By Tapeng Michael Ohure
Shisha smoking is taking a craze in South Sudan with women championing the consumption of the drug.
While shisha is frowned upon in neighbouring countries including Uganda and Sudan, in South Sudan, it is used for refreshment or socialization.
In bars and tea places, along roadsides and in busy centers in the capital Juba, Hookah Shisha are usually slotted near seats for smokers.
With 200 South Sudanese Pounds ($0.5) one can take as much shisha as possible-and women simply love it.
Sunday John, a breastfeeding mother is an addict. And like her, so many South Sudanese just love smoking the drug.
“I am smoking Shisha to pass my time,” John who lives in Gumbo on the outskirt of Juba told Juba Echo.
“If I wake up in the morning I have to smoke, and if it reaches mid-day I have to also smoke and when it reaches night I also have to smoke, then I go to bed,” she said.
Medics however warned Shisha smoking is very dangerous for health and John is aware.
“I have believed that if you smoke shisha when you are pregnant it affects the child,” she said.
“Now I have started realizing the effects of Shisha on my child because I am breastfeeding while smoking Shisha and now my child frequently experiences chronic cough.”
According to Dr Laku Emmanuel of Al-Sabah Children’s Hospital, many women who visit the facility are Shisha addicts.
But like John, Mercy Mustapha who also lives in Juba cannot do without Shisha.
Mercy started smoking the drug eleven years ago at the age of 12.
“I smoke Shisha to quench over satisfaction because it is like coca cola to help speed digestion,” she told Juba Echo.
“In a day I spend 600 South Sudanese pounds in smoking Shisha in the morning I smoke, midday, I smoke and evening I also smoke then I go to bed but now I want to leave Shisha I have heard a lot of people saying Shisha is not good for one’s health.”
Dr. Laku warned Shisha smoking isn’t healthy, especially for breastfeeding mothers because it causes respiratory distress to a child whose mother smokes.
Medical conditions including asthma and recurring cough are also attributed to Shisha, he said.
‘’We always ask the social history of the parents of a sick child when they are brought to us. Most mothers do admit that they do smoke shisha while sometimes their husbands don’t smoke,’’ Dr. Laku said.
But despite the ill health it may cost, John simply can’t do without it.
“It is difficult for me to miss smoking shisha in a day because I will just not feel comfortable,” she said.