Pakasa forum failed to address drug abuse jeopardising youth
When Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta addressed the 4th Pakasa Forum at Kampala Parents School in Naguru, Kampala yesterday, he highlighted the importance of young people across East Africa. However, he did not address the drug smuggling and abuse putting the region’s future in jeopardy as narcotics remain prevalent among East African’s youth.In the widely televised forum dubbed Pakasa and also streamed online by MTN Uganda, the Kenyan leader said “The kind of East African we are looking to see is an East African who sees themselves as East African. America was built by Americans, Germany was built by Germans, and East Africa will be developed by East Africans.” According to data from 2012, research shows that 20 percent of East Africans youths are abusing drugs from tender age of 12 to 30 years consuming drugs with majority being school going or university students. In 2012, 5 out of every 50 students in East Africa were said to have abused drugs. Students, the report noted, resorted to using drugs for different reasons, including peer pressure and family or school problems. The study found the most common drugs consumed by students were ecstasy, bhang, heroin and cocaine.
Having extensively traveled across the East African region, the problem of drugs is deep and is very concerning because young people are responsible for the region’s future development, yet few leaders are taking bold steps in tackling the crime.There is no doubt in my mind that the misbehaving of East Africa’s young generation could endanger region’s life in the future, because the youth, as the generation hoped to continue the legacy of the region, are being increasingly vulnerable due to addictive substances that destroy their senses. Few have realised that the strong and smart young generation Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi on whom high hopes have been imposed will be nothing but memories. Access to illegal drugs is becoming increasingly easy in the region according United States government agency report on drug trafficking released last year contributing to their widespread use.For example, the State department report said drug sellers in East African coast have started infusing addictive substances into cigarettes, which are sold to students as young as those in primary(elementary) school, who try it out of curiosity.
In a very shocking incident last week, a high school principal in one of the EAC countries was caught on camera allegedly hiding drugs in his car at the school compound but follow up investigations revealed it was a widespread problem. Another report released earlier this year showed that 46% of 300 students in a secondary school aged 14-19 old tested positive for consuming methamphetamine. This demonstrated that efforts to protect children against the dangers of illegal drugs are far from effective and apart from employment, its time leading public figures start addressing the problem that threaten to erode the future of Africa’s most promising regional integration and they should be concerned, aware and supportive in the fight against drugs. In all East African countries, there are strict policing preferred as the method of dealing with the problem. Nightclubs in cities like Kigali, Mbarara, Kampala, Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, Bujumbura, Moshi, Mombasa, Arusha and elsewhere in the region are routinely raided to detect drugs on patrons, but in some instances corrupt law enforcers allegedly tip off venue operators ahead of raids.In the next Pakasa forum, address the drugs menace.