Qat is famous for 2 things. One is that it is powerful in Scrabble (yo SOWPOD people!) and the other is that it is infamous in the Horn of Africa. So here is a short essay on Qat, since i have too much time while seated on long distance buses.
Qat, or chat, or tchat (pronounced chart), also known by its scientific name of catha edulis is a plant cultivated in the highland regions of eastern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Grown at altitudes of 1500m to 2800m, the 2m shrubs are grown mainly in Ethiopia, Yemen and Kenya (where it is known as Miraa). From Ethiopia, it is exported daily by truck to neighbouring Somaliland and Djibouti. It is banned in Eritrea.
The consumption of Qat brings about feelings of euphoria in the individual. It is a mild natural stimulant that creates a”high”. The qat itself is bitter tasting, and needs to be chewed on constantly for the effect to take place. Continuously eating the chat leaves will leave the individual oblivious to his surroundings.
It is a pastime that many indulge in, especially in the afternoons. In Ethiopia, qat is sold by the bundle for as cheap as 25 cents USD. Often carries by street vendors, shopkeepers and the like, it can be easily obtained. In Somaliland, colourful green qat booths litter the side of the road, hawking the various grades of chat. In Djibouti, whole shops and other small businesses shut for the afternoon, for the customary qat chewing activity. It is normal to find shopkeepers sprawled on their sides on the ground outside their shops, quietly “grazing” on the qat.
As can be predicted, qat chewing would have serious socio-economic consequences. In Yemen, qat consumption takes up 10% of personal income, and 25% of usable working hours in the afternoon is devoted to chewing. Even in affluent Djibouti, qat is said to be the reason for numerous divorces. Prices of chat here are higher, about 10 times what it is sold for in Ethiopia, where it imports its supply. The main impact of qat...
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