Africans are robbing graves to produce ‘cannibal fent’

A Black Kush user shows a drug-induced blister at a facility in Sierra Leone. The drug reportedly leaves people with swollen extremities and organ failure. AP Photo: Misper Apawu, AP

In Sierra Leone, African Blacks as young as 13 have resorted to digging up corpses and grinding human bones in order to manufacture the latest killer drug known as ‘kush.”

  • Kush, the latest drug to take Africa by storm, is known to be a derivative of cannabis blended with synthetic drugs and other chemicals like fentanyl, tramadol, and formaldehyde. Due to a severe uptick in deaths stemming from kush use, Sierra Leone’s President, Julius Maada Bio, declared a state of emergency in April.
  • The drug is said to make users “lethargic, desperate, and ill.” Other symptoms of Kush addiction include swollen extremities, festering sores, and organ failure. While treatment is hard to come by in Africa, some areas have found success in chaining abusers in concrete rooms until they beat their addictions.
  • The drug has grown in popularity due to its inexpensive nature. According to social workers tasked with fighting the proliferation of kush, some African villages have reportedly dug up graves in order to siphon embalming chemicals out of the recently deceased to be reused in Kush production.

The conversation: Kush has been widely adopted by the youth of Sierra Leone, a place where health services and other programs to help fight addiction are close to non-existent.

  • “We are witnessing the destructive consequences of kush on our country’s very foundation, our young people,” said President Bio, who would “declare war” on the drug.
  • “It’s making young people drop out of college, and it’s having a physical effect on their health. You can see they have swollen feet, they have multiple organ failures, they’re involved in crimes…It’s a very serious situation. It’s creating family disintegration, problems in communities, and they’re dying every day,” said Ansu Konneh, director of mental health at Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Social Welfare.
  • “Every community in Sierra Leone, not just in Freetown, has been hit by kush, and it’s tearing them apart…there’s no way to address it,” said Prince Bull-Luseni, director of the West Africa Drug Policy Network to AP.
Infographic: UNODC World Drug Report 2020

By the numbers: The continent of Africa continues to stun the world with record-high rates of substance abuse.

  • Cannabis and opioid use rates in West Africa and Central Africa surpass global averages. In 2021, 10% of individuals aged 15 to 64 in this region reported cannabis use, compared to the global estimate of 4.4%, while 1.2% reported opioid use, slightly higher than the global rate of 1.1%.
  • Notably, the majority (70%) of individuals receiving treatment for drug-related issues in Africa are under the age of 35. The UN predicts that by 2030 the number of drug users in Africa will have increased by 40%. While cannabis remains the most widely used drug in Africa, meth and ecstasy remain a close second.
  • According to a report by DW, the coastal town of Malindi in Kenya— a transit point for international traffickers heading West from Afghanistan—up to 3,000 drug-injecting users were said to have inhabited the town, with many of them among the population’s youngest.

Why it’s important: Many African countries have taken sides in the latest Cold War, which includes Russia, China, and the United States vying for influence. Sierra Leone has long been aligned with the West and receives massive investments to ensure “democracy” and “human rights” go unimpeded.

  • According to an analysis by Afrobarometer, the United States outranks China as a positive influence in Sierra Leone, with many residents believing China plays a negative role in the future of the country.
  • Despite this, Sierra Leone has taken billions of dollars in investment from the East, including $4 billion in Sierra Leone’s extractive, infrastructure, and agriculture sectors.
  • Sierra Leone currently owes $78 million to China, which is equivalent to just 2.5% of the government’s total public debt.

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