Kenya's 'Kill Me Quick' Moonshine Actually Kills People

Prohibition and "sin taxes" push many Africans to drink cheaper, locally produced moonshine. Some of it sounds pretty good, too, with 40% alcohol! But mix in some feces, cockroaches, and jet fuel, and you could wind up blind or dead.

A Guiness costs around $1.50 in Nairobi's slums, so many locals turn to chang'aa, or "kill me quick," for a cheap buzz. There are hundreds of illegal distilleries across the city and surrounding areas. A reporter for the Independent met some of the producers and hung out in bars in Kenya:

Down by the river, a breezeblock outhouse is used as a clandestine store for one of the larger batches. A mix of fecal water, rats and cockroaches spiked with formaldehyde from a nearby mortuary -– it's known to locals as "Hustle". Another brew, "Jet 5", takes its name from its magic ingredient: stolen jet fuel.

Mmmm, sounds tasty. And you just know that shit totally fucks you up! It's not just Kenyans producing this stuff, either. Many countries in Africa have a thriving illegal alcohol market:

The World Health Organisation believes that more than half of the alcohol consumed in sub-Saharan Africa is illegal. In Nigeria, the local specials include palm wines such as "crazy man in the bottle"; in Botswana there is fermented tho-tho-tho (the dizzy spell), in Zimbabwe the nightcap is "Scud"; and in DR Congo there's the plaintive kasiki (I regret).

But don't let moonshine with great names like Scud fool you, that shit can kill your ass. In Uganda in April, 80 people reportedly died after drinking banana gin, but not before going blind and suffering kidney and liver failure. And in two incidents in one Kenyan town, 200 people died from drinking methanol-laced chang'aa. Buyer beware.