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‘Muratina’ no longer an illicit brew after landmark court ruling

Brewing and drinking muratina during traditional ceremonies is not illegal, a court has ruled.

Kikuyu Principle Magistrate D N Musyoka in March recognised muratina as part of the Kikuyu traditional customs.

He added that the constitution has a mandate to protect the cultures of all tribes in Kenya and no law created can infringe upon those cultural practices.

“They have to celebrate their traditional rites of passage through various ways and muratina (Agikuyu traditional brew) must form part of the celebrations,” Mr Musyoka said in his judgment.

In Kenya, the fight against alcoholism especially in Kiambu county has seen many a chang’aa den raided and dozens of vats of the brew poured in a bid to keep the masses sober.


The big debate in all this was the legality of the traditional brews of the various communities that makeup the citizenry of the country.

It is important to note the court made no mention on the commercial sale muratina.

The magistrate restricted his judgement only for the purposes of traditional ceremonies such as payment of dowry, marriage and initiation into adulthood.

In the case of the republic against John Ndungu Mbiyu, a muratina brewer, the magistrate found him innocent as he was only tasked by the Kikuyu council of elders known as Kiama to brew the beverage for a traditional ceremony.

The brew that had been presented to court as evidence was returned to the chairman of the council and the ceremony that was scheduled for March 24 was given the go ahead.

The bail posted by the accused, Mr Mbiyu was returned to him.