From an extreme humidity of 66% to 30% humidity in Nairobi. It was 8pm and extremely cold when the youth got to Nairobi but they woke up to a beautiful morning at the Capital city and the youth’s first stop was Muthangari Police station. Here they would understand community policing and how the police work hand in hand with the community. The OCS, Michael Kahare welcomed the youth to the station he was among other police officers that joined the youth; IP (Celestine Musembi, Wakio), PC (Nelly, Judy, Emmaculate and Joan) and Col. Cyprian.
The youth had candid conversations with the police. ‘Community policing is done once a month.” – Michael Kahare, OCS Muthangari. The OCS also added that community policing is done at the sub-county levels and greatly involves the chiefs because they are closer to the people. He emphasized that the youth matter because they are the future leaders and command most of the activities in the community. The OCS noted that unemployment contributes greatly to increase of illegal activities among the youth, and that the police work with the different groups in the community to change that; these group include people like; ‘boda boda’ guys. The local elders, ‘nyumba kumi’ initiative are used to bridge the gaps between the police and the community. Muthangari Police station has a gender desk at the station which works closely with different organizations to ensure that the community understands the importance of reporting gender issues. The police also work on creating relationships with the community, this is done through WhatsApp groups and community activities which the police participate.
“Welcoming the other”, is a program that encourages dialogues among interfaith groups where one faith welcomes the other to dialogue about the others faith. The youths were welcomed at Jeffreys Islamic Centre where they were hosted by the SHIA community, here they held interfaith dialogues. Sheikh Ali an Imam at the community led the discussions, as he took questions from the youth who sought to understand more about the SHIA faith.
“Dialogue is the only thing you can do to understand one another. We believe in a dialogue. There is more than unites us (people of different faiths) than divides us.” He went on to add, “We don’t initiate dialogue with each other therefore we miss what is good on the other,” Sheikh Ali, Imam of SAAJ Community.
This was followed by a trip to Uhuru Park where the youths formed groups and discussed about their experiences.
Day two of the Nairobi exchange the youth were hosted at the Netherlands embassy. The Deputy Ambassador welcomed the youths to the Embassy. This was followed by inclusive conversations on prevention and countering violent extremism. Some of the thought provoking statements that were posed to the audience were:
“Social/economic exclusion is a bigger driver towards violent extremism than Islamic ideology.”
“A prerequisite of civil society organizations to work in the field of preventing and countering violent extremism is government approval of their activities.”
“A generous amnesty for all members of Al-shabaab is the only way to terminate this terrorist organization.”
This led to an hour session where the audience took up seats at the front giving their views and opinions about these statements.
By Mary N. Ndulili