Ngilimbo: Drug from Malawi selling like hot cakes in Tanzania and SA


A local intoxicative drug popularly termed, in Karonga as ‘Ngilimbo’ is fast becoming favorite for drug addicts in Tanzania and South Africa.

The ‘Malawian cocaine’ as celebrated by its darlings, has made its way to these two countries owing to what druggists claim to be its high intoxicating abilities.

“You just put it underneath your tongue. Wait for few minutes. And, then, boom! You’re in cloud nine,” said one of the exporters of the drug in Karonga.

“I’ve clients spread across Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa. It’s a lucrative business. I’ve bought houses in Mzuzu and here in Karonga through it.”

Europeans and Asians alike are equally good customers. As the druggist put it. These overseas clients are the most paying and, above all, reliable.

“Unlike fellow Africans. These guys can buy in large quantities and pay you real cash. This drug is more than any exotic one like cocaine. It has no side effects as it acts as medicine on the other hand,” added the druggist aged 30.

This reporter went undercover to establish how this drug is being exported to other countries given its illicitness.

“Well, apart from exporting it through uncharted routes to Tanzania, we send truck drivers who deliver it to our clients there. We’ve other transporters who are our partners. So, that’s not an issue,” said the exporter.

“For South Africa. We send through transporters as well. Those are our partners. Sometimes we send it in bags of flour and all that till our clients their gets it.”

And, how do these illicit drug suppliers find clients outside the country?

“Simple! Good things market themselves. Some Malawians took it to such countries. When they shared it to others there, we didn’t find problems marketing it,” he revealed.

“We’ve reached the extent where hundreds of clients seek for our drug through our social media platforms. Marketing is made easy with social media. We’ve WhatsApp forums and all that.”

On an average day, as this supplier puts it, they cash in about MK200,000 and beyond.

“All we’re asking from the government is to set us free. This is not an illicit drug. It’s a local science. Let them allow us just as they’ve allowed cannabis. We make minimal profits because we’ve to smuggle it to such countries,” he pleaded.

“We’re ready to get licences from drug bodies. Otherwise, this is our business.”

The drug, according to one of the consumers in Karonga, a bicycle taxi operator, is an energy booster.

He disclosed that, just like farmers he knows, he has to take the drug before starting his day.

“For hard labourers, this is the drug that eases our work. You don’t get tired. It’s an energy and power booster. You’d work for hours without tiring,” said one of the addicts.


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