© 2019 Building Bridges Initiative 

     bbi@citizensupport.go.ke

Show Me your Friend, and I'll Tell you Who you Are

Updated: Mar 24





Being a youth is a once in a lifetime experience. It is sweet but can be bitter at the same time. Amidst all this, it is beautiful to remain that virtuous young person.


As a young boy from Kajiado, Saibulu had great ambitions which he strived to achieve each day. He had great hopes that one day he will finish his secondary school and join the Kenya army, a career that he loved passionately. Little did it ever cross Saibulu’s thoughts that things might turn out to be different. After school, Saibulu tried to go for several army recruitments that didn’t bear fruit. He tried out other security-related recruitments, the police, GSU name them all, but he ended up feeling frustrated and blamed the system for not being fair to the youth.


His parents advised him to take a diploma in IT since his high school grade could favor this but still after the course, he and some of his classmates were unable to secure jobs in the IT industry. They decided to do any job so they could avoid the shame of borrowing money each time from their parents who struggled to educate them.


Saibulu frequently met with his former classmates, Jonte, Kama, Lema and Moha and they could discuss how to try out different things that would make them enjoy a bright future. The five started out on a ‘mjengo’ hustle where despite a daily small pay, they saw it better than having to depend on others each time. They made new friends and kept discussing about their future and all sorts of ideas of making life better. One day, Mutembei their colleague at the construction site called them aside after job and as they walked home, he discussed with them a new hustle idea he had heard about from a friend and in which they could earn an attractive pay. This caught their attention and they were willing to attend a mosque in Lamu where they were to meet Abdalla, Mutembei’s friend who had the job idea.


Three days-time they discussed their plans to quit the job with the construction site manager and they boarded a bus to Lamu where they believed their future lied. In Lamu, Abdalla the man who was to link them to the job advised them not to fail to attend daily meetings in a mosque for a three-week session to acquire some basic skills needed for the job. At the mosque, they learned basic Arabic and religious teachings which they later came to know it to be the jihadi ideology in which they were supposed to adhere to for them to be successful in the new job. They were also able to recite several verses of the holy book, learned how to use weapons like grenades and guns which they were told was necessary for their security, after which they were ferried to Somalia where they were introduced to the job.


Upon reaching Somalia, their phones were taken, and they were made to work internally. At first, they were told they have a special task for them that pays thrice the amount promised but will have to undergo an extra three-month training. In that period, they were introduced to ideas that made them hate other religions, spying and how to communicate among themselves and it was clear that they were working towards achieving a specific mission. At the camp, they could meet women and they could be allowed to sleep with various women which made them feel like heroes and it was obvious they were slowly losing their sense of humanity.


After three months Saibulu and his colleagues had already ceased being mummy’s boys. They were fully radicalized to the barbaric jihadism and were set for a mission that was meant to prove their faithfulness to Al Shabaab membership, after which they were promised to inherit heaven where they would each receive 72 virgins as a reward for sacrifice and serving faithfully.


Prior to the mission, they were made to take oaths of being committed to the mission to the bitter end. After the oaths, they woke up early the next morning ready to start on their mission to ruthlessly destroy innocent lives of non-believers (non-jihadists). While On their way to Nairobi Kenya, where they were supposed to launch an attack in a five-star hotel, they unexpectedly encountered a massive police operation at Mandera town and vehicles were being stopped for a thorough search. There was no doubt, their plans were already thwarted, and since they were not prepared because their war weapons were far placed in their Probox boot, they could not wait but decided to run as the operations continued. In the commotion, two of them Lema and Jonte were gunned down while Saibulu, Kama, and Moha were arrested and are now serving a three-year jail term while being counseled against radicalization and violent extremism.


It is sad how the youth are being easily lured into evil acts because of life frustrations, the major one being the increasing rate of unemployment in the country.

The world’s biggest power is the youth, and nations rely on them for prosperity. Young people contribute their ideas and energy by venturing into business, leading organizations, volunteering in various national projects and addressing problems affecting the nation.


The majority of Kenya’s population comprises of the youth but it’s worrying how unemployment has rendered them hopeless.

Unemployment remains one of the greatest challenges that our country faces, denying young citizens opportunities to earn decent incomes.


Failure to address this challenge has resulted in many young people succumbing to depression which has led to some committing suicide, joining criminal gangs and even yielding to drug abuse, radicalizing content and recruitment into terrorist insurgency groups.


Is their hope for the youth?


Youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow but also the partners of today. Young people are the agents of change and pillars of the economy.

After going through the recently proposed Building Bridges Initiative report, I came across pillars titled inclusivity and shared prosperity and was happy seeing youth issues included as part of achieving an all-inclusive prosperity. I hope to see youth talent and ideas being nurtured and opportunities for the youth to show their initiative, innovation, and entrepreneurship being created.


The BBI seeks to empower the youth through creating opportunities to self -employment and acquiring technical education as well as make efforts to coordinate, incentivize and drive the growth of the creative industries and sports. With the growing number of youths who venture into business and entrepreneurship, the BBI plans to minimize taxation of new and small businesses by giving the youth a tax holiday of at least 7 years as a support to the youth entrepreneurship and job creation.


Youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow but also the partners of today. Young people are the agents of change and pillars of the economy. Youth are energetic and they have bubbling enthusiasm which has to be regulated and utilized the right way. This will ensure rapid economic growth. Youth is the period in which revolutionary thoughts spring in mind and the thoughts shape the world. Bill gates, the founder of Microsoft is a living example; He had a revolutionary thought and he exercised his thought and that has tremendously changed the world. The youth, therefore, ought to be given the opportunity to utilize their abilities and talents to full potential and transform the world.

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