Advances in Psychology and Neuroscience
Volume 2, Issue 2-1, March 2017, Pages: 7-14

Emerging Perspectives on Drugs of Abuse: A Focus on Gadagi Consumption in Kano, Nigeria

Aminu Mohammed Dukku

Department of Sociology, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria

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To cite this article:

Aminu Mohammed Dukku. Emerging Perspectives on Drugs of Abuse: A Focus on Gadagi Consumption in Kano, Nigeria. Advances in Psychology and Neuroscience. Special Issue: Substance Abuse: Perspectives, Trends, Issues and the Way Forward. Vol. 2, No. 2-1, 2017, pp. 7-14.

Received: September 24, 2016; Accepted: September 30, 2016; Published: February 14, 2017

Abstract: This article investigated the consumption of gadagi (alysicarpus ovalifloius) in Kano, Nigeria. Appealing to many, especially of gullible youths, its emergence and popularization were traced. Due to its popularization, individuals within the neighborhoods become prone to gadagi and vulnerable to some masked risks and deviant acts. Using anomie, availability-proneness and differential association theories, the widespread use of gadagi was contextualized. The possible connections between its emergence/popularization and its derivable benefits, availability and easy access, the rapid flow of information about it and its attractive force to consumers (mostly youths in labor-intensive or physically-challenging jobs) were also explored. Simple random and stratified sampling techniques were used to select participants for the study. Five hundred (500) questionnaires were administered, and twenty (20) key informants were interviewed. Phytochemical analysis of gadagi was also conducted. The results show widespread consumption among single and the married persons aged 15 to 30 years. The preliminary phytochemical screening reveals the presence of stimulating chemicals in gadagi capable of igniting pleasure-seeking behavior that can lead to the risk of addiction. Likewise, the emergence of its consumption and popularization is also related to the community acceptance gadagi has, and the fact that the chief driving group of its consumers – commercial motorcyclists – is mobile implying that they are always on the move transporting passengers. It’s availability in numerous locations and unsanctioned production and sale has also made its use attractive.

Keywords: Anomie, Availability, Kano Metropolitan Area, Stimulants

1. Introduction

The use of gadagi (Alysicarpus ovalifloius) tea has a wide appeal and acceptance among many people in Kano especially those in labor-intensive occupations (Abdullahi, 2003). This has been established despite the existence of several other traditional consumables in use before gadagi emerged. Gadagi refers to a drink or tea prepared from gadagi leaves by boiling for a certain period (far longer than boiling ordinary tea) together with other ingredients believed to increase energy and the ability to endure hardship towards goal attainment (Abdullahi, 2003). It was introduced in Kano more than fifty years ago and sold at specific spots for a specified price starting from as low as 20 Naira (roughly a quarter dollar) in anticipation of benefits by users (Dukku, 2012). Some of the ingredients used in preparing the drink are mango, guava and banana leaves. Others are paw-paw leaves, garlic powder, ginger, sugar and eucalyptus leaves). At times, other highland tea brands and some plants are added too (Mohammed, 2009, Atiku, et al; 2009). Consumers take gadagi for extra energy and to stay alert and active with a belief that it is medicinal and that it increases alertness (Dukku, 2010). However, beyond the acclaimed benefits, the use of gadagi is reported to be tied to various problems to both users and the public. Against this background, this paper explains the possible connections between the consumption of gadagi and the problems that follow. The article is divided into sections: the introduction section, objectives/hypotheses, statement of the problem, conceptual clarifications, the theoretical framework, methods and the results sections. The conclusions and recommendations sections formed the last parts.

Gadagi Use in Perspective

The use of leaves, roots, barks or chips of a tree and other related herbs in powdered form, fresh or dried is not new in Nigeria, not to mention the use of modern drugs (be it prescription or over-the-counter drugs). Gradually, the scope and patterns of drug use have considerably widened across societies to include the use of strange types of substances and consumables. These include solvents, glue, perfumes, offensive smell from pit latrines, gadagi, etc. (Umar et al., 2010). Even cough syrups are indiscriminately used as intoxicants especially among the youths. Following the emergence of gadagi and its appeal spread to many users especially those in occupations like transport work/driving (bus, taxi and truck); commercial motorcycling (a huge business in Kano until its ban in 2012), wood cutting and splitting, load-carrying/pushing using cart or wheel barrow, brick-laying, laundry work, car wash, etc. Other categories of gadagi users include night-watchmen, street beggars, water-carriers and vendors/hawkers, athletes and footballers, roadside petroleum sellers, and even students (Abdullahi, 2003; Garba, 2003).

Studies have revealed that while some people consume gadagi to allegedly get rid of some ailments, others take it to achieve a combined reaction of alertness, awakeness and attentiveness (Abdullahi, 2003). Many people become prone as it is available and relatively cheap. In addition, seeking extra-push and extra vitality, consumers rush to patronize the gadagi tea cafés before going for their quests; believing that they always feel strong and able to work for hours, whenever they take it (Suleiman, 2010). As such, most consumers, particularly motorcyclists, attribute their ability to work without fatigue to the gadagi tea. Studies have further shown that people hold separate but similar views on gadagi. It has been classified as an indigenous drug, a traditional stimulant preparation and as a tea that acts as a stimulant that excites users by alleviating fatigue and increasing alertness (Abdullahi, 2003; Adamu, 2002).

2. Objectives and Hypotheses

Investigating the use of gadagi in Kano despite immediate and remote consequences served as the broad objective with a focus on seeking explanations on the possible connections between gadagi consumption and unwanted behaviors that trail behind. Along these lines, specific objectives were also set including determining the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of gadagi consumers in Kano; explaining the popularization and widespread of gadagi consumption; and examining the effects of gadagi consumption. Similarly, apart from the central assumption on existing relationship between gadagi consumption and deviant behaviors of consumers, this paper had hypothesized that individuals with higher levels of education are less likely to consume gadagi; individuals whose friends take gadagi are more likely to take gadagi; the availability and easy access to gadagi predisposes to its consumption; and that individuals that live with their parents are less likely to take gadagi than those who do not live with them.

3. Statement of the Problem

The use of gadagi is high with visible social problems in form of reckless driving and traffic violations resulting in road accidents and fatalities, gang rivalry, inducing fear and relative insecurity to the public, and other disrespectful behaviors. Theft, political thuggery, assault, etc. are not left out too. It is on record that commercial motorcyclists, after taking gadagi, usually display risky, competitive and spectacular riding skills before zooming off for the day’s duty (Adamu and Umar, 2010). Some of truck and bus drivers, conductors and commercial motorcyclists, drive recklessly, violating traffic rules under the influence of gadagi, in order to transport goods and/or many passengers quick enough to earn extra. At some point, residents lament on the rate of gadagi use linking it to high number of road accidents (Radda, 2006).

Thus, similar to problems associated with drug abuse, gadagi consumption and its related influences seem to encourage deviance and other unlawful acts. Its use fuels the disruption of family life, e.g. impaired relationships with family members, poor concentration, indifference to social values and inappropriate anger and hostility. Deviance has been referred to as the forms of conduct defined or reacted to by members of a social system as either wrong, bad, immoral, illegal and/or worthy of condemnation or punishment (Jensen, 2007). The proliferation of street miscreants, the disadvantage of blockage of meaningful use of time, energy and creative thinking, self-discipline and motivation are other problems tied to it. Consequently this results in decline in productivity among youths. In addition, health risks are also associated with gadagi use coupled with security risks associated with the locations where gadagi is sold (Dukku, 2012). The locations provide a fertile ground where opportunists may find potential recruits into different sorts of forms of deviance and/or criminal activities. These and other related issues raise questions that prompted the investigation on gadagi consumption.

4. Conceptual Clarifications

For the purposes of clarity and more insights, below are some key concepts used in the article:

4.1. Kano Metropolitan Area

A metropolitan area refers to a large urban area that includes a city and its surrounding suburbs. The suburbs may be politically separate from their central cities, but socially, economically and geographically tied together (Thio, 2003). Such areas reflect mega-cities as depositories of segments of populations. Kano Metropolitan area fits in this definition consisting of 7 Local Government Areas (LGAs) within and around Kano city. Kano has a very long history of over 1000 years as the capital of the Hausa Kingdom with a population of 2,163,225 (Population and Housing Census, 2006). The state was created in 1967 and currently consists of forty-four Local Government Areas (LGAs). The state has a climate with relatively rapid changes in temperature and humidity, and the year is divided into dry and rainy seasons.

4.2. Stimulants

Stimulants mean drugs, substances and/or consumables that increase body activity by producing greater alertness; when taken they cause a person to act faster than usual. They are substances that stimulate the central nervous system; they are performance enhancers and promote wakefulness (Abdullahi, 2003). Drugs under this category include marijuana, nicotine, cocaine, amphetamines, etc. Stimulants increase the activity of mood elevating regions into the brain, that is, they excite or speed up the central nervous system producing a feeling of mental alertness, excitation, euphoria and wellbeing (Akers, 1992). Generally, they are used for their ability to increase alertness and endurance to keep people awake for a long period of time, to produce feeling of wellbeing. While stimulants are believed to produce severe psychological dependence (Garba, 2003); overdose brings about agitation, increases in body temperature, hallucination and aggression (Odebunmi, 2008; Umar et al., 2010).

5. Theoretical Framework

Explaining the account for a particular social issue such as the use of gadagi requires a highlight on the role played by culture and/or the social structure or social environment, etc. Edwin Sutherland’s differential association theory and Reginald Smart’s availability-proneness theory and others were reviewed. But the views of Robert K. Merton’s social structure and anomie theory were adopted for explanations. The theory started with Durkheim’s notion of anomie depicting a social condition in which the social structure exerts pressure on individuals who cannot attain the cultural goal of success, leading them to engage in nonconforming behavior (Hughes et al., 1999). In the same vein, it had been advanced that absence of norms to control behavior is likely to lead to self-destructive and other expected forms of deviant behaviors, including drug abuse (Guerrero, 2005; Akers, 1992).

Merton’s Theory and the Subculture of Gadagi Consumption

While Merton (1938) applied the anomie perspective on the United States, this study used the theory to describe gadagi consumption in Kano, noting that people are pushed by strong socio-structural strains toward adapting to non-conformity, for example, the use of drugs and drug-related consumables like gadagi. As such, gadagi consumption in Kano reflects a manifestation of Merton’s form of adaptation: innovation. Truck and bus drivers, conductors and commercial motorcyclists, for instance, may drive recklessly, violating traffic rules under the influence of gadagi, in order to transport goods and/or many passengers quick enough to earn more money. Kano society has been depicted as a center of economic and political activities characterized by a contemporary map of youth deviance. At a point, the use of gadagi was portrayed as an occupational deviance (Abdullahi, 2007). In Kano, the gadagi subculture somewhat resembles a group of people with common patterned norms and values tied to the consumption of gadagi. Truck and bus drivers, conductors, tailors, cart pushers, loaders, hunters, etc. use gadagi to enable them to work harder and become materially successful amidst urban struggles. Following revelations of the phytochemical screening, gadagi preparations have both pharmacological and stimulating characteristics typical of drugs of abuse. This exposes gadagi, in itself, as a stimulant capable of producing effects that can influence behavior, let alone combined with other drugs.

Complementarily, the differential association and availability-proneness theories provide explanations towards a better understanding of gadagi consumption in Kano. In essence, the theories have provided insights on peer group influences, easy access and the lower cost of gadagi, as they pave the way for gadagi consumption. The data, in line with the propositions of the two theories, have identified the influences of friends, curiosity, availability of gadagi-selling locations and cheap gadagi and by extension unveiled the practical relevance of the two theories in explaining gadagi consumption.

6. Methods

Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. A sample of 520 participants that comprised 500 consumers, 10 sellers and 10 officials from relevant agencies as key informants was drawn. Stratified sampling procedure was adopted in the selection process which involved taking an inventory of all gadagi selling locations (92) within the Kano Metropolitan area. The locations were stratified into high, medium and low categories. Using a random selection method, 9, 7, and 4 gadagi selling locations were selected proportionately from the high, medium and low categories, respectively. Overall, 20 gadagi-selling locations were randomly selected by picking from a pool of folded papers identified by the names of all the identified locations across the stratified categories until the desired number of 20 locations was achieved. The defining features of the stratified categories considered were the number of available seats, pots, the turnout of the consumers and other utensils needed for the preparation of gadagi at the locations. Other features considered in the definitions were the number of motorcycles parked at a particular location, the length of operating hours spent selling gadagi, the different number of the types sold, the number of assistants available per location, etc. Based on availability, 25 consumers were drawn from each of the 20 locations totaling 500 consumers. Likewise, the 10 of those who prepare and sell gadagi were selected based on availability across the stratified categories.

All instruments were designed in English language and administered with the help of trained research assistants. The questionnaire instrument (consisting of both open and close-ended items) targeted the gadagi consumers while the in-depth interview guide targeted the gadagi sellers and selected officials in the agencies considered relevant to the study. The two instruments were also supplemented by researcher observations and secondary data from relevant publications, related journals, gazettes, etc. The agencies comprise the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Drug Management Agency (DMA), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Adolescent Health Information Project (AHIP), the HISBAH Board and Bayero University Kano (BUK). Preliminary phytochemical screening was conducted that determined the phytochemical composition of gadagi using six selected types: Magani, Habal, Sada, Sudan, Baki and Bauri obtained from Kofar Wambai Market, Kano. The screening on the samples was conducted in collaboration with some staff of the Department of Biological Science, Bayero University. With the use of trained personnel, the data were appropriately organized, coded, transcribed, interpreted and analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 16.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, USA).

7. Results

The study had established widespread use of gadagi involving single (50.2%) male youths especially commercial motorcyclists (45.2%) between the ages of 15-30 years (67%); though the married (43%) consume it too. Majority of the consumers (81.6%) have low educational attainment.

In addition, despite the area of study being male-dominated in which consumers fall largely in male-dominated occupations, gadagi consumption is not an exclusively male phenomenon – females/women too consume it. Peer group influence, curiosity, availability and easy access, economic hardship and desirable benefits, motivated by occupational demands, were strong predisposing factors for consumption (Dukku, 2012). Gadagi became popular because producing, selling and consuming it are not sanctioned; it is cheap and available at all times and the locations serve as points of social networking. There is rapid flow of information about gadagi because those in the chief driving group (commercial motorcyclists) are mobile – always moving along the streets within the metropolis transporting passengers. Though most occupations of majority of the users were labor-intensive, others in non-labor intensive occupations take it too e.g. civil servants, bankers, recharge card sellers, etc. Contrary to popular views, some consumers take other things in addition to gadagi. This leaves the risk of progressing into other pleasurable substances thereby exposing gadagi as a stepping stone to other drugs. This also supports the view on the possible connection between its use and deviance.

Table 1. Background Characteristics of Respondents.

Sex Frequency %
Males 482 96.4
Females 18 3.6
Marital Status Frequency %
Single 251 50.2
Married 214 42.8
Education Frequency %
Qur’anic Only 62 12.4
Primary Incomplete 52 10.4
Primary Complete 71 14.2
Secondary Incomplete 93 18.6
Secondary Complete 130 26.0
Occupation Frequency %
Motorcycling (Achaba) 226 45.2
Bus/Taxi/Truck Driving 55 11.0
Wood-cutting/Splitting 09 1.6
Trading 73 14.6
Load carrying/pushing 34 6.8
Brick-laying 25 5.0
Student 44 8.8
Others 34 6.8
Total 500 100

Source: Author’s Field Survey, 2011

A look at the existing gadagi-selling locations in Kano serves to further explain gadagi consumption. Lack of organized data about the number of locations and their operations for decision making and planning at the State level is apparent. This comes in at a time when it is evidently clear that societies that do not have adequate and relevant data on youth and youth-related activities/engagements usually carry the heaviest burdens of emerging youth-related backlash/eventualities (Umar, 2004). As at the year 2011, up to ninety two (92) selling locations were identified across the Metropolitan LGAs with more locations found in Kano Municipal and Fagge LGAs than in any other LGA and the larger concentration of residences of consumers were found within the City Walls. A majority (62%) of the gadagi locations have been found to be operating for ten years as at the year 2011 followed by 33% of the locations that had been operating for between 11 and 20 years.

Table 2. Preliminary Phytochemical Analysis of Selected Gadagi Types.

Gadagi Samples Phytochemicals
Alkaloids Flavonoids Glycosides Reducing Sugar Saponins Steroid Resins
Magani + + + +
Habal + + + + +
Sada + + + + +
Sudan + + + +
Baki + + + +
Bauri + + + +

The phytochemical screening reveal selected samples of gadagi containing properties with pharmacological and stimulating effects like alkaloids, flavonoids and steroids among others. Some of those chemicals are believed to be toxic and typical of drugs of abuse, thereby exposing gadagi as a stimulant capable of producing effects that can influence behavior. Steroids, specifically, are believed to have effects on the CNS similar to the effects typically found in Indian hemp (Kris, Hart and Ray, 2008). The screening shows the presence of saponins believed to have red cell destroying effects and anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulating activity (Kris, Hart and Ray, 2008). Other chemicals found in gadagi like reducing sugar come along with energy boosting effects. These raise the concerns for masked and/or suppressed problems that may emerge later in life due to gadagi consumption. And this also lends support to the position on the possible connection between the use of gadagi and users’ unwanted behaviors. As such, for this study, such concerns prompt the consideration of categorizing gadagi as a stimulant. Other studies had elsewhere termed gadagi as both an indigenous drug (Adamu, 2002) and a traditional stimulant (Abdullahi, 2003) respectively.

8. Discussion

This sub-section is a discussion of the major findings covering the thematic study areas in line with the study objectives, the literature and conceptual issues addressed.

8.1. The Demographic and Socio-Economic Characteristics of Gadagi Consumers

To explain the phenomenon of gadagi consumption in Kano, understanding some aspects like the background characteristics of the individuals involved and the forces that influence their behavior is vital. The results on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of gadagi consumers indicate that a considerable majority are males (96%), single (50%), youths aged 15-29 years (62%) though the married (43%) too consume gadagi. Their mean age was 26 years. Thus, overwhelmingly, gadagi consumers are males even though females, too, consume it. The explanations tied to this finding are that the occupations linked to the demand for gadagi are mainly male-dominated (e.g. motorcycling, cart-pushing, fire-wood cutting, etc.). As such, males are more exposed to situations that propel the demand for gadagi use. Secondly, gadagi-selling locations are typically in open spaces and streets. Therefore, due to culture and religion, this disposition doesn’t give women the opportunity to patronize the locations as male consumers, thereby limiting female exposure to gadagi. Thirdly, the fact that in Kano males are more mobile than females restricts female proneness to gadagi consumption. The study has also determined that the consumption age category of 15-29 years is an age bracket that covers active youths who work all day and therefore need something to energize them in the course of their work. Previous findings on youth proneness to drug abuse (e.g. Pela and Ebie, 1980, 1982; Radda, 1994; Feagin and Feagin, 1997; Abdullahi, 2003; Umar, 2004, etc.) are supported.

As observed during the study, most of the consumers were split between Complete Secondary School Education and Incomplete Primary School Education. A portion also had either Incomplete Secondary School Education (18.6%) or incomplete Primary School education (10.4%). Those found in the two groupings of Incomplete Secondary and Primary School Education dropped out or could not continue with their education for various reasons. A few of the consumers (12%) also had Qur’anic education only. As such, a majority could be said to have had Secondary School Education and below. This places them in a position of high proneness to gadagi consumption. Therefore, the results suggest a difference between low educational attainment and gadagi use: low education results in high gadagi consumption. The results show a remarkable drop in gadagi consumption with increasing levels of education.

From the results, it has also been established that commercial motorcycling (achaba, okada, going, kabu-kabu) (45%) is the major occupation of gadagi consumers. This position is consistent with that of Abdullahi (2003), DanAsabe (2004) and Garba (2003). Other major occupations are labor-intensive comprising of trading, driving (bus/taxi/truck); load-carrying/pushing, brick-laying and wood cutting/splitting accordingly. Consumers were also found to be involved in laundry work, farming, carpentry, tailoring and car-wash business. Revelations of the cross tabulations indicate that more than half of the consumers in commercial motorcycling (57%), bus/taxi/truck driving (55%), load-carrying/pushing (67.6%) and brick-laying (60%) take gadagi twice a day. However, while it is evidently clear that most of the occupations of the consumers were labor-intensive, it is equally revealing to find consumers in occupations other than labor-intensive ones like civil service, recharge card business, barbing, etc. using gadagi. The qualitative data establishes that even students and those in white-collar jobs such as bankers and policemen take it.

The data on consumers’ income suggest an indication of stable income for most of them. Although 28.6% earn less than N5, 000, 22% and 15% earn between N5, 001 – N10, 000 and N10, 001 – N15, 000 respectively, as much as 25% of the sample earn more than N20, 000 monthly. An average monthly income of N12, 000 (N144, 000 per annum) for gadagi consumers was established. Generally, the income rankings place the consumers as earners with relatively stable incomes to sustain gadagi consumption. This implies that income has a more direct influence on consumption than the variable, availability and easy access. The fact that consumers were largely organized around occupational engagements with corresponding income could perhaps explain the positive relationship. Most are productive and live within a society characterized by economic activities. The interplay between enterprising consumers and a promising platform of economic activities for which the society (Kano) has been known for, provided the basis for the flourishing and sustenance of gadagi consumption.

8.2. The Emergence of Gadagi Consumption

Explaining the emergence and popularization of gadagi consumption in the Kano Metropolitan area prompted the need for in-depth interviews and researcher reviews of related documents. The popular position with regard to the emergence of gadagi has been that it started over fifty years ago (In-depth Interview with Malam Baba Isa, May 2011). The gadagi tea business was believed to be pioneered by one, Malam Baba Isa, who was documented to be producing/preparing and selling gadagi tea for over fifty years. This means that the first gadagi-selling location was established around 1963. Historically, Malam Baba Isa started by serving the tea to his friends and sons and then resorted to selling it to other people who liked it. The findings reveal that gadagi is not something new and it wasn’t called gadagi in the first place. It was referred to as "shayi" (tea) but gradually consumers coined the popular name, gadagi for it. Consumers call it gadagi because of the derivable benefits of endurance in trekking long distances, farm work, laundry work and other activities for a good time. As the gadagi business gradually increased, several locations emerged with more interested consumers. Another version of its emergence narrates that it is a Hausa term derived from an exclamation ‘’Yanzu Naji Gadagau’’, commonly used by a particular consumer long ago. The exclamation means "I am now fully energized." Later, that phrase was modified to become gadagi. Another version stressed that gadagi originated from the Niger Republic; it has also been linked to the Republics of Cameroon, Chad, the Sudan and even some other parts of the Arab region. In fact, this version has traced that gadagi is said to be a product of the influence of the Azbinawa and Agalawa spread across the Republics of Cameroon, Chad and Niger who periodically cross over into Nigeria (Abdullahi, 2003).

Gradually, these categories of people introduced it into Nigeria. Notwithstanding the origin, similar to the age-long conventional tea selling business, gadagi is like any other traditional beverage produced in communities. Though other consumables exist before it, as indicated by Abdullahi (2003) and Dan Asabe (2004), it has become one of the most available products in the Kano Metropolitan area with its consumption resembling an acceptable activity in Kano society. It is easily accessible, with little or no prohibition on the production, consumption, the places and times of purchase. In addition, the product is relatively cheap within the disposable incomes of most consumers and is not produced in modern distilleries yet. Therefore, from what is a traditional drink consumed mostly by those in labor-intensive jobs for medicinal purposes, gadagi has come to achieve the status of a ‘popular friend’ to many young and adults, male and female. As observed by many urban residents, it has become more than a medicinal drink; it seems to provide relief from anxiety and tension associated with the city bustle and economic hardships. Thus, gadagi could be said to be taken by hundreds of consumers (Sulaiman, 2001) for both recreational and instrumental purposes.

8.3. The Popularization of Gadagi Consumption

The results show that gadagi has enjoyed wide popularity in Kano. Its popularization is heightened by its attractive force to consumers who are mostly the youths and largely being involved in labor-intensive or physically-challenging jobs. This position is further strengthened by emphasizing that such jobs leave the youths as vulnerable to cases of piles, fatigue, weakness of the body and other ailments (Sulaiman, 2012). Therefore, those in the commercial motorcycling business, driving, brick-laying, etc. find gadagi consumption highly rewarding, beneficial and motivational in their difficult jobs, making it popular with them because it increases agility, boosts their ego and pushes them to work harder. This corresponds with the findings by Abdullahi (2003) that with the use of gadagi consumers achieve purposes like stimulation, medication, agitation and the ability to endure any hardship. Thus, following Siegel’s (1998) assertion that individuals learn quickly to reproduce events that bring pleasure, it could be argued that a person involved in gadagi consumption may continue the habit in anticipation of the reward it may ignite. Thus, there is the evidence of increasing gadagi consumption especially among the youths. The qualitative data also reveal that the reasons for the popularization of gadagi consumption are largely due to the benefits of increasing energy and alertness that the tea gives. Taking it guarantees awakeness and alertness coupled with energetic and agile moods. The medicinal expectations were believed to border on the cures for Shawara (Yellow Fever), Basir (Piles), etc. Consumers held the popular belief that gadagi is highly medicinal. The position of the medicinal benefits of gadagi, as reported by a majority of the consumers (66.4%), comprises of increased alertness and enhanced physical performance. In addition, an overwhelming majority of the sample (78.8%) indicated performing better at work after taking gadagi out of which 77.1% take it more than three times and 90.5% thrice a day. No consumer mentioned performing less work after gadagi intake.

Other reasons for the popularization of gadagi include its very low cost, availability and the belief in its user achieving the goal of consumption. With the problems of unemployment and/or poverty among the youths, cheap gadagi available in numerous locations has made it attractive to them. Similarly, the result shows that consumers emphasize on the role of economic hardship that propel youths into gadagi consumption as an escape route. This view corresponds with Merton’s (1938) analysis of anomie and the modes of adaptation. In addition, another factor that contributes to the popularization of gadagi consumption among youths relates to the phasing out of alcohol consumption and the outdated Sukudayi, coupled with the high risks of taking the ‘solution’ (Sholisho) substance. Gadagi locations also serve as points for social networking, as youths cherish hanging out together. The locations provide avenues of meeting and interacting with friends, peers and like-minds among the youths, thereby providing their modern social needs and the avenues for learning from each other. Sutherland (1939) had emphasized on the influences of learning in interaction with intimate others. Youths like clustering together and it [gadagi] brings them together to cool down their tempers, reduce tension and [enable them] work with confidence and power. Smelser (1962) had observed that collective behavior, similar to that of gadagi consumers, usually comes with group solidarity. Smelser further elaborated that the behavior of the living organism is oriented towards the attainment of anticipated ends or goals. Thus, the valued ends provide the broadest guides to purposive behavior [such as gadagi consumption].

The data reveal that due to the fact that gadagi is not made illegal, people feel free to consume it. The popularity has been chiefly associated to the rapid flow of information about it and the derivable benefits it gives to members of the society. Gadagi is very popular. Information about it spreads wide and quickly to others who in turn come to have a taste of it. Through such medium, it gradually gains more popularity. Unlike conventional drug abuse, which is not accepted and prohibited, gadagi consumption has community acceptance; majority of the consumers live with their parents and reported that their parents are aware of their gadagi consumption behavior. In effect, the factors tied to the popularization of gadagi can be summarized as follows:

1.  Rapid flow of information about gadagi, the chief driving group (commercial motorcyclists) are mobile – always moving along the streets within the metropolis transporting passengers;

2.  Its medicinal status, as many believed in its efficacy in handling several ailments, e.g. Piles, Rana, Sanyi, etc.;

3.  Producing, selling and consuming it are not sanctioned; people are free to consume it any time;

4.  It is cheap and available at all times (more than ninety locations exist);

5.  Gadagi locations serve as points of social networking, as youths cherish hanging out together;

6.  The belief in its consumer to achieve the goal of consumption;

7.  Problems of unemployment and/or poverty among the youths, cheap gadagi available in numerous locations has made it attractive to them;

8.  Phasing out alcohol and its consumption, and the outdated Sukudayi, coupled with the high risks of taking ‘solution’ (Sholisho) substance; and

9.  Its attractive force to consumers who are mostly the youths largely being involved in labor-intensive occupations or physically-challenging jobs.

Identifying the predisposing factors for gadagi consumption formed part of the specific objectives of this study. The results clearly reveal several factors attributable to consumption. More relevant among the factors is the advent of okada (achaba) business [i.e. commercial motorcycling], which served a way of exposing gadagi consumption to others. The population of gadagi consumers is a mobile one that shuttles along information about gadagi and its derivable benefits, especially as it relates to something they need to make them act for the whole day. Therefore, the popularization of gadagi itself, the rapid flow of information about it via the chief driving group (i.e. commercial motorcyclists) who are mobile, influence consumption. Notably, the findings show that the availability of consumables like gadagi influences consumption. If gadagi were scarce, some of the consumers can forget about it. As such, limited availability and access could mean limited consumption, thereby implying a difference between availability and consumption. This goes in line with the views on availability and proneness as facilitating factors emphasized by Smart (1980). Bukarti (2009), in the same vein, also has amplified easy accessibility while Bryant and Peck (2007) assert that use [of consumables] usually follow availability.

Another subtheme places attention on activities like party politics where politicians exploit the youths, community or cultural approval (many locations sell openly), lack of attention on the part of government and the absence of clearly formalized regulatory provisions. The political factors tied to gadagi consumption are inclined to the situation that with the current political dispensation, politicians usually lure youths into political activities, thereby encouraging them into drugs-taking, so that they will act the way they want them to act. In understanding the predisposition of gadagi further, results on the direct, indirect and total effects from the path analysis show that peer group influence, place of occupation and income have greater positive total effects on gadagi consumption. However, education and living with parents have negative effects on gadagi consumption, suggesting less consumption.

9. Conclusions

The study concludes that there is widespread use of gadagi in Kano involving, mainly, single males; though females and the married take it too; consumers’ occupations linked to the demand for it; people in non-labor-intensive occupations take it too; consumers take other things in addition to gadagi; the things added to gadagi and the stimulating properties in it appear to have immense contributions that push users into unwanted behaviors. Gadagi is not something new and its emergence and popularization are connected to its derivable benefits, availability and easy access, the rapid flow of information about gadagi, its attractive force to consumers who are mostly youths largely being involved in labor-intensive occupations or physically-challenging jobs. Similar to the stepping stone hypothesis, the properties present in gadagi where found to be capable of igniting pleasure-seeking behavior capable of leading to the risk of progressing into other substances; and that it is difficult to distance gadagi from the attendant problems, disrespectful behaviors among users and other masked or suppressed risks.


Based on the findings of the research, the following recommendations were offered:

Table 3. Priority Recommendations.

High use with new locations and users Take inventory & profiles of locations - Kano State Government Periodic estimated magnitude of use for planning
High number of youths frequent locations Close monitoring - Kano State Government Protection of youths & locations from bad elements & unwanted behaviors
Youths (15-30) most active category  in use More employment & skills acquisition initiatives, – Fed., State Governments, NGOs Limited use & clustering, reduced  levels of vulnerability
Phytochemical screening revealed stimulating properties Further investigations into the gadagi preparations – Kano State Government Ascertained safety for human consumption
Unhygienic conditions of some locations & utensils in use Health visitations for inspection & advocacy - Kano State Government Enforced adoption of basic sanitary habits across locations


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