One of the most heartbreaking moments this year was in February when my colleagues and I visited the family of Brian Kiambati Maina, a 21-year-old first-year civil engineering student who was killed in a road accident caused by a drunk driver.
The Kiambati’s — Mr Kiambati, his wife and their daughter — are a warm and beautiful family who at the time — and even to date — were struggling to come to terms with the death.
After the interview, we were taken up to Brian’s bedroom, which remained untouched since his death on the morning of January 29, 2016. Brian’s hoodies, sneakers and books on his desk told the story of an achieving and focused young man who hopped onto a neighbour’s car to attend a party on Thika Road in Nairobi.
It was in this room that tears began to flow freely as his father showed me pictures of Brian, a bookish boy who loved to read physics and geography.
I left the Kiamabati’s home a distraught woman and texted my friend “I hate drunk drivers”.
Brian and his buddy had left the party at 4am with his friend who was driving. Both boys were sober. However, while driving along Thika Superhighway, they met a drunk driving on the wrong side of the road at the GSU service lane, in an attempt to escape the NTSA alcoblow.
The drunk man was driving at a maddening speed, causing Brian to ask his friend, “What is this guy doing?”. Those were Brian’s last words.
He died on the spot.
In fact, Citizen TV, which that night had accompanied NTSA officers to capture the alcoblow madness, filmed the accident; the video would later help police to piece together the events leading up to Brian’s death.
Brian’s father told me he and his son had earlier that day made an arrangement to meet the following morning at 9:00 am for work.
“Our 9:00 am meeting happened. Only it happened in the morgue,” Brian’s father told me.
I am telling this story because I want to speak to the drunk drivers, particularly in this festive season and beyond. I am telling the story of the tears and forlorn face of Mama Brian to the ignorant drivers who purport the uninformed argument that “I know my limit. I have driven drunk many times before and nothing has happened to me.”
Shame on you, if you drive drunk, putting lives at risk.
I have never tasted alcohol for religious reasons but I know it impairs your judgment and most of you do not know when you have had too much.
Alcohol makes you say and do stupid things you will regret the next day and the rest of your life like that man who killed Brian.
Alcohol will make you take silly decisions like drive on the wrong side of the highway in a bid to escape NTSA and kill a child in the process.
Alcohol will make you disregard the other drivers at the roundabout and crash into an innocent driver waiting her turn, sending her to the ICU for months.
Alcohol will make you drive at 160 Kph on Mombasa Road ending the life of a boda boda operator in the process.
Some of you would rather spend thousands of shillings buying whiskey but not to take a taxi home because you want to save the Sh1,000 taxi fare.
Alcohol makes you stupid, and if you have a counter argument, tell it to the many mothers, fathers and children who have lost their loved ones.
Much as I would like to implore you to cut down on your alcohol consumption and instead spend quality time with your children and loved ones at home, I realise it is not in my place to dictate what you do with your time or money.
Plus, it’s your liver anyway, don’t forget to call us for a harambee when your liver eventually fails and we might have to send you to India for treatment.
What I would like to urge you is to drink like a person who has loved ones at home. Drink like a man who has children like Brian or a sibling knowing that someday you might find yourself in Taryn’s shoes — Brian’s sister, who lost her best friend.
Drink, by all means, empty the barrel. But when you are done, take a taxi home.
Merry Christmas to everyone, except the drunk drivers.