even today, years after kicking away the habit — he still does not know why people smoke weed.However, what he is certain about is that the mbanje that is being smoked nowadays is a far cry from what was there long back in the days when mbanje was real mbanje. The “grades” then were of high quality, just a pinch of the stuff could keep you high for the whole day.
Museyamwa wonders if the drug would have been considered dangerous and deemed illegal then, had it been as weak as most of the grades peddled in the ghettos. He recalls vividly the first time he experimented with the drug when he was herding cattle at his rural home, kumusha.
It was at a time when most youths of his age were experimenting with various intoxicants that included the Flame Lily bulb, better known as mudzepete. It was common to find all the herd boys senselessly high. The only challenge was to know what they would have taken owing to the availability of various intoxicants.
Museyamwa told us that his uncle who had just returned from Wenela (some mining fields in South Africa that were popular with black Rhodesians then) came back with a grade of mbanje which he referred to as Malawian Gold from St John.
Whatever that was supposed to mean or do to the mbanje was irrelevant to Museyamwa and his peers. But out of curiosity, he stole a little of the stuff to go and share with his closest friend. While out in the fields herding cattle, they rolled a joint of the stuff and sat down to smoke.
Unlike the stuff they were used to, a few puffs of this Malawian Gold changed their world — they were in a delirium. Suddenly everything looked and felt different, especially their surroundings. The colours, the atmosphere and even the sky had assumed a funny unfamiliar colour. Their voices sounded funny, which made them laugh at themselves uncontrollably.
They lost count of time and could not agree on what time of the day it was. Looking up into the sky they saw the moon. You know there are times when you can actually see the moon and the sun during the day. That further confused them. One was saying it couldn’t be the moon since it was daylight, which meant it was the sun. Museyamwa was adamant it was the moon.
They just could not seem to agree. As they continued arguing, along came a lone youth, just of their age. The two “stoned” friends thought the lone stranger could assist resolve their argument by telling them whether what the two were arguing about was the sun or the moon.
The youth on being asked, looked up into the sky then at his surroundings as if looking for an answer and then said, “Aa-a manje ini handigari kuno saka handizivi kuti uyo mwedzi here kana kuti izuva, dai matobvunza vanogara kuno [The problem is I don’t live in this area, so I can’t tell whether that is the moon or the sun. Maybe if you ask those who live in this area, they can help you.]”