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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. 

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6 news items

The Standard Digital News

The Standard Digital News
Sun, 10 Aug 2014 12:41:15 -0700

I think nothing illustrates how far we come as nation as the first legal changaa distillery in Nakuru county. And more to be legalised. Legal and changaa, were not words that could be lined up in the same sentence. The term "changaa" was always ...
The Star
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 00:07:18 -0700

THE Kakamega county assembly has passed a bill that outlaws chang'aa brewing and consumption. In April the assembly sought to legalise chang'aa by passing the County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act but Governor Wycliffe Oparanya declined to sign the bill ...
The Standard Digital News
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 02:07:45 -0700

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The Star
Sat, 09 Aug 2014 00:30:00 -0700

A 24-year-old woman collapsed after taking a sip of chang'aa from a local seller. Scovia Nyabwire is a milk seller at Bunyala subcounty. Sources said the seller, Nabwire Odwori, wanted to gauge the alcohol content before she can sell it to her customers.
The Standard Digital News
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 05:30:24 -0700

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Tue, 05 Aug 2014 02:25:36 -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 ...

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