A drug labelled poisonous by the authorities in France, forms a thriving trade in the French African territory of the Afars and the Issas -- with official blessing.
A drug labelled poisonous by the authorities in France, forms a thriving trade in the French African territory of the Afars and the Issas -- with official blessing. Each year over 1,600 tonnes are imported from Ethiopia and supplies are sold out within hours of delivery.
The drug takes its name from the Kat Shrub Which is gown on the Harrar Plateau in neighbouring Ethiopia. It's popularly known in Djibouti as "The Salad" and appears to dominate the lives of almost all the adult population -- except for the Europeans.
The green leaves that people chew contain a substance that gives an effect similar to pep pills -- stimulation, excitement and euphoria. It also has depressing side efforts.
Kat is playing an increasing role among the locals. The chew their way through three and a half tonnes of the shrub leaves every day. And on the days when the drug doesn't arrive, there is general consternation in the city.
The non arrival of an assignment of Kat sends a wave of concern through the population. Kat has even taken priority over politics and tribal rivalries in the self governing territory.
And while the French authorities frown on the whole business, its import provides valuable revenue for the Djibouti Government that they don't want to lose with a crack down. It also provides the Ethiopians with useful foreign exchange.