July 5, 2010 – Bamzi is bugging Madtraxx. He has an idea for a song and wants the super producer to start working on it immediately.
“You’re messing up my steez (chill time),” says Madtraxx. But they laugh about it. They can laugh about it. It wasn’t always like that…
If it was about two years ago, Madtraxx would probably laugh too, but maybe while keeping a watchful eye on Bamzi – just in case he ‘flipped’. Madtraxx is happy to have his ‘big brother’ back.
Bamzi, born Harrison Muniu, came out of rehab about one year ago. It wasn’t the first rehabilitation facility he had visited. Just the only one he had never run away from and perhaps the only one where he had never tried to take his life.
He was given a clean bill of health in November, 2009. But it’s only now that the popular musician and radio presenter has stopped having sleepless nights.
And the dreams – those horrible nightmares, as he described them, ended just a few months ago.
“I released my first track from my new album today (Friday),” he tells Capital Lifestyle smiling. “We have like 13 tracks ready, but we’re still doing so much music.”
He looks happy and confident, and the gap between his top front teeth makes him look about five years younger than he really is. He speaks loudly, but it’s not bravado. There’s pain in there…
“I have hurt a lot of people, especially my family. I did not mean to do that. It’s just so hard to explain how crazy drug addiction can make someone,” he says.
“I would wake up every morning just thinking of how to get a hit. I didn’t want food. I wanted to be alone. The only people I would hang out with were addicts like me. It’s like you’re slave to the drug. Nothing else matters…”
It started by tasting. It was given to him by a friend, and it made him feel so good, that he soon became hooked. Bamzi was addicted to a cocktail of drugs, the most lethal among them being heroin and crack cocaine.
“I would spend about Sh20,000 everyday. And it’s not the kind of thing, where you think about tomorrow. If you have money, you buy as many grams as you can. Then you can even take a hit every half-hour. If you don’t have money, you try and get at least one hit a day,” he explains.
Bamzi’s constant need for a high came at a massive cost. The high was only in his mind, because the rest of his being was surrounded by lows. He lost his radio job, his girlfriend of five years, his friends and since he would not even think about his music, his career went down the drain as well.
“I had spoken to my former boss and was given three months leave to fight off the addiction, but I messed it up.”
Bamzi narrated to me that kicking such an addiction is far from easy.
“First there is detox, where basically, you’re given the drug you have been taking in reducing capacity. After that, you have sessions with other addicts, where you admit you are an addict and share your experiences.”
“I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If I knew back then that I had the condition, things might have been different. My emotions used to fluctuate dramatically and so I would use the drugs to get high, to take me out of the low moods.”
Addiction, according to Wikipedia, could refer to either substance dependence or behavioural addiction. Helpguide.org portrays people who are addicted as having an overwhelming, uncontrollable need for drugs, or alcohol, even in the face of negative consequences.
“Things got from bad to worse. I was not in control of things anymore. I began to flip. I would steal things from the house, shirk my responsibilities; my family couldn’t take it anymore.”
When the first two rehab centres did not work, Bamzi found himself at the Mathare Mental hospital, sharing jail cells with criminals’ whose sanity was being evaluated. He had never been so scared in his life. But he had to act tough because that was the only way he would make it out of there alive. He almost didn’t.
“It was terrible. At one point, I got into a fight and hurt an inmate very badly with a metal plate. I was denied the daily dose of sunlight. I thought my life could not get any worse and decided it was time to end it.”
He used a bed-sheet to try and hang himself in his cell, and he was rescued by a warder – just in time. Shortly after that he was moved to another rehab facility.
During the recovery process, which took about six months, Bamzi describes the hardest exercise as having to look in the mirror and say positive things about himself.
“You just can’t bring yourself to do it. You can’t even look at yourself…”
Bamzi soon realised that his life was spiralling out of control and he needed to get it back together before it was too late.
“I saw some terrible things… There was this couple that I sometimes used to get high with. The guy would drive his girlfriend to lodgings where she would sell her body to other men, so that they could get money to get high.”
Bamzi is grateful to those close to him, for helping to get him out of that darkness.
“At this place where most people would buy the drugs, the loos were filthy. Drugs make you constipated and so being able to do a number two was crucial. Sometimes, because there was no tissue, you would get skid marks on the wall mixed with blood. It was the disgusting, the lowest of the low. I wondered what I was doing there…”
Thank goodness Mr Muniu is healthy now. He works out, eats right and feels like he has a new lease in life. His insatiable appetite now revolves around food and music.
“I have all these tunes that I am working on. I have so much energy. And one other thing that I really love to do nowadays is eat. It feels so good to eat, like you wouldn’t believe,” he says laughing.
Madtraxx was present during the interview, and he was laughing too.