Her life revolves around a psychotropic leaf. Yeshmebet Asmamaw, 25, has made chewing the drug a ritual, repeated several times a day: She carefully lays papyrus grass on the floor of her home, brews coffee and burns fragrant frankincense to set the mood. Continue reading Khat an Increasing Problem for Ethiopian Youth→
“This is Khat,” explains Teklu Kaimo, gesturing to the wooded field behind him. He started growing it in 1976, and over the years its soft, green leaves have brought him a measure of prosperity. He has a modest plot of land, 11 children and money to pay their way through school.
A short walk down the hill, the central marketplace of this part of southern Ethiopia comes alive with farmers, merchants and salesmen as the sun sets. Young men sprint down streets with bundles of fresh qat leaves on their shoulders, as traders call out prices and haul the bags aboard lorries. They are bound for Addis Ababa, the capital, where the following morning they will be sold to khat-chewers in the city, or packed onto planes bound for neighbouring Djibouti and Somaliland. Continue reading A Khat Boom in Ethiopia and Kenya→
ACROSS the world, the rhythm of the day is determined by different things: the nine-to-five grind of financial hubs, the intervention of the afternoon siesta in some hotter reaches and the cycle of prayers in parts of the Islamic world.
Djibouti moves to a different cadence. Djibouti moves to khat (aka Qat).
FOR a town seen as a key trading centre for khat, a drug that is banned in many countries, Ethiopia’s Awaday can seem pretty drowsy and laid-back.
As the sun sets on the small eastern town, farmers and brokers of the amphetamine shrub rouse from an afternoon slumber to cut deals in the bustling market, one of the busiest centres of international trade for the leaves.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Djibouti was that people usually disappear from around midday to about 4.30 pm. The streets are deserted, shops and government offices are closed, not for afternoon prayers, but because people have gone to take a nap or enjoy their hobby of chewing khatwhen the daily shipment arrives.
Khat is a plant that usually contains the alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant. The World Health Organization classifies it as a drug that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence. It causes, among others, excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria. Continue reading Djibouti: A nation High on Drugs→