Mnazi in Kilifi county

Kilifi County residents have voiced their opposition to the current assault on palm wine brew, sometimes referred to as mnazi, arguing that it is a natural wine and not illegal alcohol.

The locals are requesting that the authorities withdraw the beverage off the list of illegal alcoholic beverages, claiming that it was spontaneously harvested from the coconut tree and has no added ingredients.

Led by Kilifi Assembly Speaker Teddy Mwambire, the locals denounced the brew's illegal categorization as a disrespect to the Mijikenda community, citing its many cultural and social purposes.

Mwambire said that he would not watch while agents of law enforcement hounded Mnazi users and dealers, and that the government should have a bilateral conversation with local leaders to inform them of the significance of the beverage in Mijikenda culture.

"We've seen some individuals get upset about our people in the Coast area drinking palm wine, but this is a social and cultural beverage rather than an illicit one. Before adding mnazi to the list of illegal drinks, I would want to warn the national government—and in particular, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua—to calm down and learn more about it'," he said.

He went on to argue that the government had to encourage and promote the coconut tree as well, pointing out that Kilifi County has declared the tree and all of its products, including mnazi, to be a cash crop.

"I have never heard anybody voice concerns about the harmful consequences of mnazi, yet the government is willing to criminalise mnazi, which is completely natural and taken straight from the coconut tree, and permit the sale of mogoka and miraa, which have adverse effects on users. To fully realise the potential of the coconut tree as a nation and a region, we will work to pass laws that would turn it into a cash crop," the speaker said.

Mnazi in Kilifi county photo

Gachagua authorised a crackdown on illicit brews while in Mombasa two weeks ago; as a result, vendors and buyers of mnazi wine have been harassed.

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