Never had I before thought one day in my life, alcohol was going to be my master, for I hated people who drank or staying around them during my childhood days. It was mainly due to that, that they teased and made fun of me, which I got to understand was caused by alcohol working on them.
I was born to a young newly-wed couple. Life was fun as I was the only child and I always got what I wanted. It was suddenly cut short by the death of my father when I was 7 years. I lost all hope and developed a lot of anger at the world, especially God as I thought he took away my father. With things getting hard due to my mum’s limited income, we moved from the spacious house that we lived in, to Bontleng, living in a one roomed house. It never ceased to amaze me that throughout all these I was excelling academically.
At age 9, my mother opened a shebeen so she could put food on the table. I felt low and poor and started hanging with the bad kids. Nevertheless my academics progressed well. I was ashamed of the situation at home and never allowed any of my classmates at school to know where I was residing. It was this year, 1999, that against my strong prejudices, I had my first taste of alcohol, drinking Shake Shake Chibuku. Most of the kids I hung out with always got caught for stealing and I was spared the humiliation because I always remained behind when the action began.
By the year 2000, my little sister was born, which began my misery of feeling lonely and not attended to by my mother. I also felt betrayed as I thought she had done a sin by dating another man after my father’s death. Amidst all this, I was displaying good behaviour at school and my performance was constant throughout to the next three years. I did not have any problem with alcohol as we (kids) were allowed to taste and have a sip form the elders during the Christmas time and other joyous family gatherings, but I always knew it was not meant for me as I would drink more that other kids and not getting sick like them.
In 2003, I sat for my primary school leavers examinations and passed with flying colours (A). I received gifts and some adults showered me with money. I don’t know how but a few friends and I put the money together and managed to buy alcoholic drinks. It was the first time I blacked out in my life and had to be carried home by some family friends passing by.
I felt I needed a father figure, not just any but for my father to wake up from the dead and take care of me. My stresses continued as the next year another addiction was added to the family. Now I felt totally out of place and not belonging so I usually snuck out with some friends after stealing shake shake from my house and drinking with the older guys. With them and drinking, I felt welcome. My academic performance was average and it continued until my last year of junior high school, 2006.
After writing the exam, I managed to get a job at a local restaurant at 16 years old as I looked all grown. By now my mum had stopped selling shake shake but continued selling cigarettes. I never felt any urge to smoke so I didn’t bother myself with it. My daily tips were saved for the weekend when I would join my friends and commence drinking with them or alone as money wasn’t a problem now. My JCE results came out and I had managed an A as the best student in the school. My salary had been paid and I went on a spree at my home village as a way of celebrating. When doing all these, mum had little knowledge of what was happening to her son.
I had my second black out (passing out) then at my first girlfriends place only to wake up the next morning at my home tied to a chair as they feared for my safety. For those who knew claim I had been involved in a fight with my girlfriend’s uncle. The next day I felt like a hero as everybody talked about my rebellion although I was excelling at school, becoming an envy of the village kids and being offered drinks by my friends and uncles to celebrate my victory.
2006 had not been a bad year as I consoled myself that I was progressing to senior high school and a fourth child had been added to the family.
I was admitted at a senior high school near my home. I spent much of my time after school playing chess and practising to add on to my accolades and chess medals which I had won at junior high tournaments. This allowed me only to drink during school vacations. My academic performance improved and I took part in motivational speaking and subject fairs and exhibitions. One of my projects scooped first position at the regional science fair in 2007 which called for celebration (drinking) after the fair. I was now leading a double life of an alcoholic during weekends and school vacations and other part of being a student attending to all my academic requirements and chess playing commitments.
It all got worse in 2008 at age 18 as now I could walk into bars and liquor shops buying my own drinks. My many friends increased and I drank when happy and when sad. One day while writing my exams I went drinking two days, before important examinations. After finishing exams it was worse as I was now a full blown alcohol lover and getting into trouble at times and not quitting. I got a job as a waiter again just to finance my drinking.
January 2009, I started as a peer counsellor at my previous high school and the subsistence allowance financed my drinking. The results came and I was among the cream of the school with 48 points in grading system. This called for an increase in my alcohol intake as I believed I was an achiever and deserved some fun time.
I was offered a place and government scholarship to study Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Botswana. By then alcohol was my master and concerned people especially friends and relatives pleaded with me to reduce or even stop altogether. My student allowance funded my drinking and I attended a few classes or none as I would be in a hangover or worse too sick to attend. I believed I was living life and getting educated and thought I would be able to juggle my duties of drinking and studying like I did at high school. This didn’t turn out to be right as my first semester was also my last. I had failed and got enough warning to be declared a FAIL and DISCONTINUE in my first semester of my first year. I had been busy drinking my future away with the excuse that my course was difficult and alcohol was my relief only to have my scholarship terminated. (2009/Aug-Dec)
My drinking escalated and had near death experience while out drinking with my friends during the beginning of 2010. I was doing this, believing I was relieving my stress and enjoying life. Family and friends continued with their pleas which fell on deaf ears. I did part time jobs to finance my drinking which was worse than before, now I was a full blown alcoholic. I saw light and felt alive when I sought help and quit drinking in Aug 2010. I have little or no recollection of the period 2008-November – August 26 2010 as much of the time I was out drinking numbing the reality of life.