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Petition filed to make Kamba traditional brews legal

Hardly two months after the court declared the Kikuyu brew, muratina, not illicit an Ukambani traditionalist is seeking same treatment for the Kamba traditional brews kaluvu and mawa.
Lawyer Charles Mwalimu (right) filed a petition on behalf of the Anzauni clan among the Akamba community at Kitui High Court.The petition seems to declare kaluvu and mawa brewing as not illegal.|BONIFACE MWANIKI

Augustus Muli, who was recently installed the national patron of the populous Anzauni clan among the Akamba on Thursday filed a constitutional petition at Kitui High Court seeking a declaration that kaluvu and mawa were not illicit.

The petitioner wants the constitutional division of Kitui High Court to issue orders giving the Kambas the free will and liberty to brew and partake in the consumption of the two traditional alcoholic beverages. He said making the brews illicit through the Alcoholic Control Drinks Act 2010 contravenes not only fundamental but cultural rights and freedoms of the Akamba populace.

The petition was filed by lawyer Charles Mwalimu for the petitioner. It names the CS for Interior and Coordination of the National Government with the Attorney General named as the second respondent.

After filing the petition, Mwalimu told journalists outside the Kitui Law Courts constitutional petition will be mentioned on May 28, 2024. Muli contends that the respondents have for long been restraining the members of the Akamba community from preparing mawa and kaluvu on grounds that they are illicit and do not conform to the Alcoholic Drink Control Act. 
“The action by the Respondents to classify mawa and kaluvu as illicit discriminates against the Akamba people and violates their right to practice their culture thus putting it at the brink of extinction,” he avers.

Among his prayers, Muli seeks a declaration by court that Mawa and Kaluvu is not an illicit brew and the Akamba people are at liberty to prepare and consume them as part of their culture and tradition without interference from the Respondents.
He further prays for an order directing the respondents to take steps to ensure that the two brews be exempted from licensing for being cultural drinks by proposing an amendment to Section 7 (3) of the Alcoholic Drink Control Act.

He further seeks a court declaration that any question as to the regulation and brewing of mawa and kaluvu solely falls under his office as the national patron of the Anzauni Ndene clan of Kenya. 
He also appeals to the court to give any other relief that it deems just and fair and that the costs of the petition should also be provided for.

Toward the end of last February, a Kiambu Court declared that the popular Kikuyu brew, known as muratina, is not an illicit drink. In a judgment issued by High Court Judge Abigail Mshila, she said the brew was not illicit and could be prepared as part of the Kikuyu’s culture and traditions.

She however ordered the Kikuyu Council of Elders to regulate the process.
"The court orders the Kiama Kia Ma with the assistance of the local Chiefs to continue to regulate the preparation and consumption of muratina without prejudice and existing laws," Mshila ruled.

The court's ruling emerged from a petition submitted by 12 Ndeiya Traditional Brewers, who sought redress due to the infringement of their rights by the Kiambu County commander, county commissioner, Ndeiya Sub County OCPD, and the area deputy county commissioner.
The brewers informed the court that these administrative officers had subjected them to harassment and legal action, even though they possessed the necessary permission to engage in traditional brew preparation.


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