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Changaa or Chang'aa (literal meaning "kill me quick"[1]) is an alcoholic drink which is popular in Kenya. Distilled from grains like millet, maize and sorghum, it is very potent. Its production and distribution is controlled in many cases by criminal gangs like the Mungiki. Gang violence in the Nairobi slum of Mathare escalated after local brewers asked another gang to intervene against the Mungiki when they increased their "tax" on the drink.[citation needed]

Illegally brewed changaa could be purchased for around US$0.15[2] to $0.25[1] per glass. The drink is sometimes adulterated by adding substances like jet fuel, embalming fluid or battery acid, which has the effect of giving the beverage more 'kick'.[1][3] Drinkers have suffered blindness or death due to methanol poisoning.[2] In Nairobi slums like Korogocho, the water used to make the drink is often contaminated with feces, and women's underwear along with decomposing dead rats have been found in the drink during police raids.[1]

The Kenyan government legalised the traditional home-brewed spirit in 2010, in an effort to take business away from establishments where toxic chemicals are added to the brew to make it stronger.[4] Under the new law, changaa must be manufactured, distributed and sold in glass bottles, and retailers must display health warning signs. Sale to individuals under age 18 is still prohibited, as is sale through automatic vending machines. Anyone making or selling adulterated changaa risks penalties of five million shillings, five years in jail, or both.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d "African Moonshine: Kill Me Quickly". The Economist. 2010-04-29. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  2. ^ a b Harding, Andrew (2002-09-20). "Life after dark in Nairobi's slum". BBC News. 
  3. ^ http://www.kutokanet.com/issues/alcohol_drugs/Changaa.htm>
  4. ^ "Kenya moves to end ban on changaa home brew". BBC News. 2010-02-10. 
  5. ^ "Chang'aa now legal but must be bottled". The Standard (Kenya). Retrieved 2010-10-03. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changaa — Please support Wikipedia.
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3 news items

The Standard Digital News
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 04:48:45 -0700

John Mututho explains how enforcement is a major challenge in fighting illicit brew John Mututho explains how enforcement is... Why changaa never used to kill people in the past until it was branded Why changaa never used to kill people in... John ...
The Star
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 07:37:30 -0700

Naivas Chairman Simon G. Mukuha opening a branch in Westlands at The Mall on March 2, 2013. Photo/Anna Bohlin. Naivas supermarkets chairman has told the High Court in Nakuru that his older brother was a chang'aa seller in Kitale town before he ...


Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:48:45 -0700

Among the dead were college and high school students, a banker and a provincial administrator. The deaths were the highest in Kenya since 2005 when 45 Kenyans died after drinking illegal brew named changaa or kumi kumi. By then, the wines and spirits ...

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