Comedy critic Kate Copstick: Kenya rant

Kate Copstick

Kate Copstick – from vomiting to spitting proverbial blood

Kate Copstick is currently in Kenya working with her Mama Biashara charity.

In a blog a week ago, she took something which appeared to be paan in Mombasa.

It turned her purple and made her vomit copiously.

Now she is back in Nairobi…

What follows is extracted from the diary which she has been posting on the Mama Biashara Facebook page.


It turns out that the chewie stuff I had in Mombasa is actually called kuber. And is quite hard hitting stuff. It packs serious quantities of THC plus a load of other psychotropic hooha. And it comes mixed with the chewing tobacco the peeps in the cafe showed me. Apparently regular chewing gives you all manner of ghastliness including oral cancer. But I assume, by that time, you are so comprehensively removed from reality that you don’t care…


I talk to Monica The Dress. Her brother (59) has just been diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer. The doctor announced this to him while explaining that, if anything was to be done, he had better pay £5,000 immediately. That was just so the doc could tell him he is dying. Then another £4,000 for a CT scan … and another £5,000 for a doctor to explain the CT scan.

His family organised a fundraising to take him to India for treatment (what anyone with any money here does) but did not get enough and so he has just left for Uganda where a doctor has decreed that he will remove the man’s testicles for a fee.


Oh please, please, please let this week not go on as it has started.

I get into the Treasury Department. There are five elevators. One is for goods, three are for normal mortals and one is for VIPs. The VIP elevator has gold doors. Not solid, one assumes, or they would have been stolen. But shining golden doors nevertheless. I want to spit. But I don’t. I get to the twelfth floor, get directions and go to Mr Wanyambura’s office. No queues, no, nothing really. I realise very quickly that there would be no point in any queues.

I explain my presence in his office. I tell him about the irritating scrawny woman and the £50 fine / tax / scam / bribe. I tell him what scrawny woman said and what the Revenue and Customs brochure says about an exemption certificate.

“Ah,” he says, in that way that Kenya people in any position of any kind of authority have when they are about to sting you for some money or deliberately piss in your Sugar Pops just for fun. “Ah. That is where it becomes difficult.”

What passes for my hackles raised themselves.

“We no longer give exemption certificates. By order of the Government.” He leaves the room and comes back with a photocopy of a letter that does indeed state that the Government has ordered that there will be no tax exemption of charitable donations. The tax should be paid – wait for it – by the BENEFICIARIES. I explain that my beneficiaries are mainly on the street, penniless, frequently homeless. He shrugs.

He tells me how he cried when the rule came in. How his boss cried. There is, apparently, no lower limit for this tax on help. And so one tub of cod liver oil… one packet of sanitary towels… and the Kenyan Government – one of the most appallingly corrupt institutions in the world, one which is currently harbouring a woman who has presided over 271 MILLION shillings disappearing from her department and whose regional outposts in the country have squandered and stolen their way to a debt of untold BILLIONS with utter impunity – will want to get its pudgy, filthy, criminal fingers on its cut.

The depth and the breadth of the government’s crimes against their electorate are quite quite unbelievable. These politicians make our lot seem positively benign. Tony Blair would fit well with them – but, compared to the Kenyan government, Dave Cameron and his pals are schoolboys playing naughty games on the pupils from the girls’ school next door.

I am white hot with rage. And utterly impotent.

As I walk through the winding pathways of the Westlands Triangle, one of the women tells me to watch my bag. I look. Someone (no doubt in town) has taken a Stanley knife and slashed it. The idea is they slash the bag and everything drops out and you walk on unaware. But my lovely neoprene bag, bought in Age UK for £2 is too tough for them. The slash only made it to the third layer and my belongings are all safe. I love that bag though.

So, all in all, Monday is not shaping up well.

I am considering a plangent letter to the Department of Overseas Development. I am entirely unsure that people are generally aware of this new rule… Suddenly I realise why people chew kuber.

1 Comment

Filed under Kenya

One response to “Comedy critic Kate Copstick: Kenya rant

  1. Owen Morgan

    God Bless you Kate- stay strong, it’s what Medecins Sans Frontieres have to cope with all the time. You are doing a brilliant job, may the Lord help you in the work you are doing.

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