Talent in Chains
We arrive at Kamiti GK Prison where we are welcomed by friendly guards at the gate. It’s hard to imagine this place is home to hardcore criminals. The compound is so serene with cool breeze coming from the trees around, until we get to see the high walls of the prison with the words “GK Prison Kamiti” embedded at the top.
In here there are 2,114 prisoners serving various sentences with even some on remand awaiting sentencing. It is home to men of different walks of life and ages, among them being former Kenya Premier League players.
Tedium Rodgers Mzungu is no ordinary prisoner at Kamiti. He stands out from the rest from his attire, donned in a green training kit. He is one of the two coaches of the Inmates Premier League that we had an interview with. At the age of 24, Tedium was an active football player playing for KPL outfit Mathare United. Teddy would have made a good role model for upcoming footballers were it not for being involved in crime resulting from peer pressure. On the day Tedium was arrested, he was just 5 days away to fly out of the country to head to the Netherlands. Many youths in Kenya dream of venturing abroad, and if you get an opportunity to do so courtesy of your talent, you were almost guaranteed of better fortunes financially. At the time of his arrest, Teddy was a father to a 3 years 9months son. Fast forward, the son is currently aged 25 years old and has a son of his own, thus making Teddy, as he is popularly known, a grandfather.
Coming to terms with being a prisoner and its many challenges was a hard pill to swallow. Getting back into beautiful game of football helped ease his stress. Over the last 19 years that he has been in this facility, Teddy has lost his wife, his father and his two sisters. The one wish that he bears is to spend time with his remaining family members, top of the list being his son and grandson, once he is a free man. Teddy was condemned, which was later changed to life sentence in prison. He is currently appealing his case to be set free.
Teddy urges young people to earn an honest living as engaging his crime will only lead to one wasting their youth and talents. A criminal ends up in prison, if not dead after being lynched by the angry public or being shot by cops.
Another prison we haad a sharing with is Shwib. Shwib Mohammed Shwib, is a footballer, more precisely a former Thika United player. Kamiti has been his home for the last 16 years. He got here while he was just 20years old, after being found guilty of robbery with violence.
He looks anxious and from a far you can see a frail smile on him. He is set to be released anytime from today after a successful appeal and reconciliation process, after which he will serve a three year out of prison sentence on probation.
He has used his time effectively while in prison and learned a couple of skills. He has acquired knowledge on various courses such as Effects of Drug abuse and Crime, Mindful leadership, the Muslim religion and a course on football. For the football course he took part in, he was awarded with a certificate that was presented to him with the current Football Kenya Federation President, Mr. Nick Mwenda. With these skills at hand he hopes he can be of impact to the youth back at his home in Thika as well as become a football coach.
While here, Shwib has also discovered that he has the ability to crack people’s ribs through comedy, thus all was not gloomy while serving his sentence. His family has been instrumental in offering him the much-needed support while he has been in prison. He hopes he can be able to catch up on his life aspirations such as get married and have children.
Shwib believes that it is important for the youth out here to get to understand that there is no award ceremony for those who commit crimes. He encouraged the youth to make the right decisions before it’s too late.