Zambians are generally perceived to be drunkards by neighboring countries. I have been to countless international business gatherings where members from other African countries were shocked that I do not drink. It is apparently unheard of for a Zambian not to drink heavily or at least have a sip of an alcoholic drink every now and then.
I have no problem with someone who gets drunk using his own resources and does not make noise or bother others. Have a blast, I say. I have an issue with those who drink and suddenly decide to be my best friend or think their hands belong on someone else’s body.
I am a teetotaller, not because of my Christian background as most people usually think. My parents do not drink but that, still, is not the reason why I abstain from some bubbly.
I am a teetotaler because of my parents’ neighbor when I was growing up. His name was Mr Petauke. Well, one early morning some commotion outside woke me up. I rushed to see what was going on, only to find Mr Petauke sprawled by the roadside in a drunken stupor. We, the kids, called an adult to come and help since Mr Petauke was not responding to us. Mr Ng’ona tried talking to Mr Petauke to no avail until the latter mumbled “After you help me stand up, tell me ‘eft, ‘ight, ‘eft, ‘ight”. Mr Ng’ona complied. Lo and behold! Mr Petauke started trotting towards his home in a drunken way and he did so the way crabs walk – sideways. He made it home and Mr Ng’ona helped him into bed. Mrs Petauke was nowhere to be seen, maybe she was in her own drunken stupor somewhere.
I was only twelve years old but I vowed that day to never drink because I did not like the look of Mr Petauke. My young mind also told me that I would be more at risk if I passed out since I am female. That was decades ago and I have kept my word. Alcohol just does not make sense to me. I had one glass of wine a few years ago and I hated it – the smell was and continues to be horrible to me and the taste was no better. The dizziness I felt was also not worth it. So, the reason for me being a teetotaler is actually quite simple – the vision of a passed-out Mr Petauke.
If you drink the much sought after bubbly, cheers to you. If you do not drink, well, cheers to you too.