Musician Jackie Chandiru reveals how she used to spend 10m a month on drugs
Written by Lindah Nduwumwami on January 17, 2019
Singer Jackie Chandiru is on the road to recovery from drugs. She has released a new single Mi Ora Ku, appeared on several TV and radio stations for interviews, and even performed at a couple of events including King Saha’s Biribiri concert last weekend. But while she was away from the public eye for close to three years, Chandiru was in rehabilitation to beat a drug addiction that almost took her life. The former Blu*3 singer revealed how she got hooked to drugs and her recovery journey in an interview with Karitas Karisimbi on NBS’ Chatroom. In a tell-all interview, Chandiru said her ex-husband used to give her about Shs 10m a month which she mostly blew on drugs.
The singer revealed that unlike what the public thought that she was using marijuana or cocaine, she was addicted to pethidine, a prescription drug.
How she got hooked
Chandiru revealed that she never set out to get addicted, but an unfortunate event led her down that road. “Thugs attacked me at home and beat me up. I got injured and the pain was unbearable so I went to see a doctor and he gave me a drug. Within 30 seconds, the 30 seconds the pain was gone,” she said. The singer said that the lower part of her back was injured and being a performer, whose work involved movement, the pain “would come back.” “Whenever the pain would get unbearable, I would take the drug.” Apart from instant pain relief, the drug would also put her in a “zone.” “It creates a euphoric feeling. You are in a peaceful zone. I used to have insomnia because of the many bad things I went through, but with this drug, I would just go to sleep,” she said. However, because of its side-effects and likelihood to get someone addicted, pethidine is one of the drugs you cannot easily get from a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. Chandiru’s doctor knowing this, refused to give her more prescriptions. “I would go to the pharmacy and at first they would chase me. But they like money so they would call me back and ask how much I have.” The diva who voice and energy gave the Blu*3 an edge. Chandiru reveals that she was on the drug for about five years and by the time she was done with it, it had completely destroyed her skin. Her hands are still scarred even today. “I started with two shots, then five, then 10 then 20 a day. I would inject myself anywhere. I have a sensitive skin by nature and I ruined it. Whenever I would go for skin treatment, I always claimed I had been sick and the skin got spoilt because of a canular in treatment,” she said. “In the fifth year I could no longer help myself. I always wanted to be in that zone. You wake up in the morning you don’t even want food you only want the drug,” she revealed. It was in the fifth year that the drug took its toll on her and she started getting convulsions.
“One time I was crossing the road and I became stiff and fell. My sister Cynthia just ran away. She didn’t want to see her sister dead. My driver picked me and a regained consciousness after about three minutes. I didn’t remember anything that had happened. I just saw people look at me with this worried look but I didn’t care,” she narrates.
“Another time, I was upstairs in the bathroom and I fell. The way I hit myself on the toilet, I shouldn’t have been alive,” she recalls. Her mother got concerned and started checking her clothes and belongings to ensure she didn’t have the drug on her. She also reached out to her husband and even sent him a photo of the injections Jackie was using when he didn’t believe her. “I used to use the drugs discretely so he couldn’t believe her because he had no reason to suspect me,” she said. Meanwhile, her husband who was a frequent traveller used to give her up to Shs10m a month in upkeep money and she even had his credit card. He wanted her to be comfortable because he didn’t like it that she was a performer who used to work late nights. But it is this money that she used to finance her drug habit.
“I’m thankful I didn’t get to a point where I had to sell my body,” she said.
Chandiru at Radio City for an interview. However, her husband was soon to find out. “One time in the morning he went to the shower and I picked a needle and gave myself a fix. I hid it under the bed but I don’t know how he saw it. He picked it and said ‘your mother sent me a picture,” Chandiru revealed. Even then, she didn’t admit telling him. She instead lied that she had used it sometime back and it had fallen from her suitcase. Because it looked freshly used, the husband didn’t believe her. After some time, she couldn’t help herself but get a fix. “Whenever I would go the bathroom and I take 30 minutes you knew something was happening,” she admitted. Having been admitted into rehab when she was found almost lifeless in her house in 2016, Chandiru is back and is starting from where she left off. She says she has now kicked the habit and is back to her first love — doing music.