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CH’AT CONSUMPTION, UNEMPLOYMENT AND HOPE AMONG YOUNG MEN IN THE CITY OF MEKELLE. [Abstract ID: 0301-07]
This abstract is based on research carried out in Mekelle, capital city of the Federal Region of Tigray, and deals with the interconnections between the use of ch’at (a mild stimulant endemic plant in the Horn of Africa), unemployment and hope among urban youth. In recent years, the use and consumption of this stimulant has grown widely in Ethiopia and it has become a common aspect of the everyday life of young people, who mostly start chewing it when they join college and university. This phenomenon is related to one of the main properties commonly attributed to the plant, its capacity to enhance concentration and attention. As most student consumers say, it is useful to have better focus and attention when studying. Ch’at chewing is also a very common leisure activity, a sociable practice that enhances enjoyment because of the plant’s capacity to stimulate self-confidence, well-being and optimism. My research revealed that in most cases these young men are either unemployed or with no fixed employment. A common account was that they became addicted because chewing ch’at was the only way to pass time, to avoid stress and feel hope for the future. The aim of this paper is to explore the main reasons behind the high consumption of ch’at among young men and to shed light on the connections between ch’at use and socio-economic factors.