As the sun rises and gives life to a new day, it gives much more than life to Ann Rose. It gives an opportunity for her to pursue what has now become a responsibility to her, an opportunity to counter violent extremism among the youth in her resident area of Nyali Sub County in Mombasa. Ann kick starts this day by logging onto the social media platforms armed with sufficient knowledge to counter narratives on these sites that are being used to radicalize youth into joining terror groups, a job that she been doing for 5 months now.
Mombasa County among others in the coast of Kenya has for a long time been on the mouths of many as a hub for recruitment of youths into terror gangs, especially the renowned Al –Shabaab group. This has for a long time brought about a suspicious relation between law enforcers and some innocent youth leading to their arrests during security swoops in the name of being potential suspects. This among other factors has contributed to the increase in formation of youth gangs whose unifying goal has been to counter police harassment and perhaps offer solace to the youth that they are not alone in their suffering.
Ann Rose, 25, hails from Nyali sub County, one of the worst hit in the upsurge of youth gangs and security threats. After receiving training on social media monitoring and reporting through the BRICS project activities by Kenya Community Support Centre (KECOSCE), Candy Baby as she is known on social media is taking an innovative approach against the violent extremism. She is countering violent extremism groups through social media platforms.
With the changing dyanmics and recruitment tactics by terrorist groups through social media platforms there has been an upward trend of youths being radicalized to join violent extremist groups. Ms Ann seeks to challenge such propaganda by giving alternative narratives and factual information on Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter. This she does by engaging herself in studying and speaking to relevant sources of information before responding to posts with violent content on social media. Sometimes she starts discussions to stir up the minds of her followers on the social site and spur them into airing their views on the specific contentious issues.
“This is a venture that I decided to pick up based on my love for social media and desire to counter violent extremism. I have fun while doing it, we make good memes, and nice trending quotes and that is enough motivation for me! It is time the youth leaders stood up to and be counted as we secure our future. ” said Ann during at peace forum. Ms Rose is a member of various groups on social platforms and has now formed a constituency of peer social media peace ambassadors that she works with on her campaigns