The journey of a former criminal in Kenya and his fight against illegal firearms

As Kenya grapples with a surge in violent crimes, one former criminal, who goes by the name Samuel, embarks on a mission to convince individuals to surrender their illegal firearms, one gun at a time. Amid rising concerns surrounding the increase in violent robberies, illegal firearms have made their way into the country through porous borders, resulting in Kenya having one of the highest rates of civilian possession of weapons in East Africa. The Institute of Security Studies notes that there are approximately 750,000 firearms in civilian hands in Kenya, surpassing the combined number of weapons held by the army and police.

Samuel, haunted by his past actions which included taking a man’s life while under the influence of drugs, expresses his deep regret and fear for the safety of his family. In a bid to turn his life around and ensure the well-being of his loved ones, Samuel reaches out to King Kafu, a reformed ex-convict who now aids individuals in leaving the path of crime behind. Kafu, who was once involved in armed robberies and served time in prison, now acts as an intermediary between gun owners seeking to surrender their firearms and the police.

Having undergone a transformation in prison and witnessing the tragic fates of friends involved in criminal activities, Kafu now advocates against gun violence through his role as a radio presenter on Ghetto Radio, a station popular among Nairobi’s youth in impoverished neighborhoods. With the government’s amnesty programs aimed at reducing gun crimes by offering immunity to those surrendering their weapons, Kafu and others hope to convince more individuals to relinquish their illegal firearms.

Despite the government’s efforts, the ease of acquiring guns in Kenya poses a significant challenge, with criminals citing a price of 40,000 Kenyan shillings for a firearm. Moreover, the fear of retaliation and extra-judicial killings by the police deters many from coming forward to surrender their guns. Reports from Kenyan charity Missing Voices reveal a concerning number of deaths at the hands of law enforcement, predominantly affecting poor young men.

Kafu’s endeavors to assure gun owners of their safety and advocate for their support from the government reflect a small step towards addressing Kenya’s gun violence crisis. By building trust with former criminals and offering assurances of protection, Kafu aims to facilitate more surrenders of illegal firearms and discourage retaliation against those seeking to make amends. While the return of weapons alone may not eradicate gun-related crimes, Kafu’s dedication to the cause signifies a promising beginning in the fight against illegal firearms in Kenya.