Breaking free from alcoholism
Drinking for pleasure, an innocent act has turned out to be a disease for many and a trap they cannot get out of. Very Many Kenyans are affected by this disease and we all have a friend or relative who is hooked to the bottle.
Thomas Mbui Mburu, 40, has battled addiction to alcohol for 20 years.
Mbui grew up in a happy home and was raised with Christian values, yet he fell prey to the bottle at the prime of his youth, partly as a result of crushing pressure to excel in academics.
Now recovering, he describes this new chapter of his life as his first real taste of true freedom in years. And he is adamant he will not fall off the wagon.
“For the one year that I have been sober, I feel as though a heavy burden has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel lighter, fresher and I am able to think straight about my life,” he says.
Mbui is the first-born in a family of six children and describes his childhood in “a doting middle class family that any child would desire to belong to” as happy.
“We went to good schools, had a comfortable house, wore fairly fashionable clothes and were taken on regular outings and visits to our relatives,” he says.
His parents were “staunch Catholics and ambitious” civil servants (now retired), who had risen from humble beginnings. “Their main goal was to give their children the very best that they could and as the firstborn, a lot was expected of me.
This gave me the assiduous task of being the perfect role model to my siblings,” Mbui explains. “The rules of the game were simple – toe the line that is shinning bright and don’t follow the dark alleys lest you become a black sheep.
My dad had a strict creed that he ingrained in us, with academic excellence receiving great emphasis.” By age seven, Mbui had already received his first holy communion and at 12, he was confirmed in the Catholic Church and became an altar boy.
Never seemed to be enough In primary school, Mbui managed to be among the top three in his class, but this never seemed to be enough.
“I was like a high jumper who immediately after going over a hurdle, the coach hurriedly moves the pole up to the higher notch,” he says to explain the expectations he felt he had to meet.
In 1986, Mbui joined Njiiri School for his secondary education. “A lot of pressure was exerted on me by my teachers and parents to perform miracles in sciences, yet I was only an average student in this.”
Following a rather dismal performance in the science options he had focused on, he did not make it to university despite his school coming in sixth nationally.
He decided to repeat form four at Lenana School, a decision that he says paid off as he later joined Egerton University in 1992 to pursue a bachelor of arts degree in Kiswahili and English literature.
And this is when things came to a head. While at the Njoro campus, Mbui and his friends began drinking for pleasure; an innocent act that ended up becoming a disease.