Disclaimer: so this is actually the second time I publish this post (it was on my other blog first) and I just wanted to point out that I’ve altered it a bit.
Every time people realise that I not into alcohol they’re surprised. Sometimes it’s annoying. I assume it’s because I’m Burundians and on this side of the World, when it comes to drinking, Burundian men are only beaten by Ugandans, though that’s a ‘fact’ which I believe needs to be reviewed. So I’m asked whether my distant relationship with alcohol is based on religious beliefs or values. Well, yes and no.
My decision not to be an alcohol consumer dates way back before 2002 when I started attending a born-again Church, which, on this side of the World is most likely to be against alcohol consumption. And that’s the case with the Church I go to. I realise being born-again and going to Church are 2 different things, but that’s not what I’m talking about today…
So when I was a kid, about 4 or 5 years old (yes, I have memories from back then), there was an uncle who stayed with us. The guy was such a slave to alcohol (or to his bad company, go figure) that often he would come home past midnight, drunk, jump over the gate, walk around the house, come up to our bedroom window and wake up the muyaya (nanny) who would let him into the house. For a long time I wondered how a grown (and very smart!) man could be so selfish and have so little regard and respect for his host… Well it wasn’t him, it was an alcohol problem.
Later in life, a lot of kids my age started drinking and it was understood one had to be an alcohol consumer to be “cool”. The only affordable alcoholic drink around was beer which I always had a problem with. See, I’ve always been a sweet tooth and beer is just too bitter for my liking. I’d rather go with a good cider or a relatively sweet cocktail drink, but these don’t come cheap either.
Coming back to my teenage years, the rebel that I am didn’t understand WHY I had to drink something that I didn’t like just to be “cool” and fit in. So I decided beer wasn’t going to be for me; whether people thought I was cool or not. The rebel in me was also against the belief that alcohol was a necessary element to have fun i.e. at a party, while hanging out with friends, etc. Well I understand that alcohol can help people supress some of their inhibitions, but I always believed that if you can’t be yourself around people, well, that’s a like a confidence issue. I’m not judging anybody, I’m just saying.
Furthermore, I was really scared of things excessive consumption of alcohol can make a person do. I have been drunk at least once in my life and a few things happened that I’m not quite proud of. I thank God however that I have never been in a state in which I couldn’t remember things I did or said while intoxicated. What I’m trying to say is, I’m the kind of guy who likes assuming what he does whether it is good or bad; so if you ever saw me in a club doing my “dancing queen”, or as Burundians would say dancing “nk’uwimuka” (as if it’s my last day around), please be advised that I was very aware of what I was doing.
Now let’s flip the other side of the coin…
When I became born-again, I became exposed to a lot of teaching and met a lot of people who claimed that alcohol consumption was evil. Some went so far as to condemning touching of bottles of beer or anything alcoholic. But I had read my Bible (all of it!) and it clearly said that the condemnable behaviour was excessive consumption of food and drink… ANY drinks! So I was confused… I was further confused when I met Pastors (mostly outside Burundi) who enjoyed a good glass of wine or a pint of beer. But my confusion ended when a (Burundian) Pastor explained that the reason why some Churches – especially in Africa – preach against the consumption of alcohol is because many people have a problem with limiting their consumption so they might as well tell them not to take any. This makes sense.
And it is true, many Africans – well let me say Burundians – do have a problem with alcohol! In fact, most of them actually praise it! They will go as far as saying a function was not a success because there was no alcohol! Really?! So two people decide to celebrate the fact that they’re going to spend their whole lives together and all you care about is one or two bottles of beer that you can even buy for yourself?!
Others will refuse to buy a drink for anybody who doesn’t drink what they do. And I’m not just speaking of alcohol consumers; I’ve also met a few radical born-again Christians who are like that. So what actually matters to you I ask, what you’re drinking or the quality time you’re spending with the person?!
Back to alcohol consumption and the born-again faith.
The more I spent time with Christians, the more I realised that many believed that the fact of being “free” from alcohol made them pure when it’s in fact the least of God’s worries (well I think). How many know that the radical Islamists who spend their days plotting how to kill “infidels” are absolutely alcohol-free?
I think that many Christians have taken their obsession for alcohol and turned it around into an obsession against alcohol, which clearly means they’re missing the point of their faith… I also can’t go without saying that, according to the Bible, the abuse of soft drinks and any non-alcoholic drinks is also a sin! So if you’re one of them people who drink five bottles of Fanta a day you aren’t doing any favours to your body, and if you end up with diabetes or some disease in a few months, please don’t blame it on the devil, blame it on yourself! And if I were God, I’d blame it on you too!
Anyway, I guess the bottom line is if alcohol makes you do funny things and you can’t control yourself, stay away from it! Also if you care about others, keep them from a drunken state and if they do get drunk, help them limit the damage they can do, if possible…
Now if you’ll allow me, I would like to raise my glass to a sober, responsible World!