TALES OF COURAGE: How I broke the yoke of drug addiction 

Friday June 2 2017

My name is Stanley Kariuki Njeri. I am 23 and a

My name is Stanley Kariuki Njeri. I am 23 and a DJ with Dohty Family, which does the jam rock show on NTV. PHOTO| WILLIAM OERI 

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My name is Stanley Kariuki Njeri. I am 23 and a DJ with Dohty Family, which does the "Jamrock" show on NTV. My affair with drugs began way back in 2007, while in Standard Six at Kamuguga Primary School, Kiambaa. One day, on my way from school, I found a drunk man sleeping on the ground. I ransacked his pockets and found two Flying Horse alcohol sachets. I hid in the bushes and emptied them in my mouth. It felt good and I later walked home excited. My mother and grandmother couldn’t tell I was drunk. I mean, how could they even have suspected?


My mother worked as a casual labourer on neighbouring farms. I used to steal money from her bag to buy the alcohol sachets. When I was in Standard Seven, I remember a man in the village called me to help him move some items in his house. It was raining and after we were done, he gave me a cigarette to smoke, saying itakupatia joto (it will warm you up). From then on, whenever I saw someone smoking, I would wait until they dropped the filter, then I would pick it up.

I started buying cigarettes, then graduated to bhang, tobacco and miraa. This forced me to steal money from my teachers’ bags, and when confronted, I would deny it vehemently. This was very stressful to my mother, who is epileptic. She would get seizures and I felt bad about it. But I did not stop stealing, because it was the only way I could fund my addiction.


This went on for a long time and I hated my life. One morning in 2010, I bought a popular rat-killer powder, RedCat and, mixed it with water and drank it. I wanted to die. I locked the door and slept. I later woke up in the afternoon to find that I was still alive and had only vomited a yellow substance. I still struggled with the urge to abuse drugs even when I joined Nderi Secondary School, Kiambu, in 2011. 


In third term, I was expelled because of drug abuse. With this, my relationship with my mother deteriorated. I was still not happy with the kind of life I was living. 

I had not succeeded in taking my life so I decided to run away from home. Armed with Sh300 that I had stolen from my mother, I walked from home up to the Nairobi Sports Club grounds. For one week, I slept in that field. The money ran out eventually. Then the police came and arrested me along with other street people. I was taken to the Kamukunji police station and since I was underage, I was put in a secluded room.


In the morning, a social worker called Rose came and spoke to me. I gave her my mother’s contact and told her I wanted to go home. Rose gave me some fare and on getting home, my mother told me that I had to go back to school, but one far from home to avoid gossip from villagers because of the kind of the notoriety I had acquired. But I wanted a school close to home and she eventually agreed. So I went to the neighbouring Muguga wa Gatonye Secondary School and informed the principal that I wanted to join the school. She instructed that I come with my parent.

A few days later, she admitted me. Since my former school was not very far, she investigated my drug addiction and kept a close eye on me. I tried to keep off drugs for the entire 2011, until one morning while in Form Two. I went into class for preps and found another boy, who informed me, “Niko na mzigo” (I have the drugs). I was trying to abstain. Then he insisted he had ‘kuben’ (tobacco), which I took, put some in my mouth and gave the rest back to him.


When the other boys came, he gave them kuben too and they took turns going to the toilets to take it. The deputy headteacher got a tip about the tobacco and confronted all the boys. They revealed how they had taken it in turns one after the other. Fortunately, no one mentioned me, since I had given the bulk of it back to the ‘seller’. They were all expelled.

This was my turning point. I told myself that I had to stop. I decided to keep tea by my side to sip whenever I had a craving for tobacco. At break time, I would fetch tea in a bottle and put it in my locker. Then I would sip it throughout the day. This kept off the urge somehow.

Whenever I was idle, I used to think of drugs, especially between 1.30pm and 2pm. So, I joined the Red Cross club so that I could keep myself busy with activities. I later revived the peer education club that had previously died. The patrons, Mrs Kimani and Mrs Rahab Ndolo, believed in me and I became the chairperson. We handled topics such as drug abuse, conflicts and irresponsible sexual behaviour. Many other students came to confess having been hooked to drugs and I shared with them my past and my path to recovery. A few of them have stayed in touch with me.

In 2014, I sat for my KCSE examinations. Ever since then, I have been volunteering with different groups. But I hadn’t come across people focusing primarily on street children. That is why I mobilised youths that I had met online. In 2016, the 15 of us came up with the group, Impartial Crew, which conducts feeding and mentorship programmes that help street children to stop taking drugs.

Quitting drugs changed my face in the community. It is the best decision I ever made. I believe that I have a greater responsibility to get youth off this yoke. If I had had someone preaching to me how I could kick the drug habit, I would have stopped a long time ago. There are many teenagers who have various addictions and I try to show them how they can unhook themselves. I have found my purpose. My bigger dream is to be the best DJ in Africa and to inspire other young people to find their purpose. My mother and my grandmother have been my pillars of support.


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