Toxic Booze Kills 40 Ugandans

Victims of adulterated spirits include much-loved radio host
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2009 3:54 AM CDT
Ugandans chat in a bar under candle light in Kampala.   (AP Photo/Vanessa Vick)
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(Newser) – Toxic alcohol has killed at least 40 drinkers in the last month in the the African party capital of Kampala, where all-night bars sell cheap spirits. Among the victims who suffered sudden blindness followed by organ failure was one of the country's best-loved media personalities, lonely-hearts radio host DJ Ronnie, reports the Independent.

Plastic sachets of "waragi"—a word that can cover any kind of spirit—can be bought almost anywhere for pennies. Ugandans, who have the highest rate of alcohol consumption in the world, have fiercely resisted government efforts to regulate the production and sale of spirits, despite the deaths. "I don't see Ugandans giving up their waragi," said a drinker in one of the late DJ's favorite haunts. "It is part of life." But for now, he says, he's sticking to beer.