Somaliland:A Perilous Plague without Bridle

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KHAT1IT IS SIGNIFICANTLY understandable that the backwardness of a country always depends on the percentage of illiteracy. Unlike this phenomenon, there are other factors that contribute to the backwardness. Coming to the point, close and concise, let me clear one of the most dangerous drugs ever confirmed. Simply naming, it is Qat.

Qat is prevalent in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen, Djibouti, Somalia, and Somaliland. It is a fresh leaf and flower buds that are chewed, to keep its use in fresh; it is localized to the immediate areas of production although in recent years Qat trade has also spread to Europe and America. Qat is chewed at social gatherings; at homes, business and political discussions, usually after midafternoon lunch. But some people also eat in the morning time (Jibbane) and late in the night (Biyoraacis).

The flower buds of the tree contain a substance which is mildly stimulating, anorexigenic and if used excessively affects the judgment and self-control, suppresses eating and sexual desire. It is responsible for loss of desire to work and unproductive behavior. The stimulant also affects wear off by bedtime. It is an intoxicant that clouds, obscures or veils consciousness.

Qat is the most important cause of broken bones and broken homes. In Qat munching memory deteriorates, personality degenerates and character disintegrates. Qat like other intoxicants offers an escape from problems and worries to begin with, but ends up by multiplying them and crushes rather than relieves the sufferer. The Qat eater seeks to drown in his sorrows in the hope of enjoying an imaginary paradise where his burdens will roll away in the brief span of murqan time (stupor).

Qat is a well-known thief. It takes away cash from families, childhood happiness from abused children, and chastity from young women, and reasoning from the educated, productivity from the working class. Qat is the gateway drug to alcohol, wine and all other evil habits.

Qat soon overcomes the strongest man and turns him into a raging beast that threatens those around him and insults imaginary enemies. In the Mental hospitalone of two patients occupies a bed because of Qat related problems, while in the street, one out of every five persons has problems because either he eats Qat or because one of his children or one of his relatives eats it. Qat causes 3 out of 4 cases of robbery with violence and one in 2 cases of family quarrels and brawls. It is also the cause of many cases of child abuse, divorce head injuries etc. Short note as to where and how Qat chewing may begin and continue throughout life.

  1. The mother who eats Qat. It begins in the womb for no fault of the fetus and the poor unborn child in the womb gets the first taste of it. The baby may born with congenital abnormalities.
  2. Soon after birth, although Qat gets into milk in small quantities, it has been shown that even these small amount affect the milk’s odor in such a way that babies don’t like, they suck more frequently but consume substantially less milk when it contains Qat substance.
  3. The child grows up with the first attack of fever or influenza, the parent gives the child a shot of [the] drug.
  4. When the child comes back from school, on the street, (a. He sees Qat leaves outnumbering food and vegetables and selling everywhere. (b. He sees young characters eager to start eating Qat. (c. He sees older people resembling his parents, teachers and elders who grab bunches of Qat before going to lunch.
  5. At home when parents, uncles with their friends/ guests eating Qat, the children once again are exposed to this influence and grow up with double standards.
  6. He goes to a wedding reception; imagine the Sheikh comes and performs the marriage ceremony according to strict, very strict Islamic rites. As soon as the Sheikh is hustled out of the function, the parents and the guests start eating Qat, and take the pride in eating more and more Qat.
  7. The company of friends who eats Qat is also a strong influential factor in causing one to become the same as his friends. The daily worker squanders his wages at the nearest majlis on his way home after the day’s work where the day’s pay may be frittered away with Qat in the same day.
  8. Finally a time comes that such a person takes Qat as a mere time passing, or as an escape from some little anxiety and frustration, but at last it leads him to lose his house, his properties, his job and he may take to the streets as one of the homeless alcoholics. The effects of Qat on the body Qat is primarily a depressant for the central nervous system and hence should be classified as a mind-altering drug. One may argue that Qat is a stimulant and not a depressant because a person starts to move and walk faster immediately when he eats Qat. I say this is because of its depressing effect and not because of its stimulating effect. Qat depresses the inhibitory centers in the brain. Our finer qualities are judgments, social limitations and shyness, talking only when necessary, self-control. These are the qualities that distinguish a human being from lower animals, and these qualities are first to be depressed, and hence the person who eats Qat reverts to more primitive behavior, becomes garrulous and talkative, judgment is impaired, thereby causing easy to lose temper, car and other accidents, unjustifiable behavior and wrong decisions.

By Gulaid Dalha – adapted from his book , “ The Rapid Gained Experience.”

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