"It lasts about an hour", says one user, 16-year-old Luke Mpande, who prefers Jenkem to other substances.
"With glue, I just hear voices in my head. But with Jenkem, I see visions. I see my mother who is dead and I forget about the problems in my life."
“At the Lusaka sewage ponds, two teenage boys plunge their hands into the dark brown sludge, gathering up fistfuls and stuffing it into small plastic bottles. They tap the bottles on the ground, taking care to leave enough room for methane to form at the top. A sour smell rises in the hot sun, but the boys seem oblivious to the stench and the foul nature of their task.
They are manufacturing "Jenkem", a disgusting, noxious mixture made from fermented sewage. It is cheap, potent and very popular among the thousands of street-children in Lusaka. When they cannot afford glue or are too scared to steal petrol, these youngsters turn to Jenkem as a way of getting high.”
–Ishbel Matheson (Reporting for the BBC in Lusaka, Zambia 1999)
Reports of Jenkem first surfaced in in the mid and late 90’s as a popular drug manufactured and used among street children in Zambia. In the book Children of AIDS: Africa’s Orphan Crisis by Emma Guest, the making of Jenkem is described: "fermented human sewage, scraped from pipes and stored in plastic bags for a week or so, until it gives off numbing, intoxicating fumes." The process is similarly described in the 1995 IPS report: "Human excreta is scooped up from the edges of the sewer ponds in old cans and containers which are covered with a polyethylene bag and left to stew or ferment for a week.". The effects of Jenkem inhalation last for around an hour and consist of auditory and visual hallucinations. In 1995, a fifth-grader in Lusaka said of Jenkem to a reporter from IPS, an independent wire service, "Old man, this is more potent than cannabis."
Subsequent reports, such as the Project Concern International and Fountain of Hope joint authored “Rapid Assessment of Street Children in Lusaka” from 2002, claim Jenkems place as the third most popular drug among the young indigent population of Zambia’s capital. The first and second place honors going to Dagga (cannabis) and glue. The fourth and fifth spots held by uncured tobacco and gasoline respectively.
These reports languished in the United States as a curiosity to some and unknown to most until 2007 when the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in southwest Florida dropped a bombshell: Jenkem use was spreading like wildfire among the American youth.
There is high concern about the use of Jenkem for several reasons.:
First would be the unhygienic conditions of its production and the increase of risk from diseases such as salmonella, hepatitis A, pinworm infection, diarrhea, Norwalk virus and different gastrointestinal infections. Secondly, research about the impact of sewer gas on mice has shown that it causes lack of oxygen which can lead to serious brain damage and even death.
Parents Stay Vigilant! Your Children Depend On It!
- 01-Don Caballero // For Respect
- 02-Marnie Stern // For Ash
- 03-White Noise Sound // Sunset
- 04-Masters Of Reality // King Richard TLH
- 05-YACHT // Healthy Student
- 06-Husker Du // Chartered Trips
- 07-Sonny And The Sunsets // The Hypnotist
- 08-Creston Spiers // The Time Has Come
- 09-Hella // Republic Of Rough And Ready
- 10-Les Savy Fav // High And Unhinged
- 11-The Sword // The Night The Sky Cried Tears Of Fire