Seated on a bench in a hall at the Mikindani social hall, two middle aged people are engrossed in a tete-a-tete. The conversation is pegged on the changing times and youth trends in Mombasa. The two have just come from a cafe across the road for a lunch meal. A curious onlooker can easily tell that the two have known each other for some time now, or may be friends.
Among them is Abdulhakim Abdalla, a model and a member of the Pwani Youth Network in Mombasa and he ardently is defending changing trends. His counterpart is the Administration Police commandant for AP Post that is next to the Deputy County Commissioners office in Mikindani ward, Jomvu.
Abdulhakim is a beneficiary of trainings and activities conducted by KECOSCE through the BRICS program. These activities aimed at improving the relationships between youth and government law enforcement agencies.
“Before participating in these activities, I hated the police. I had a bad experience with them. I remember the day I was arrested without cause and taken to a police cell, I was mishandled, beaten up, and humiliated. Furthermore my family had to part with KES 3000 (which they badly needed at the time) for my release from custody,” he says.
He adds that whenever he heard propaganda against government, he always sympathized with the radicals and criminals; it was the only channel he could get to release out his frustration with the police.
“My turning point came after the trainings, forums and the youth patriotism challenge we took here at Mikindani. It felt nice interacting with the officers that way. They were quite friendly; I remember for the first time I interacted with the inspector, I had to ask him questions related to that arrest,” he says adding that after discussing with him, he finally got to see things differently.
“My heart grew lighter; we have also grown so confident that our youth network got offices at the social hall, just near the administration police camp. Now we interact more frequently with the police. I can say we are friends, once in a while we even met at the cafeteria and share meals over conversations. We visit their offices and they come to ours.”
He notes that he can now sufficiently contribute to the security of my neighborhood. “The recognition as a youth leader by police has boosted my confidence and morale to share information with them.”
He urged KECOSCE to continue working with youth groups and networks since these activities have the potential to change youth, especially those in Maskani where propaganda against government is very high.