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How drug barons use student leaders to recruit poor learners

Innumerable poor university students are getting into drug trafficking after being lured with promises of quick returns by trusted friends and classmates, Nairobi News can reveal.

So dire is the situation that our investigations have revealed some students have quit school altogether or mulled committing suicide after their attempts to leave the trade were met with death threats – some have been killed – and intimidation.

Mary, a third year student in a local university, started trafficking and abusing drugs unwittingly in her first year after making an innocent request.

“I had a village friend in campus. One time I was dead broke and I asked her to lend me Sh500 to push me for a few days. She agreed and told me that she would introduce me to a part time job that would earn me money. She introduced me to drug trafficking and here I am with nothing to show for it but uncountable exam retakes,” she recalls.

Mary adds that she got too tempted to try what she sells to other students and that is how she got into drug addiction. And she is a troubled person, if her unkempt hair, discoloured teeth and bloodshot eyes are anything to go by.

She usually meets her clients who are fellow college mates at a particular time and place to transact the highly secretive business. The situation is, however, more serious in the private university which tend to attract students from the privileged backgrounds who have more disposable income.

And due to the high security in campuses, Mary said that she has to hide the drugs inside a heavy wig on her head to avoid being caught. “Sometimes we get abused by security personnel in campus but give them ‘chai’ and continue with our business,” she adds.

The drug kingpins are businessmen outside campuses who use university leaders to recruit distributors. The university leaders often target students from upcountry who are often less exposed amid pressure to make ends meet in their new environment.


“These are usually easy prey to drag in the drugs trap. Substances like bhang are sold in many forms including sticks, cookies among others,” said a student who escaped the dragnet.

As a recruited drug trafficker, the more you sell, the higher your commission. But it’s not a walk in the park. Once you are in, there is no going back.

“In fact, some students have been killed for attempting to quit. The barons think they know so much which is why you hear a body was discovered near this and that hostel. It’s a risky undertaking that nobody is talking about,” said a student, whose friend quit university in 2013 over death threats.

Paul, another trafficker, adds: “I can’t even concentrate in class because of this business. Every time I’m worried the administration will catch wind of it and expel or suspend me. I want to stop but again I want to earn money. I even have no time to study because I must be on the move meeting customers.”

Kelvin, a drug addict, buys bhang from his classmate. He says: “I started smoking cannabis when I was in high school and it was hard to access it there. Here it’s cheaper and easily available. With Sh20 I have a stick at my convenience.”

As the destructive and illegal activity grows roots, it happens at the wake of a fully-fledged administration and student affairs departments.

And as the clock ticks, some students said so does the hope of taming this business disappear not to mention the massive brain drain that goes along with it.