chapter  5
Khat and the creation of tradition in the Somali diaspora
WithAxel Klein
Pages 11

In the Somali community in the UK, few issues are as contentious as the status of khat. Many maintain that it lies at the root of the social and medical problems that trouble a significant proportion of the community. Interviews were conducted between December 2003 and June 2005 as part of an interdisciplinary research project entitled The khat nexus: transnational consumption in a global economy. The chapter shows how Somalis living in the UK are divided about the status of khat, some linking its use to problems such as unemployment, social exclusion, family breakdown and poor health. According to one community leader, ‘The women are going out to work, taking the children to school, doing the shopping, and the men are doing nothing but chewing. In the mean time, all of the parties involved in the debate on khat could benefit from a realistic reassessment of the history of khat use within Somali culture.