LAST week, whilst visiting my friend, I saw my nieces had invited friends over and they were coolly sitting in the garden and having a Shisha party while my friend was sipping a drink and watching football.
The tranquil scene incensed me and nauseated me with rage. I wanted to smash the Shisha in the boys’ faces and throttle them with the pipes. I wanted to whip my nieces and slap my friend. But before protective anger overwhelmed me, I realised the scene before me was one of ignorance. Ignorance that Shisha is not style or cool but is an addictive killer slowly taking over our society and children.
Shisha is sweetened tobacco filtered through water. It causes mouth cancer, lung cancer, throat cancer, and bloated heart. Smoking Shisha for one hour is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes.
What most parents don’t realise is that Lusaka is one of the highest drug cities in Africa. You can get cocaine, crack, weed, nyaope, mandrax, meths or heroin on the streets and, especially in the clubs. Date rape drugs are plenty and slipped into drinks in clubs. Your daughter can be raped and not remember a thing.
One of the most fearful drugs in the world called ‘Zombie drug’ is already in Lusaka because it is already in South Africa.
The foundation of drug taking is the innocent, beautifully cool-looking Shisha smoking pipe. That’s where it starts. You can smoke anything using Shisha.
I am amazed to see our young people drink Hennessy, Moët, Double Black and even 25-year Green Label JW like water. You find young ladies quaffing whiskey more than men. How can you even afford drinks like these in these hard times?
You find young people kudonsa Shisha monga akulya Poppico…eish.
As a society, we are on the cusp of social meltdown if we do not address the scourge of addiction. Parents, don’t be too liberal and dismissive of your children’s anti-social behaviour for the sake of modernity. Make your homes ‘smoke-free’ zones, Shisha or no Shisha.
Talk to them about how much you care and love them. Children, whether you are five years or 40, your parents’ love and care will never change. The worst pain a parent feels is when they ask… “Where did we go wrong…?”
We must be serious about this drug problem. We must invest in drug addiction rehabilitation centres, but importantly, we must have preventative programmes in our communities.
My son, Sungani, not so long ago, said to me “…Dad, it’s not so much. What drugs are in Lusaka? There is everything, but what you should ask is, Who is not taking them?”
It left a chill up my spine.
The author is a civic leader and entrepreneur, and also former Lusaka mayor.