Ex-Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana opens up on his past battle with alcohol


• Kibwana, his first encounter with beer was when he was in form six.


Kivutha Kibwana

Former Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana has opened up on his past struggles with alcohol, as a young lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

According to Kibwana, his first encounter with beer was when he was in form six, and he didn't like it.

The former Governor said he started working as a lecturer at 23 years old, had money and together with his friends, got into a habit of drinking regularly.

"When I was in form six in 1972, that was the first day I tasted alcohol. 18 years old, this is how you show you are a man. It was not sweet, I said why do people take this thing? but that's when I tasted it," Kibwana said on Shared Moments with Justus.

"After now becoming a lecturer, you have money, you can go to town and paint it red. We would go to the senior common room of the University of Nairobi where we would drink our beer. That was just one place, there were many places we would drink."

He narrated that they each had a book where their bills would be recorded and deducted from their salaries at the end of the month.

Kibwana noted that sometimes, they would end up having no money left because of how much they had drunk that month.

"We would sign and whatever your bill, it would be deducted at the end of the month and sometimes we would drink until there wasn't money left from your salary.

I remember one of my friends who is now deceased, realizing that there was school fees to be paid and there was no money left in the salary, he took the book because everybody had their book as he thought if he took it, there would be no deduction but they still deducted."

The former governor said that in his case, he planned to have his classes on Mondays and Tuesdays so he could start his weekends early.

Kibwana said he got comfortable drinking but he was lucky that he never faced any disciplinary action, unlike most of his friends.

"Hotel Milimani was our sitting room. After you work you go there and continue with drinking and I was very clever so I thought I would arrange my teaching, Monday and Tuesday I do most of my teaching so my weekend starts on Tuesday evening. We could drink all the beer we want until Saturday. Sunday I'd start preparing for my classes," he said.

He said the drinking affected most aspects of his life and that of his friends, many of whom have now passed on.

He mentioned that the drinking habit got many of his friends concerned including former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga who kept asking him why he was into so much drinking.

According to Kibwana, his response was always that he was fine and he did his job as required.

"When you do this kind of stuff it impacts your family, there are quarrels, you misuse money, you are not present and people talk to you and say why are you wasting."

Kibwana said one time, while driving home drunk after he had just bought his first car, he caused an accident at the GPO roundabout because he fell asleep while drinking.

He said he was woken up by a big bang and thought it was a puncture but later realised it was an accident after people came out asking if he was okay.

"Those days if you got caught, the system would have a good reason to fix you. I said I think I'm hurt please get an ambulance and I said I'm going to Kenyatta National Hospital. When I got in the ambulance I told them to take me to Nairobi Hospital so when police came to Kenyatta, they didn't find me.

"The family looked for me everywhere. They even looked for me in the mortuary," Kibwana said.

The former governor said he went abroad on a scholarship and realised that the studies were not easy, and he needed to make changes in his lifestyle.

He noted that while his family had tried to ask him to quit drinking, it was still a personal choice that he had to make.

The drinking was between 1979 to 1983, Kibwana noted.

"It has to come down to your own decision. I had seen friends die, even that didn't bother me. I said it's their time, God has wanted that to happen and that couldn't convince me until I confronted myself. I said I don't want to do this anymore."

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