Kenya has of late fallen victim to a crime wave that has surged in most of the major towns. In addition to the crime, there is unrest at the Coast especially amongst muslim youth who have recently fought running battles with police. The primary reason for the crime and unrest is the fact that Kenya now has millions of idle youth. Every year, Kenya churns out approximately 150,000 school leavers. Most of these end up with nothing to do and spend entire days and nights idling in the estates. And as the saying goes, “An idle mind is the devils workshop“. Joblessness and the idleness that comes with it pushes many youth towards crime. Idleness also leads to drug use which in turn causes youth to turn to come because it is the only way they can support their addictions.
The government must come up with several strategies to combat this idleness. Clearly putting these youth to work is the best way. But not all will find jobs considering that the youth unemployment rate is 60% . Therefore other strategies must be pursued. One of the best ways to keep the youth busy and engaged in positive activities is via sports.
Build football fields in the estates
During the colonial days and even up the the 1970s, it was a standard policy by the city council to build football fields within estates. As a result, most of the football fields you see in Nairobi today were built by the colonial governments in the 1940s and 1950s, This includes such legendary grounds like Woodley grounds and Jericho sports ground. Many of the greatest football stars Kenya has produced honed their skills at these grounds.
Today however, no new fields are built even as neighbourhoods sprout all over Kenyan cities. Worse still, some of these grounds have been grabbed by well connected individuals. As a result many youth living in neighbourhoods including the sprawling Kibera typically have no fields to play on.
Playing fields such as this one face the constant menace of land grabbers.
The national government and the county governments must reverse this trend by creating space for football fields, basketball fields and even volleyball fields. Not only will building more fields, keep the youth busy and away from crime, it could help create the next generation of football and basketball stars.
Revive tournaments like Sakata Ball
One of the most unfortunate events that has happened in the Kenyan football scene recently is the cancellation of the Safaricom Sakata Ball tournament. This tournament not only gave youth (both boys and girls) opportunities to keep busy with positive and healthy lifestyle activities, it actually gave them a chance to earn real money. In a country where 60% of youth have no jobs, it was an important avenue for many youth to earn money. The tournament was cancelled because current FKF chairman Sam Nyamweya demanded that the sponsors give him and his federation 10% of the sponsorship money.
It is high time the sports mminister approached Safaricom with a view to reviving that tournament. It was also a good avenue for talented youth to showcase their skills for national league clubs.
Revive social halls
The legendary Muthurwa social hall was built by the colonial government in 1910. During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, it served as boxing hall where young pugilists learned their trade. During this period, Kenya was a global boxing power and Muthurwa social hall, popularly known as “Dallas boxing club”, produced some of the greatest boxers. These included commonwealth games champions like Stephen Muchoki, Mike “Stone” Irungu, as well as Olympic medalists like Ibrahim Bilali and Robert Wangila. Muthurwa social hall has since fallen on hard times. Boxing activities ceased in the 1990s and land the social hall has been the target of well connected land grabbers.
Other social halls have already been grabbed. Rebuilding such facilities could offer youth an outlet for their aggression. Why not give youth a chance to learn the fine art of boxing instead of letting them join gangs like the Gaza gang that has been terrorizing residents in Kayole.