The Waterglass continues its investigative reporting into jenkem. Our crack staff of investigative reporters have tracked down an anonymous source who confirms that jenkem — defined as fermented sewage — is real and has been used by street children in Lusaka, Zambia. Due to confidentiality reasons, we cannot reveal the source. We can say that this individual has seen first-hand street children in Lusaka, Zambia collecting “faecal material,” placing it in the sun and huffing the gas this process generates. This individual was shocked to see it.
Jenkem is used because it is free and because it does not involve property theft. For example, stealing petrol is a property crime. We surmise from this that the Lusaka authorities do not consider stealing “faecal material” a crime on par with stealing other, presumably more valuable, property. Lack of enforcement is tantamount to ignoring the problem.
It must be stressed that our anonymous source does not know how popular jenkem is, or if it is still being used. If we recall the UNICEF report, only 5.8% of a skewed, unrepresentative sample of street children in Lusaka, Zambia reported having used the drug.
Jenkem does not seem to be popular in Lusaka, Zambia, and least of all in the United States, where there are no confirmed cases of its use.
According to the anonymous source, the use of jenkem is due to the appallingly poor conditions in parts of Lusaka. Facing the depths of what anyone would reasonably consider absolute poverty, a small percentage of the poorest of the poor street children in Lusaka turn to “butthash” to escape from the physical and psychological torment of their existence. From the UNICEF report, it is clear that other huffing drugs, such as gasoline or glue, are preferred over jenkem.
American kids will never turn en masse to jenkem, not only because of the stench and stigma, but because they have a “wealth” of other drugs to turn to first. There are millions of American poor (36.5 million in 2006), but even the ones that would turn to drugs would likely start with the most high-end drugs they can find (marijuana, cocaine) before resorting to fermented sewage. It is possible some demented American will try it out of curiosity, but jenkem could never be popular, in any sense of the term. It’s not even popular in Lusaka, Zambia, and their poverty rivals that of the worst in the world.
Jenkem is real, but it is not popular — anywhere.
What gets lost in the jekem story is that poverty is real, street children are real, and street children in the cities of subsaharan Africa face some of the most awful conditions on Earth. Some people are so wrapped-up in their narrow-minded, egotistical world that they worry more about their own children getting high off of fecal materials — an incredibly unlikely event – than the very real poverty in Africa — a current, on-going, and widespread problem.
Give a shit; Give to UNICEF.