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Prison officer nearly killed his family because of addiction

By Phares Mutembei | October 2nd 2021

Pastor Dennis Kiama, a constable at the Kenya Prison Service based at the Meru GK Prison was a habitual drunkard and bhang smoker.

For six years, Kiama, 27, was into heavy alcoholism, miraa, bhang and tobacco smoking.

He started his addiction in 2011. He was a Form Three at Kibirichia Boys High School in Buuri Sub County.

Kiama’s addiction has seen him interdicted, blowing away a Sh800,000 loan he took to open a business, and nearly killing his wife and parents.

Though he is now a changed man and is involved in raising awareness among the youth on the dangers of alcohol abuse, Kiama regrets his past.

While in High School, he was appointed as the entertainment captain, Scouts troupe leader, drama chairman and Journalism Club chairman.

“Every Saturday, I was allowed to go to Kibirichia market to choose movies for the weekend. I was respected and the school gatekeeper was not allowed to ask me anything or search my bag. I took advantage of this and I would sneak in drugs, liquor, bhang, tobacco and miraa,” Kiama said.

“My academic life was really affected. I scored a D minus in Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE),” he says, a situation which forced him to repeat Form Four in a nearby day school where he scored a C minus.

He continued with his drinking and would sometimes steal from his parents to get money to buy alcohol.

“I requested my parents to enroll me in a college to study a Journalism course, but they refused. They claimed they were broke and couldn’t afford,” he shared.

He became demoralised and would sneak from home for a whole week and spend time in bars.

However, in 2015, Kiama got a reprieve after he was recruited into the Prisons Service.

He was elated and knew his life was changing for the better.

“I went for training for nine months. For the first four months, I really suffered because I was addicted to cigarettes, which I had no access to,” he recalls.

Upon graduating, he was posted to Nairobi Industrial Area Remand Prison, where he worked for less than a year.

He says that it is during this time that he reconnected with his former girlfriend trying to woo her to marriage.

“She turned down my advances, citing she could not cope with me. I became frustrated. I hated my parents for sabotaging my Journalism ambition. I used to drink and I would skip work. I hated my job too,” he reveals.

Within six months after reporting to work, he was interdicted.

“The same year I was employed is the same year I was interdicted. I stayed without a salary for many months. In 2017, I was involved in a serious road accident, which required an operation,” he said.

Incapacitated, he went back home, forcing his parents to fend for him.

Even in crutches, Kiama still went to local bars.

During the same period, he fell in love with Damaris Kinya.

“She accepted me and said she was ready to walk with me in fighting my addiction. We were blessed with one daughter,” he said.

Looking for ways to eke a living, Kiama took a Sh800,000 loan. He started a bar business at Nkubu and also a  motorbike business.

“In two weeks time, I had drunk my whole stock. I also sold the motorbike for Sh40,000 yet it cost Sh100,000. I used all that money on alcohol.”

He also squandered a Sh15,000 dividend on alcohol and drugs.

“I had only given my wife Sh1,000 from the Sh15,000. I spent the rest on alcohol in one weekend. On Easter Monday, when I was supposed to report to work, I could not even wake up. I called my wife and parents to send me money, but they refused. A friend bought me alcohol and bhang. I decided to kill my parents and wife because they had refused to send me money.”

On Easter Monday, April 2019, he went home and poured oil on the floor.

His plan was to torch the house they were in and later commit suicide.

“I wanted them to slip and be helpless, to make it easy to kill them. Around 1 pm after smoking bhang, I was very hungry and I went to the kitchen and ate a full sufuria of githeri! I blacked out and when my parents arrived home, they found me unconscious and they rushed me to hospital.”

He was taken into rehabilitation and it is here that he reformed.

He now runs a programme, Youth Against Drug Abuse.

Kiama also preaches in schools, and churches.

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