Women under the aegis of Catholic Women Organisation (CWO), St. Anthony Parish, Nguru, in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, recently staged a protest against the sale and consumption of local gin, popularly known as Ogogoro or kaikai in their community.
They alleged that the substance had rendered their men useless to the extent of abdicating their responsibility as breadwinners of their families.
The women complained that if the consumption of the substance was left unchecked, the biblical injunction: “Go and procreate and fill the earth,” would soon come under serious threat because the substance had rendered many of their men impotent. Those who had not completely become impotent, the women alleged, were knocking on the door of impotency, as many of them hardly meet up with their conjugal duties.
According to the women, their husbands no longer warm their beds at night. “After drinking kaikai, they would come home and lie down like logs of wood. They would snore till the next day. They can no longer have sex with their wives because their organs are almost dead. How do we procreate under that situation? That is why we are crying out to the world,” the women said, through their spokesperson, as they carried fresh green leaves around the community.
The women, who were dressed in Catholic Christian Mothers’ uniform, moved from hamlet to hamlet, chanting a dirge for kaikai and its sellers. When they got to any shop suspected to be selling the substance, they would drop fresh green leaves and chant before proceeding to the next shop.
They sang such songs as, “kaikai has made men to build houses and sleep in the bush; kaikai has made men to marry and not bear children. Kaikai has made men to be lazy; kaikai has made men to see women and not have appetite for them.”
They carried flags bearing such inscriptions as: “Kaikai affects the reproductive system of a man”, “CWO says no to illicit gins – top squad, KP, kaikai etc.” “We don’t want illicit gin in Nguru community, It causes more harm than good”; “Top squad, kaikai has made our youth to be weak and sick”; “It leads to premature death”; “Kaikai has made our youth to be lazy” and “Kaikai kills, say no to it,” among others.”
Most shop owners, who sell the substance, closed their shops and disappeared for fear of what the women could do. When our correspondent approached the leader of the women group, Mrs. Theodora Eze, she captured their ordeal thus: “We are protesting because kaikai has finished us in this community. In Nguru community, kaikai has snatched our men and youths from us. Early in the morning every day, the young boys, instead of looking for what to do, will sit comfortably and drink themselves to stupor at kaikai joints, which are scattered everywhere in this community. After drinking, the person will become useless throughout the day. Those who are married among them cannot even feed themselves, not to talk of their wives and children. Our women have suddenly become the breadwinners simply because of kaikai. Our suffering is overweighing us; the burden of solely catering for our families’ needs is becoming too much on us. That is why we are crying to high heavens against this scourge.”
To show that they meant business, they have also promulgated a law, which took effect from April 1. According to the law, anybody found to be selling or drinking the substance within Nguru community would be liable to a fine of N20, 000. The women were said to enjoy the support of the Nsukka Police Area Commander, the Nsukka Divisional Police Officer (DPO), the Umuada organisation, the youth association, the entire women of the community as well as the Parish Priest of St Anthony Catholic Church, Nguru
“We have proclaimed a law that anybody found selling or consuming ogogoro from April 1, will have the women to contend with. The Nsukka Police Area Commander is aware of what we are doing. The DPO is aware, the Umuada in our community, who act as lawmakers, are aware; the titled men in the community also have our support, the Nguru Youth Association is in support, the Catholic Women Organisation of St. Thomas, Nguru, as well as the parish priest, are all in support of this protest. We are strongly crying against this evil,” Mrs. Eze said.
Tracing the genesis of kaikai consumption in Nguru, Eze said: “It is laziness and joblessness. There is no job created by the government and they don’t even want to help themselves. That is what we have found as responsible. Both the educated and uneducated are involved in this mess.”
Throwing more light on the negative effect of the illicit gin on their men and why they have decided to take up the gauntlet, she said: “The height of this madness is that our men can no longer impregnate their wives. Apart from not being able to satisfy their wives sexually, they have degenerated to a level where they cannot impregnate their wives again. It has rendered many of them impotent. It will lead to serious population decrease and possible extinction of the community if a serious measure, such as the one we are embarking on, is not taken against the scourge. This protest is against the sellers and buyers as well and the punishment for its breach is N20, 000, so we can use it to develop Nguru community.”
When the Parish Priest, Rev Fr Livinus Nnaji, was approached for his comment, he described what the women were doing as historic. He corroborated what the women said about the negative effects of ogogoro.
“I think the CWO, St. Anthony Parish, Nguru is making history today. I say so because that is the first time it is happening here in Nguru. Women generally, are the correctors of evil; they come in when things are going wrong. Kaikai is actually out to destroy the entire community. Both boys and girls, young and old are involved in this mess. The women, seen as the light of the nation have seen this evil and decided to take up arms against it, crying and asking the sellers and consumers to desist from the evil. They are calling on sellers particularly, because once they stop selling; people will stop consuming because you can only consume what is available. The women are doing a nice job,” he argued.
Speaking on the possibility of legislating against the substance beyond Nguru, Fr Nnaji said: “If our government can take interest in it, it can be stopped from the source. They can also ban people from selling it and that will automatically bring to an end the consumption of the substance.”
On whether the Catholic Church would be interested in pursuing the legislation of such law, the cleric also said: “Yes, the church is already doing that and that is why the CWO of St. Anthony, Nguru is leading the demonstration against the scourge. And it has happened in so many places. The people of Ohum Orba, in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State, did it two years ago and since then, order has returned to that community. The youth of that community are beginning to regain their senses and do something meaningful with their lives. Anybody taking kaikai is like somebody attempting to commit suicide.”
Ferdinand Ezema is believed to be a big supplier of the substance. When our correspondent approached him, he said: “Yes, I sell it because people demand for it. I sell other drinks, like beer but because kaikai is people’s demand, I sell it. Now that the women are protesting against its sale and consumption in this town, I will stop selling it. In fact, I have stopped it already. It is no longer in my stock.”
But, is it true that many men have become impotent and infertile because of kaikai? He spoke for himself, claiming that his wife never complained. He said: “I wouldn’t know of those who cannot satisfy their wives sexually or impregnate them because I have not been contracted to do the job for them. But, I satisfy my own wife and also impregnate her whenever we want, even though I drink. I drink because there is no way I can be selling it without drinking it, but I do that in moderation. Maybe, because I don’t drink in excess, that’s why I cannot notice the women’s complaint. Everything we eat must be in moderation. Henceforth, I will stop selling and drinking because the community has decreed against it and I believe that the voice of many is the voice of God.”
Chief Boniface Aruma, alias Ozo Eze, is an Ogogoro drinker. He said he had been drinking it for over 50 years but still has his manhood intact and functional. He started drinking the substance as far back as 1957 to be precise, he stated. His wife, who was among the Catholic women, used to sell it until her organisation, (CWO) raised the alarm over its negative effects on their men.
According to him, “my wife used to sell it, but with this law, she has stopped. I drink it, but I am happy for what the women are doing. I only pity the poor ones who cannot afford to buy beer. It has no effect on me. I have 32 living children and I have been drinking kaikai since 1957. So, it has never prevented me from impregnating my wives or satisfying them sexually at any time. It doesn’t remove anything from me. But with this development, I have stopped it.”
On why the men start drinking early in the morning, the old man replied: “It is those who don’t do anything. For instance, I am an old man and I don’t do anything again. I only rely on my children to supply my needs. So, they send money to me and I buy whatever I need. I can afford to go there early in the morning because I don’t do anything again due to old age. I see it as food.”
He also identified poverty as one of the reasons why men resort to Kaikai. “It is poverty that forces people to consume the substance. For instance, when you buy a shot worth N30, it will be enough to make your day, but when you talk of beer, how many persons can afford N150 or more for just one bottle that won’t even get you anywhere? It won’t lay any foundation. You need to drink like four of five bottles before you are intoxicated, as much as somebody who takes a shot of kaikai, which is just N30. Four or five bottles of beer translate to N600 or N750; how many of them can afford it?” he asked.
Ukamaka Ezema is another seller, who stopped the business long before the protest. According to her, her conscience was pricking her. She also said people’s pressure and demand forced her to sell it, but she had to stop it when her late husband became a heavy drinker.
She stopped selling it as a way of curtailing her husband who also formed the habit of taking the substance from her store whenever she was away from home.
She narrated her story: “I was not selling it initially, but people kept demanding and putting pressure on me to start selling it. That was when I started selling it. There is one man who had stopped the consumption of kaikai because I was always fighting him when he was drinking. He would come and demand it but I would only give him one shot and after that, I would turn down his demand for more. He even saw me as a wicked person then, but since he stopped it, he has not stopped thanking me for contributing to his redemption. He now regards me as a person who loves him and who wanted him to live. There is another auto-mechanic, who is already useless.
“So, when I saw these women protesting, I was just saying that maybe it will help the boy to come back to life because already he is a living dead. I will be very happy if it can be stopped completely. I stopped it because it was against my conscience. I have stopped it long before this protest.”
She revealed that stopping the sale of the substance did not affect her business in any way and advised those who feel it would affect them to consider its bad effect.
She said: “I know some people will regret the ban, but they should first consider its side-effects. It destroys people in many ways. Some people have been rendered infertile. Some can’t even produce children any longer. Some men beat their wives after taking it. When my husband was alive, we always fought over it. In fact, I stopped selling it when I discovered that whenever I was not around, he would drink it. So, I decided to stop it in order to prevent him from its consumption. It was also my thinking that even if he would consume it, let it not be from me; let him go elsewhere and drink it. That was how I stopped selling it.”
Udoka Onah does not drink Ogogoro but he is concerned about those who do because of what it has turned them to. He is worried because many of his relations are affected by the scourge. He is very happy with the Catholic women for attempting to liberate the community from the shackles of kaikai.
Hear him: “As a non-drinker, you know you will be healthy. Kaikai kills the heart; it is just hot like fire. If you light the concentrated one, which has not been adulterated, it will ignite. It also wastes money. There is no gain in it. All the people that consume it are useless. They don’t progress in whatever they do. I have not been happy with the development. I love what the women are doing today. If they had told us, the youth, we would have gladly joined them in the protest. Some of my brothers consume it; the consumers in this community are plenty.”
He also mentioned some of the known selling joints in the community to include, Ejuona Nguru, which could be regarded as the headquarters of kaikai in the town because there are clusters of shops selling it there. Other joints are Port Harcourt and Ukwu Okpeye, among other places.
He also thinks that its cheapness could possibly be responsible for its high consumption rate and patronage, but warned: “Actually, it is cheaper, but I know that cheap things don’t have any benefit.”
However, Onyekachukwu Ugwu, from Ukwu Okepeye Umuezedike, in Nguru, another seller, is not very happy with the women for daring to rise against the sale and consumption of ogogoro in the community. Although, he pretends to be happy with what the women are doing, his questions gave him away as somebody who is not at ease with the development. For instance, he wants to know what the women are doing about water and electricity, which the community lacks. He is of the opinion that the women should agitate for the provision of electricity and water in the community instead of trying to deny people their means of livelihood.
“What the women are doing is good. I am not against them. It is not that kaikai is bad but the consumers don’t take it with moderation. They always drink it in excess. That’s why the women are protesting. In this community, some people no longer eat food because of it. I have stopped selling it because even before this protest, we have been hinted about the ban. So, I have already stopped selling it. But let me tell you that what the women are doing is not the right thing. There is no water and electricity in Nguru and they are not talking about that; instead, they are moving against people who are doing their business and making their daily living from the sale of kaikai.”
When reminded that the women’s grouse against the substance is that men have ceased to be men, in terms of their sexual prowess, and that with the development, the community stands the risk of going into extinction, he got angry and accused many of the women of infidelity. He said: “How can the community go into extinction, when a good number of the women protesting out there sleep around with other men who are not their husbands? They could get pregnant by other able bodied men if their husbands are not capable because they are already into the practice; so it is not a new thing to them and it is also not a sin to them.”
But when told that it is not good for married women to sleep with other men and that was why they were demonstrating against the consumption of kaikai so that their husbands could do their jobs in order to prevent them from sleeping around, he fired again: “I don’t believe that it is kaikai that is responsible for their non-performance. If they can ban it, it is good, but it is only those who consume it in excess that are affected.”
Efforts to speak with the traditional ruler proved abortive, as he was said to be out of town. A police source, however, said that they were in support of the action of the women because the nuisance value of some of the men is usually high after soaking themselves in local gin.
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