Khat/Miraa Geraldine

Posted: February 28, 2012 by lilzak in Uncategorized

The article, “Khat and the Creation of Tradition in the Somali Diaspora” by Axel Klein discusses how the truth about the history and use of the drug came to have such a dominant place in the Somali community and the conflicts its acceptance have created. Klein may argue that “ khat may be part of the culture, but its not part of history” however, I think it is irrelevant because of the vast economic, social and psychological effects of the drug on the individuals taking it today. It is a part of their history today and that makes it a part of the culture. Klein makes a good argument when he says that the problems khat users have with unemployment and poverty as a reason for khat’ increased use as opposed the the chemical effects of the drug may be true to a point because being in a new place and not being able to find work is hard for anyone, however, being high chewing khat all day would not change things either. It seems this argument is a cop-out for the men involved being that they are causing further stress on their already strained family relationships especially in refugee situations. It is a bad sign when a community is enarmored with a shrub because it means among other things that the earth is their lord instead of they are the lords of the earth. This is reflected in the loss of control over their lives. How does a community allow a shrub to determine who they are?

The article “Bundles of Choice” by Neil Carrier discusses how Miraa is produced, distributed and sold in Africa and the international market. It has a long process which encourages specializing and connoisseurship on the plant’ varieties and areas where it is produced and preferred. It also points out how the Miraa is valued so as to develop entrepreneurship. The drug seems to have some benefits in terms of providing and uplifting physical and psychological effects but because it is consumed in such a large amount, it causes more problems that it benefits and seems to cause further instability amongst a group that is already unstable due to cultural and economical shifts. The chewing of Miraa seems to occupy a large part of the communities involved and they spend a lot of time refining how to make and present the produce better.

The article is very well written and easy to follow. The author makes the reader realize that this shrub has a huge control over the lives of these communities both economically psychologically, and socially.

Klein’s focuses on the social implications of Khat specifically on the Somali community which has experienced a tearing of its identity. Khat users claiming that chewing is a part of their culture seems to be trying to restore that identity through this product.

Carrier’s article makes a very informative and clear discussion of the enormity of the acceptance of the shrub on many African societies led by the Somalis. I thought this was very well articulated how thoroughly controlled this substance is and this further shows that they can do better than creating excuses regarding Khat use and its effects on their communities. I think both articles marry the production of the drug and it’s social effects very well.

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