The other pandemic, Drugs

By Daryl

The youths are hopeless.
I repeat: the youths are hopeless!
I am hopeless. Skyrocketing inflation & high unemployment rates. Standards of living plummeting to new lows – does that paint a picture of my beautiful city Konte? This plague didn’t only hit our capital city, but has spread across the rest of the country. It’s heartbreaking to see the youths roaming the streets aimlessly.

It’s not just the youth that’s affected, so many people, young and old, have lost all hope. Many middle-aged people tried to raise their children differently than they were raised, hoping for a better life for the next generation. Sadly, that could not substantiate with this country’s economical environment and they now go about their life full of regret and broken dreams. It shows in the way they carry themselves. They can’t wait for their time for passing to come. All I see is sad faces in this slum of a city.

How do you spend your time, when pain is all you know? When everything you’ve tried failed? When you tried opening small a business, buying and reselling phones for example, but lacked capital to turn a profit? When you tried to sell laptop covers but it didn’t work out because your target market is in survival mode, and can only use the little that they have to get basics? What does it feel like knowing your family risked everything to provide for you with sound education from pre-school up to university level, only for you search for months and years for work and failing again and again? A good 16 years of investment with no tangible return? You feel like the ultimate loser, like everything you touch turns to dust. You feel that way because it seems everyone else sees you that way. Where do you go to, who do you cry to?

Many young men end up walking up and down the street looking for petty jobs and any hustle that might earn them a quick buck. Everyone seems to be hunting for viable opportunities to earn those holy dollars. “How to make a quick buck” is everyone’s mantra. But the days of hunting soon turn to months, and my dear friends resort to another outlet: drugs.

Drugs are so cheap in this city, even the homeless have easy access to them. Drugs seem to run this city, everyone’s high on something, all the time. Can I blame them? I don’t know… This country’s economic infrastructure has run everything to the ground. Hope is nowhere to be found. Some religious groups exploit this despair, profiting from the already impoverished, preaching that God will bless them if they bless the “Man of God.” It’s remarkable how billionaire and millionaire pastors emerge from the poorest countries across Africa. I really wonder how the masses are blinded from all of this.

“Well, drugs can numb my pain. Drugs make me feel alright, they make me feel happy and let me forget all my problems. So why shouldn’t I indulge? Why should I leave this city, when drugs are all that’s left? The beautiful escape, the home I call drugs. I love drugs.”

“I won’t last for day without them. Drugs support me. I need to find a quick buck to keep pushing, I’ll suffer without them. All my dreams and hopes of a better life have been crushed, I need something to cure my broken heart. I’ll harm no one by just having some all to myself and allowing myself to feel happy. This is my life now, a life of fleeting happiness and without responsibility.”

Drug abuse has gripped much of Southern Africa since Covid-19, and the situation deteriorates daily. Healthcare centers are swarmed with cases of dying patients due to illicit drug use, most of them being the young that should be building the country’s future. There seems no hope, but I think we shouldn’t stop advocating the abolishment of drugs.

They say the youth is the future, and I think it’s true, but what does that say about the future of this country? We’re doomed. No wonder they call this place the dark continent. Each day, everything grows slightly darker, and the hope of seeing some light at the end of the tunnel seems increasingly distant.

7 July, 2023