FIGHTING INSECURITY

Culture, tradition counter extremism in Kwale

Kombani, Ng’ombeni, Diani and parts of Lunga Lunga are hubs for radicalised youth and criminal gangs that terrorise residents

In Summary

• To attract youth, they have digitised the African traditions, which will be passed to the younger generation digitally.

• They are also using sports, art, traditional dances, music, storytelling the peace campaigns.

County executive for culture and social services Ramadhan Bungale at youth event in Matuga subcounty in 2020.
CULTURE VS EXTREMISM: County executive for culture and social services Ramadhan Bungale at youth event in Matuga subcounty in 2020.
Image: SHABAN OMAR

Radicalised youth, extremists and criminal gangs along the Coast are estranged, alienated and adrift from their roots.

Putting them back in touch with their culture is considered one way to fight extremism, promote peace and make young men feel wanted again.

Kwale culture social services executive Ramadhan Bungale said the county is harnessing culture and tradition to attract youth and instil values and unity.

He said that will promote love and belonging.

“Cultural practices have a lot of influence in our community, which is why we use them to bring back peace and tranquility. For years, we have been co-existing because of the culture that binds us together,” he said.

The county is using sports, art, traditional dances, music, storytelling  and cooking competitions to bring youth together during peace campaigns.

To attract youth, they have digitised the African traditions to preserve them and pass them on. About 200 young men have been reached.

Whether culture can successfully challenge and extinguished extremism and crime has not been established. Paying jobs would help.

The county is helping young people access low-interest loans to start their own businesses.

“We have incorporated various talents and we give them sponsorship so they can be busy and also financially stable. When they are busy, they stay away from temptations,” Bungale said.

The Kwale county government has partnered with the Youth and Women for  Peace and Sustainable Development to promote Coast culture and fight radicalisation.

The Coast has been a national security concern over radicalisation of youth and participation in criminal gangs.

Kombani, Ng’ombeni, Diani and some parts of Lunga Lunga subcounty are hubs for radicalised youth and criminal gangs that terrorise residents.

Most gangs consist of youth aged between 12 and 18 years, police say.

Kwale borders Mombasa, which has also been grappling with juvenile gangs like the Wakali Kwanza, Wajukuu wa Bibi and Watalia among others.

Sometimes the youth sneak into Kwale, the police in pursuit.

Security officials, village elders and parents are involved in the programme.

Culture and traditional practices helped end conflicts and promote peace in ancient times, Bungale said.

“We have seen our elders using alternative conflict resolution techniques. I believe that can apply in the present day; we use traditions to instil discipline."

Youth and Women for Peace and Sustainable Development officer Mary Mwachiti said the erosion of culture and traditions has contributed increasing indiscipline.

Culture must be preserved for future generations, she said.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission and Samba Sports Youth Agenda are among organisations using sports to promote peace at the Coast.

(Edited by V. Graham)

 

County commissioner Joseph Kanyiri, Kwale police commander Amrose Oloo, Youth and Women for Peace and Sustainable Development officer Mary Mwachiti among others at the Kwale Cultural Center in Matuga in April.
CULTURE FOR PEACE: County commissioner Joseph Kanyiri, Kwale police commander Amrose Oloo, Youth and Women for Peace and Sustainable Development officer Mary Mwachiti among others at the Kwale Cultural Center in Matuga in April.
Image: SHABAN OMAR