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People are sober, the government is drunk

TUMIE MODISE
Itís often thought or said that heavy drinkers contribute nothing to society. The word Ďdrunkardsí says it all. It is not flattering at all.

Having said that, some people argue that the opposite is true. Some of the greatest men and women in world history made it a daily mission to get absolutely smashed.

People who will be remembered forever; brave warriors, wise politicians, creative artists, excellent sportsmen and many other distinguished historical figures made this list.

Alexander the Great, whose casual conquering of other countries makes him, arguably, the most impressive emperor of all time, was a decorated imbiber. His father, Philip II, was a drinking legend too and is renowned for his copious wine drinking and for inventing the drunken conga.

Legend has it, and this is also on record, that Alexander exceeded his old man’s alcoholic excess by organising a drinking Olympics in India.

Instead of running around the stadium and throwing things around, athletes had to imbibe enormous amounts of wine. The only problem is, the locals weren’t built for that kind of thing and nearly all of them died.

This lackluster Olympic legacy aside, Alexander’s prestigious displays of drinking asserted his authority, oiled the wheels of diplomacy and gave him the cajones to pick fights with pretty much any kingdom that looked at him funny. Alexander died (after drinking 33 pots of wine) as the ruler of the biggest empire the world has ever seen.

Here at home, the Government continues to fight, and lose dismally, the battle against alcoholism. In a bid to curb alcohol abuse, several measures have been put in place, hopeless measures which include imposing the alcohol levy, limiting operating hours of liqueur outlets as well as cutting off entertainment hours.

Futile attempts, because if you ask me, in this country one has a chance of squeezing water from a rock than getting Batswana off the drink bottle. One just wonders how the world’s drinking championship keeps eluding us!

Batswana just love their alcohol. There isn’t a single household where every single member of the family is a teetoller, like black sheep, there has to be one or two family drunks.

At family functions; be it weddings, baby showers, tomb unveiling, graduations, funerals even baptisms, you will always find one or two people drinking if not already hopelessly drunk.

Buying crates of alcohol for grave diggers is already part of our culture. If you don’t buy alcohol for grave diggers, good luck digging

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the grave yourself!

Apparently, there are two types of drunkards; born and bred ones and those who are just happen to be victims of their own environment. I read somewhere that a person with a parent or sibling with alcoholism is three to four times more likely to be alcoholic themselves, while environmental factors include social, cultural and behavioural influences. So there.

Civic and religious leaders may never admit it, but the fact is, we have at one point or the other succumbed or experimented with unholy waters.

Religious people don’t like it when it’s pointed out to them that the son of Man once turned water into wine, some billions of years ago. Now this is one verse they just never read out in church. I’ve been to church all my life and can attest to that. When cornered, most people are always quick to pull out the peer pressure, youthful exuberance card. Granted, no one wants to be labelled a drunk, even if they know they are. And that is where the problem lays, denial.

When this alcohol levy thing was introduced a few years ago in this country, many applauded the move. I was one of them. Truth be told, something had to be done, and done fast at the time.

Things were looking like they had completely gone out of hand; accidents, deaths, many broken families and orphaned children, all of these attributed to excessive drinking, and rightfully so. Bars outnumbered churches in our neighbourhoods. Years later, well, it’s fair to say we have failed to completely ‘eradicate’ drunkenness.

What has resulted, and I am saying this in my personal capacity, is that we now have a situation where families are broke and the Government is rich, thanks to this alcohol levy. People’s drinking power has been eroded yes, but the people still drink and drink ‘expensively’ anyway. Sober people will get me.

Now here is what I think. I think that we should just scrap this levy thing. I think people should be allowed to drink, drink themselves to death if it comes to that.

Are we not complaining of lack of jobs, of thousands of unemployed graduates? Unemployed graduates don’t have the means to buy alcohol; it’s the working class that affords alcohol. Just my sober take.



Tumy on Monday

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