By; Maxwell Mgandi
At the age of 19, the youngest youth activist at the Coast of Kenya is not relenting in his daily efforts of leading youth in the right direction.
He is always on the move meeting youth groups in Mombasa and Kilifi Counties, and planning to spread his hands to Kwale County where the issue of many youths trapped in extremism is evident.
Usama Ali Hassan, a Mombasa based youth activist has vowed to lead youth in the right direction away from extremism and terrorism.
Our interview was always interrupted by frequent calls on his mobile phone from youth group leaders in Majengo, Old town and Kisauni always asking him to visit and guide them on how they can disentangle their peers from extremism and terrorism issues that has seen youth losing their lives or mysteriously disappear only to join the terror group Al-Shabab in Somalia.
He revealed that the problem has caused him sleepless nights pushing his heart to reach youths whom he says only needed mentorship, guidance and counseling, all these angles culminated with source of livelihood.
“I am neither an expert nor a scholar in this field but one thing I can authoritatively say is that many Coastal youth are living in desperation,” he says.
Usama singles out unemployment, low levels of education, a sense of pain and revenge, and marginalization as some of the main pushing factors making youth extremists.
“Some four years back we only heard these things in Somalia and other Middle East countries but the whole chronic security problem of extremism and terrorism is right here with us,” he regrettably noted.
He continues, “At times my parents would caution me to be very careful while pursuing my anti radicalization activism and especially when I meet juvenile gangs in Mombasa but I always lock myself in my room, pray, read the holy Q’uran and the next morning I gather synergy pushing me even further to reach more hopeless youth,” he added.
The young activist who is planning to register a community based organization ‘Pwani Community Outreach’ so that he can pull other stakeholders to the course of taming extremism among Coastal youths says the problem needed a multi-agency approach in curbing it.
He said that police, human rights activists, women rights defenders, religious leaders, community and political leaders and youth themselves must unit in a bid to contain the security but a social problem at the Coast.
Finance challenge has never shuttered his dream for the last two years he has been conducting his reach out activities in Mombasa and Kilifi and he depends on donations from his own parents to attain his main objectives of setting Coastal youth free from extremism and terrorism issues.
“At this juncture we should actually be discussing about preventing violent extremism and not countering the vice,” he adds.
Usama who is now working towards meeting National Counter Terrorism Centre representatives so that together they help youth out of the problem at the Coast said that his efforts will yield more fruits only if the NCTC and other government agencies will support his move of ensuring Coastal youth are extricated from extremism.
Some of his colleagues in the Network among them Peterson Kariuki and Hajj Ramadhan terms his efforts as amazing hand from God.
“It is truly unbelievable and we always back him up to ensure that he attains what is at the bottom of his heart,” said Hajj.