In Summary
  • The two thugs did not steal any material items from us, not even our phones or jewellery, which were right there for the taking.
  • Youth violence greatly increases insecurity, and creates a big burden and strain to the public health, education and criminal justice and social welfare systems of society.
  • Poor, abusive, depressed or alcoholic or drug-dependent parents have traditionally been identified as factors related to youth violence at the family level, in addition to association with delinquents and gangs at wider interaction levels.

A number of years back, I was involved in a carjacking in Industrial Area. A friend and I went to pick up furniture from a godown and the Canter carrying it was delayed in traffic.

So we stopped at a petrol station at the junction of Bunyala Road and Uhuru Highway to give it time to catch up with us.

Two youngsters, barely out of their teens, ran from Uhuru Highway towards us, one of them shooting in the air. We got out of the car, since, clearly, they needed one more than we did, but they ordered us back in at gunpoint.

It was three o’clock in the afternoon! I can write ten pages of the three to five-minute drive from that point to a kijiji behind Mater Hospital it was the longest five minutes of my life.

This is Africa, where we imagine there are more pressing matters than ‘I’, so I have not heard of any support groups for victims or those afflicted or affected by youth violence. But I can assure you, back then, I needed therapy to get over that experience.

PUBLIC EXECUTIONS

We were not physically harmed in any way just emotionally traumatised and psychologically scarred. The two thugs did not steal any material items from us, not even our phones or jewellery, which were right there for the taking.

Never mind they made it very clear that they were doing us a great favour by not robbing us. In their opinion, the getaway ‘service’ we were providing was more valuable than our ‘valuables’.

Those two young men stole something from me that day any sympathy I might ever have had or developed for perpetrators of violence, even if they are youth.

This is just one manifestation of youth and youth-related violence in Kenya. There are many others, including public executions of youth by alleged law enforcers, school bullying and arson, and suicide apparently related to computer games. There are also electioneering-related incidents of youth violence.

Kenyan society has an interesting way of dealing with youth-related violence. When youth are shot in Eastleigh, extrajudicial killings are to blame, when schools produce more bullies than certificates, the school administration and prefects are to blame, while in electioneering, the politicians are to blame.

SOCIAL DISRUPTIONS

Kenya is not tackling youth violence as the social, global public health challenge it really is. Each incident is taken in isolation, and most times, the factors surrounding the youth are identified as causes.

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