'Wakali Kwanza' The Drug Addicts Turned Extremists


Juma Kasim, a reformed youth living at the Coast, believes there exists a strong link between drug addiction and violence. Just as many youths hold great dreams and ambitions to excel and impact the society positively, Juma once desired to become a teacher and mentor young people, but at some point in time life curiosities, peer pressures and the strong urge to belong and acquire a sense of identity led to him joining a group of youth in Kisauni where his journey to substance abuse started.


The group later named Wakali Kwanza and started engaging in all forms of criminal acts such as theft, rape, and terrorizing the Mombasa community; killing and injuring many, some of whom were relatives of the gang members. A hunt down of the gang members by the government in 2019 led to many of the Wakali Kwanza gang members killings while some surrendered to the authorities among them Juma Kassim and were later initiated into rehabilitation programs.


Radicalization is a process and not a one-time event, it requires urgent intervention to prevent its causes one of them being drugs and substance abuse that create room for violent acts.

The youth and teenagers are the most vulnerable group for radical influences as they are the most vibrant and dynamic social group prone to high-risk behaviors. Juma’s case is evidence that drug addiction is a major risk factor for young people to become involved in extreme activities. The two hold a common ground that triggers destructive character and serious consequences for the young generation.


Acts of terrorism regarded as a form of violent extremism are often carried out by drunk aggressors under the influence of psychoactive substances. Drugs have been reported to be part of extremist organizations that are often funded by financial resources obtained from drug trafficking.


Radicalization is a process and not a one-time event, it requires urgent intervention to prevent its causes one of them being drugs and substance abuse that create room for violent acts. It is therefore appropriate to establish specific drug prevention initiatives to be included in the education process. Drug abuse is one of the risk factors that trigger extremism that ought to be looked into seriously by employing a public health approach to counter extremism through teaching the young generation about the dangers of drug abuse.

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