With a web of approximately thirty drug dealers servicing Gaborone from places as far apart as Phakalane and Old Naledi, as I am informed by my interviewee, one would expect a reasonably robust community of drug users.
However, Tshepiso (not her real name), a woman in her mid twenties who admits to occasionally indulging in cocaine, says, “it’s quite a small community, because one has to be picky about the company you keep when taking cocaine.”
She is one of many who graduated in South Africa and says, in Johannesburg and the outskirts of the city where she schooled, the cocaine using community has always been very small. Gaborone is a small place and the community is smaller, she says, one could easily bump into their mom’s colleague, or a sibling’s friend. She says that there is no way she would want her family to know of her pastime.
“Rocks tend to turn one into a recluse because of the constant need to hide from anyone and everyone who might catch you unawares,” she says. “I have at times avoided my family for lengthy periods.”
Tshepiso’s sister has asked her once or twice if she was on cocaine, “and I had to deny it, instead saying I had only experimented it. I actually am able to abstain totally from taking any drugs when I am in a relationship, because I care not to hurt my partner.
Tshepiso says that she started taking Ecstasy and Marijuana in her late teens. Later, while schooling in South Africa, she started taking what she refers to as Cat.
“It’s a generic form of cocaine, I later graduated to using cocaine,” she explained. “I have sniffed, cooked and smoked the stuff.”
She added that China White is one of the 2 most popular types.
“As the name suggests, it is white and also light; it can just be sniffed but the yellow cocaine is heavier and must be cooked and smoked.”
She says she does it for the euphoric high.
“I have no care in the world when I am high. I lose my inhibitions and tend to be brutally honest too.”
Tshepiso adds that the downside is when her high wanes.
“Then I suffer from anxiety and become extremely emotional.”
She says that she has witnessed paranoia set in on her friends.
“It’s quite disturbing to watch a company executive suspiciously peering through windows and ruins one’s high.”
She says with the lot that’s happening in a CEO’s, life it’s a sorry sight.
Tshepiso, however, insists that she can quit when she wants.
“It’s really all about choices you make. I made the choice to take cocaine because I can,” she says but quickly adding, “I know that I may sound like a textbook junkie but I can quit when I want to.”
Says Tshepiso, “Some people have gone to rehab to withdraw from cocaine and they, however, remain in the same circle of friends that are still on drugs. So it’s a self defeating purpose,” she said, stressing that these individuals choose to be susceptible.
“It’s difficult to come out of the habit because your friends will invite you over and the dealers will offer you a sample now and then.”
Tshepiso ended the interview on a contradictory note of her disappointment at what she calls the government’s short sightedness in dealing aggressively with alcohol rather than drug trafficking.
“A gram of cocaine goes for P350, and a golf sized ball, ‘full moon’ as they call it, at P1500. Given that it is addictive, cocaine is an expensive habit.”
“A full moon can be sniffed up within an hour. It would probably keep you high for three hours. Soon you’ll be looking around the house for what’s sellable to stay high.”
“With drugs, families won’t only go hungry but have no place to call home,” she said.
Meanwhile Yarona FM is running an anti-drug campaign targeted at young people. The campaign is fronted by two former hosts, Kgosi ‘Dolla Mac’ Kgosidintsi and Bonolo ‘Ms B’ Seone. The two lost their jobs because of substance abuse and are reported to have approached the station with the first-of-its-kind, One More Chance campaign that will have them speak on air about their experiences with drugs to sensitise listeners and, possibly, earn them back slots on Yarona FM. The outcome will be decided through sms votes.
Said Ms B, “We are very excited about working with Yarona FM on this project. Dolla and I are confident that, between us, we will be able to save at least one potential victim from the dark life of drug abuse.” While Dolla Mac added, “Obviously, I would love to get my job back, but right now I’m just focused on trying to make a difference. Regardless of the outcome of the public vote, I know I’m doing the right thing. I haven’t felt this good in a long, long time.”