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Betting is our ‘chama’ — Uni students

By Brian Guserwa | July 29th 2016

The current generation of youth may have missed on the ‘Maziwa ya Nyayo’, but now they have betting — a new craze that is here to stay.

While they can make do with the fact that betting is not going away anytime soon, they cannot fathom just how quickly it has left many of them broke — never mind that they are broke most of the time, save for that time of the semester when The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) pays them a visit.

Of concern though is the fact that students are increasingly spending their loan money on betting.

It is no longer uncommon to hear the word HELB mentioned in the same breath as SportPesa, Betin or Betway.

“Betting is like a chama,” explains James Maina, a former student of Moi University, adding that, “You give and give and give, until that day when it will be your turn to receive. I have been betting since 2014, and I have lost more than I have gained.”

Denis Wachira*, a finalist at The Technical University of Kenya (TUK), refers to it as kuingia ofisi. It has become something of a specialty for him. The extensive analysis he carries out on each team before placing the bet increases his chances, or so he believes. But he is on a break now.

“Acha Helb iingie,” he jokes, looking mournfully at his account history. “Hii pesa yangu lazima irudi.”

And yet these are some of the milder narratives. In February, we were treated to the story of one Moses Omwoyo, a Maseno University student who was forced to drop out after losing his Helb loan, meant for fees, on the gambling site.

It’s no wonder, then, that the company’s coffers have been swelling steadily, particularly between 2015 and 2016. Y

Moi University Students Finance Director Eugene Muchai says:

“Betting has become so addictive and more are falling into the trap every day. Some have gotten into theft, some have lost business opportunities, some have lost school fees.”

He says the only way out is to teach the students to manage their finances better.

And with the new football season around the corner, one can only imagine how busy the students will be — and Uncle Helb is sounding out bells for loan applications.

Soon, phrases like ‘Multibet’, ‘Under 2.5’ and ‘GG’ will begin to be bandied about in the hallways of higher learning. The sad truth is that University students are now gambling away the money entrusted to them by the government, the money meant for their tuition. It is enough to make one nostalgic for the good old days, when Helb meant a new sound system, a spring in your step and a night out of town with a campus beauty!

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