Miraa and its substitute 'muguka' which are both stimulants just like tea and coffee are both legal under the Kenyan law.
Some few years ago when miraa export was banned by the United Kingdom government, many miraa farmers, especially from Meru, went haywire prompting the Kenyan government to engage in a marathon shuttle diplomacy with the Queen's government in an attempt to reverse the ban.
However, this diplomacy between Kenya and her former colonial master seemingly bore no fruits leading President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration to offer Sh1 billion to miraa farmers as a contingency measure to shield themselves from the impact of UK miraa export ban.
But even as we lambasted the UK government for the unilateral measure, the question should have been and it still remains, how do we treat and perceive the green stimulant and its consumers locally?
If you want to get a satisfactory answer to the question, just visit any average pub in Thika. You will find stickers everywhere written in colour and bold warning against miraa chewing.
But why would pubs ban and illegalise a substance that is otherwise legal under the country's law? Below are four observations.
Miraa/'muguka' chewing at many Thika entertainment joints is all about perceptions. And negative ones for that matter. There are many people in and outside pubs around this area who associate the stimulant with criminals leading to its ban.
2. Ulterior motives
Miraa users hardly get drunk while using it alongside alcohol. As a result, there are those bars which will ban its use within their precincts because they have a fallacy that all users have hidden motives. For instance, to pickpocket the drunk revellers.
Many miraa or 'muguka' chewers, in reality, may not have any business sense to a pub owner. This is because many miraa chewers inside a pub will consume more talk, space and time more than they will do alcohol. This, however, depends from one user to the other and their reason(s) for going to the pub.
4. Miraa is classless
Take it or leave it, miraa/'muguka' is a stuff that is widely perceived as to belong to people without a societal class or at least to those who belong to the lower-end societal strata.
In some Kikuyu movies, for instance, characters playing the roles of muggers, thieves and pickpockets will be depicted chewing either 'muguka' or miraa.