NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Kiambu Governor William Kabogo has committed himself to fostering martial arts in the county as a way to combat the high levels of alcohol and drug use among youth in the area.
Martial arts, Kabogo said, would keep the unemployed youth productively engage and promote a sense of discipline among them.
“The martial arts are very close to my heart. In years past when I was a student at the Thika Technical Institute, I was the most dangerous brown belt karateka,” he testified.
He said his county government would therefore sponsor those who excelled in the sport to the National Youth Service (NYS) for further training before gainfully employing them.
“If they qualify to compete at the regional or international level we’re also willing to offer a helping hand,” he said.
Kabogo was speaking at the conclusion of a five-day martial arts competition held in Thika town that saw 21 youth, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds, secure NYS slots.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in November last year called on the county leaders to address the problem of alcohol abuse among the youth.
Alcohol abuse, the First Lady argued, put the youth at higher risk of contracting HIV and other communicable diseases.
“There is evidence that Kiambu County bears a heavy HIV/AIDS burden. As at the end of 2013 the county had 46,656 people living with HIV/AIDS, nine percent of whom were children.”
“Of concern, is that women bear the greatest burden of HIV and have a prevalence rate almost three times to that of men,” she said.
Abuse of illicit liquor by young men has also led to protests by mothers and wives in the county who say it has caused their husbands and sons to abdicate their roles in the family and engage in reckless behaviour that puts their and their children’s welfares at risk.