Mombasa youth through David’s eyes Part I

“Look at him. You just take a long hard look at him. IMG_20141022_101300 Please tell me if these people are lazy. It is 5.20 a.m. They were here before you even came. What you’re seeing him doing is collecting feed to catch fish. The tide is also about to come so he is preparing for it in advance. I know these boys; it is as if they are my sons. Some of them are my neighbours, some of them I never see again but they still are like my sons. I have watched them from different places in Mombasa for over 28 years. Yes, I have worked in Mombasa for over 28 years. Do you believe me? (chuckles) I have done all manner of jobs but I’m most proud as a security guard. I have worn this uniform for a longer period than you’ve probably existed in this world. You look very young but I will not ask you your age.  I hear it is bad manners to do so. (chuckles) I started here in the early 80’s. Things were great. Tourism was booming. Mombasa was the it place in the whole East African coast, actually in Africa. It was the same in the 90’s but I cannot say it’s the same today. (silence) I am earning the least I have ever earned in my life, but I am grateful. I still have a job. I can’t say it’s the same for some of my friends, actually most of them. They are so bitter with life. Do you blame them? (silence) So these boys, you’d like to know more about them? Well, these boys right now are one the most hardworking individuals I know. Everyone says that Mombasa youth are lazy. Do people in the urban cities even wake at these ungodly hours to go to work? Let alone to do a traditional economic activity such as fishing? Why label what you do not know? You end up belittling those who still have a bit of fire in them. You honestly do. Despite all hardship and short comings, they are still here before dawn to fend for themselves. Make no mistake though, they still do engage in illegal activities. You do know that drugs are rampant here. It’s a shame. They have destroyed our youth. Majority are high at least at some point in the day. Call it escapism and opportunists making a killing. These children probably dropped out of school in class 4-8 or at the most in their second year in high school. People say they are lazy because now there is free primary education but that is not the case. The funds available are Kshs 3000 ( USD 34) and one needs Kshs 7000 (USD 78). Yes one many say that they can work to offset the balance but there are other things that take priority, food and shelter. The basic needs. Those are more of a priority. School comes as an afterthought yet it is the one thing that could remove them from abject poverty. But there is another problem. There are those who have gone to school but have still not gotten a shot at their silver lining. There are no jobs. Am sure you can now see why I say that these boys out here fishing are hardworking. They know that people cannot do without food and even despite them earning very little, they are still here. They then take the fish to the factory in Old Town then to marikiti. They live a day at a time. It’s worse today though, they cannot bank on the tourism industry to make some extra money. There are no tourists. We need each other to face this menace, we need our security back. Can we have a national dialogue about this?”

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