Khat – A Tool for Socio-economic and Political Dependency.


Khat – popularly called Abyssinian tea, Arabic Salad, or Catha edulis – is a flowering evergreen shrub native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. When it is fresh, people chew it, and then retained it in the cheek and chew it intermittently to release the active drug. But they are sometimes dried in order to turn them to tea or a chewable paste. Some in fact smoke it or sometimes sprinkle it on food. For the past five decades, khat has become a very essential tool used by capitalists and politicians to steer the affairs of the masses most especially from the East African and Arabian parts of the world. As alcohol is a stain to the west, khat is a pain to the Muslim nation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), khat is an addictive drug that creates dependence in people. In some parts of the world where it is cultivated and legalized, both civilian and military use of khat has been blamed for stimulating civil war, draining the nation’s economy, and undermining international relief efforts. Institutes or organisations like the United States Drug Enforcement Administration condemn this type of drug as it has directly and indirectly damaged lives of some dwellers of the nation.

Recent findings also show that it is used to lower the need for food and sleep, decrease sexual desires, and increase aggression and suicidal depression. Some medical experts also say that khat increases blood pressure, heart rate, stomatitis, gastric disorder, and cardiac contractile force and positive inotropic and chronotropic actions in isolated atria of human body. Some experts in the area of health also say that khat causes anorexia, tachycardia, hypertension, insomnia and gastric disorders. This has caused damages to various homes and has aided rampant increase in gender inequity and domestic violence. A lot of children now suffer because of high rate of divorce or/and broken homes.

In Ethiopia and neighboring countries, it is commonly used in social gatherings just as alcohol consumption is used in the west. Funnily enough, it was reported that even during the last campaign in Somalia, against the use of Khat, some writers used it to help them prepare anti-Khat interesting articles.

Some reports also show that the Marxist government of South Yemen, in 1967, attempted to do away with Khat because of the laziness it allegedly inspired. There was much resistance to a total ban. Since prohibition was not feasible, the government placed a heavy tax on the narcotic. Generally, an increase in taxes is successful in reducing the use of such substances as nicotine, but surprisingly, the Yemenis paid these taxes and continued their habit! Khat is also cited as part of the problem for the economies of Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya and others countries in the Red Sea area, partly because, as statistics suggest, nearly every family spends one third of its disposable income on Khat – thereby making some men irresponsible to their family. Also, so economists argue that Khat damages the economy by the loss in production as a result of lethargy and skiving. Some khat-chewing workers go to lunch and engage in Khat sessions, and do not return to work losing significant working hours of the day. Hence, with khat, some nations have been perpetually suppressed as they are economically and politically managed through cognitive damaging and caging of the citizens.

To conclude, it is obvious that government of some of the affected nations have one time or another attempted banning khat but they failed. This is to show us that there is more to know about popularity of khat chewing most especially among the Muslim ummah. Who cultivate them? Why is it practically impossible to ban khat in some Muslim nations despite the fact that it is unislamic? Who are the economic benefactors of khat?  In fact, the assertion of a Somali activist, Ummulkhaer Abdillah about khat is unarguable. She describes them as leaves planted by Shaetan (the devil)  and his agents to feed men in order to behave worse than goats. Hence, it is very obvious that this is purely a capitalistic and political conspiracy game. The affected nations need to wake up from slumber before it will be too late.

Khat chewer
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