It was a Saturday afternoon and being in Nairobi, I found myself doing what every other guy does in Kenya: head to the barbershop for a cut. But to my surprise, I came to understand why it has become the favorite activity for every guy around on a lazy Saturday afternoon. It’s not the barber shop that we once used to know where you pop in, a guy shaves your head, and you are out. Nowadays, every shave is accompanied by a nice head and shoulder massage from a beautiful lady. This being a FISI nation, I can bet no FISI will miss the barbershop every weekend.

But as I was getting a shave, I was caught by surprise of how conversation in barber shops have shifted from politics to betting. Betting is the new plague in Kenya, almost everyone talks about betting. Numerous betting companies have sprung up, each trying to please their clients more than the other. I was shocked, because for once, Kenyan men’s emotions are on display when talking how much money they have lost or how they are addicted to it and can’t seem to find a way out of the gambling addiction.


It seems both the authority and the people who participate in betting still have their heads buried in the sand and refuse to admit that betting is gambling. Gambling can become a major problem if not addressed. It’s just a matter of time before everything goes haywire and the news stories in town will be how many families have been broken, how many people engages in crime to feed their addiction, or worse, how many people have resorted to taking their lives after squandering all their fortunes in gambling and are too ashamed to face reality.


I am not a fan of government regulation, but at the same time, I still think the government has a responsibility to censor its citizens on self-destructive behaviors, and to put measures in place to help those who find themselves trapped. In most states, such betting companies are supposed to put warnings on their websites and apps warning citizen of the dangers of gambling and offer a number that people can call and get help controlling their addiction.


But this being Kenya, we will just watch as we did with second-hand generation alcohol and we will not take any action until women start stripping and protesting that their husbands have become just bodies as they spend all their money gambling. That’s when the government will try to score some cheap point by patching the problem, by then as is most of the time, it’s too late to save a lot of people and mend all of the damage caused to society.


I am not the government but if you elect me, I will not watch my people perish at the expense of a few companies, but I will give you free advise. Betting is gambling, gambling is addictive, if you find yourself addicted, seek help and don’t wait for the government, if you love yourself. Please don’t become a number when they start counting the victims of this new plague.


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