Bangi smoking in Kenya

"No ganja, no music"

With these words, Bob Marley left Nairobi as quick as he entered in 1978. After the friendly request to put out his joint, he cancelled his performance in Kenya and disappeared to Ethiopia

Illegal

With penalties up to ten years for one joint and twenty for two, trading and smoking of marijuana is strictly illegal in Kenya. This however doesn't stop smokers so you will find them everywhere. In Maweni Village, close to Mombasa the peeps smoke weed packed in brown paper rolls, calling it 'bangi'. One roll weighs about ten grams, including stalks, and costs around ten euro. But these boys are big users so they get a better price.

rasta on bus in Nairobi


Corrupt system

A corrupt system means a huge grey area so "when an agent catches us on the beach," Jackie (27) says, "he probably doesn't have enough cash for lunch. Then we just give him ten bucks and he will get some food." According to his nephew Gogo (32) the reaction of the police differs per area. While he hides his paper roll back into the hedge he says: "Here is a small Jamaica, it's peaceful. In Nairobi you're fucked when they bust you."

Cash-crop

Gogo explains how expensive jeeps drive from Kisumu to the coast every week, fully loaded with the paper rolls of green happiness. Kismu is about a seven hours ride from the capital Nairobi. The climate is cooler, so better for growing. Weed is the 'crash-cop' of the town. Plantations are called 'shamba's' , hectares of no-man's land surrounded by bush where growing is done in secret. Or they follow the well-known recipe of planting within cornfields.

Holiday

smoking bangi

Jackie [pictured right] continues: "The owners bribe the police for 400.000 shilling (a bit less than 4000 euro). The load itself has a street-value of five to ten million shilling (50.000 to 100.000 euro)." According to Gogo the largest load goes to the coast where they live: "people like to smoke at the ocean. Around here we say: everyday is a holiday." The now damping Jackie adds a shitload of wisdom to this statement: "enjoy nature, be a honest man, share with love". But mostly "barida poá" - cool, right?

Mediation

Jackie is a fisherman, he smokes and sleeps at sea till they bite. Then he and his friends work hard to bring in a marlin or white snapper. He smokes bangi to meditate: "I saw too much, people suffering, people dying, especially in the rural area. Six years ago we were starving here, there was no food. Smoking gives me peace of mind. We are rastas, everyday I pray to Jah and ask him to help all the people. Asanté sana (thank you so much)."

Author: Anki