At night I couldn’t sleep, people shouted and cried, people in the dorm but also the voices in my head
By Shifa Mwihaki
There are characters, and then there are characters in rehab. Former Easy FM radio presenter Brian Oduor was shipped off to a famous rehab in Karen when drugs took the better of him. “It was a hellhole,” he recalled. “All the admitted men slept in a dormitory-like room, with many bunk beds, like high school.”
Though he admits he was screwed, his inmates in rehab were off the cliff, making noise at night which almost drove him mad considering “I suffered serious withdrawal symptoms; I’d either be shaking, sweating or feeling cold. At night I couldn’t sleep. At night people shouted and cried – people in the dorm but also the voices in my head.”
The rehab was like a looney bin: “There was a man who preached constantly, he thought he was sent by God to save us all. There was another chap who kept saying, ‘the president will call me anytime now. Then I will be out of here. You guys wait. I will release all of you guys and you can go and have all the drinks you want on me.”
There was a guy who spent the whole day talking to a stone…it was crazy in there
Brian also met a medical doctor who had been forced into rehab by his long-suffering wife. “He constantly bitched about her, saying she had committed him because she was trying to steal his money. There was a guy who spent the whole day talking to a stone…it was crazy in there.”
Brian didn’t think he belonged there, rather it was his family hiding their embarrassment. As he confessed to Jackson Biko, Brian seduced a nurse and ran away!
Another radio presenter, Fareed Khimani was shipped to the Substance Abuse Rehab in South Africa in 2017. No phones. No contact with the outside world for 28 days. “At 43, I had hit rock bottom but after a year of sobriety I relapsed. Self-loathing, anxiety, insecurity, inability to meet people.. I was back to that place again.”
There are people crying, you want to hug them, but you can’t touch them. Others are furious, laughing to themselves
So he returned to South Africa in 2018, but the former presenter at Capital FM almost lost his mind. His wife relocated to Switzerland with their two kids while he was struggling to “come clean” over drugs and alcoholism. “That completely broke me. In the middle of rehab doing something I thought would keep the family together..”
Then there is another former Capital and Easy FM radio presenter, Valentine Njoroge.
She didn’t go to a rehab, but a meditation retreat via Vipassana (which means see things as they really are). It is a 2000 year plus meditation technique perfected in India and happens twice annually in Kenya. She signed up as things were not looking up. Her magazine business failed, sinking her Sh2 million in debt. “There is a reason why people in debt change numbers, the phone never stops ringing. It is so stressing. Vipassana was 10 days, no phones. No debtors calling. It was also free. So I signed up. No wi-fi as well.”
I realized I want to be a mother. Like if I reach 60 without having brought another human being, I would be miserable
Vipassana involves four vows: celibacy, silence, no intoxicants or murder (especially of animals as diet is vegetarian).
“There are people crying, you want to hug them, but you can’t touch them. Others are furious, laughing to themselves…I realized I want to be a mother. Like if I reach 60 without having brought another human being, I would be miserable. I also invited Jesus into my life after dumping him for 18 years. I also wanted to get out of debt in a year.”
Valentine hooked up with Jomo Gecaga, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s personal assistant and “10 months later I was Mama Udi (named after Jomo’s Old Guy, Udi Gecaga). But I later realized I am only open to a particular kind of relationship…” and with that Jomo was dumped.
A rehab, a meditation retreat it appears, could be one sad house, where inmates “are divided against themselves, pitted against the world” but can come through since tomorrow comes, the sun shines, a world without end.