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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.[2]

Illegally brewed changaa could be purchased for around US$0.15[3] 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][4] Drinkers have suffered blindness or death due to methanol poisoning.[3] 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.[5] 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.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d "African Moonshine: Kill Me Quickly". The Economist. 2010-04-29. Retrieved 2010-05-27. 
  2. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (2006-11-10). "Chased by Gang Violence, Residents Flee Kenyan Slum". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2014-08-14. 
  3. ^ a b Harding, Andrew (2002-09-20). "Life after dark in Nairobi's slum". BBC News. 
  4. ^ "Chang’aa - Jet fuel 'makes brew stronger'". News 24.com. April 14, 2005. Retrieved 9 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Kenya moves to end ban on changaa home brew". BBC News. 2010-02-10. 
  6. ^ "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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165 news items

The Economist

The Economist
Tue, 03 Nov 2015 08:32:42 -0800

Urbanisation, with its many benefits, also means more slum-dwellers living on chips, changaa and cigarettes, and getting less exercise. Still, people like Ms Magesa are learning how to cope with their conditions. That knowledge alone will help. She has ...

Clash Magazine

Clash Magazine
Mon, 10 Aug 2015 04:48:45 -0700

So when the band found themselves in an Air BNB in Kisumu, they decided to simply set up in the kitchen and begin recording. 'Changaa Attack' is an enthralling return, funky Afro-Futurism which is as cerebral as it is physical. Out on August 14th via ...

The Standard Digital News (satire) (press release) (registration) (blog)

The Standard Digital News (satire) (press release) (registration) (blog)
Sat, 21 Nov 2015 13:00:10 -0800

... you did a great job. Hold your head high. Shame on the women's organizations who did not back you You will bounce back in a bigger way. You resigned and not fired. Hey Raila finally won something bring out all the changaa Champaign and celebrate.


Thu, 12 Nov 2015 04:56:15 -0800

“Thank you very much for giving this information that lead us to arrest such criminals, we have arrested two men and destroyed over 1,200 litres of Changaa and the men we have arrested will help us in turning down all cartels,” the officer said ...


Wed, 27 Feb 2013 04:49:38 -0800

In the slums of Kenya, "changaa" is a popular alcoholic drink, and brewing the grog is a source of livelihood for many. Changaa, which literally means "kill me quickly", has a high alcohol content. But it's often adulterated with other more poisonous ...

BBC News

BBC News
Thu, 02 Sep 2010 06:17:17 -0700

Kenya's president has signed into law a bill which legalises the traditional home-brewed spirit changaa. The Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill is partly intended to stop people from dying after drinking adulterated moonshine. The BBC's Angela Ny'endo in ...

The Star

The Star
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 02:34:15 -0700

MORE than 100 GSU and police officers yesterday raided Mabatini in Mathare slum and confiscated 160,000 litres of kangara and 12,000 litres of chang'aa. Some 2,700kg of jaggery and 1,200 litres of busaa were also destroyed in the five-hour crackdown on ...

The Quietus

The Quietus
Mon, 07 Sep 2015 03:07:30 -0700

The influence of that night appears again in the form of lead single, 'Changaa Attack', where Nyamungu toasts and screams joyously over some of the most outright groovy percussion work from Owoko and Skinner, while a group of fisherman's children ...

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