By Ibrahim A. Issack
Mandera County of Kenya is unique in many ways, it boarders Somalia to the East, Ethiopia to the west, Wajir to the south and Marsabit to the south west, a county with rich history. It is mainly inhabited by ethnic Somali who are mainly pastoralists. The main language of communication in this county is Somali, Kiswahili and some English and the population is predominantly Muslim. Mandera shares a vast and notoriously porous border with war torn Somalia. This has over time enabled militia to enter the county with significant ease causing a lot of untold troubles to both locals and non-locals.
The perennial droughts and inter-clan clashes add to the county’s woes. Majority of the population live in abject poverty with dwindling education levels as a result of inadequate infrastructure to support learning. The County has always been synonymous with chaos, intolerance and environmental degradation.
The County is known of producing Some of the top cream of the society holding envious positions in the country’s socio-economic and political set up, among them Kenya’s industrialization minister Adan Mohamed and other big names. However, the purpose of this article is not to celebrate these individuals but rather to appreciate the work of another son of Mandera County who has anonymously done a lot to ensure the betterment of Mandera County.
This none other than Abdikalif Adan, founder of The Nomad Green Belt Movement, Kenya Youth for change and The Fight against Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Maternal and child Mortality. This article rather highlights the story of a young man from a humble background and in the face of hardship and difficulties achieved greater heights than he himself could have ever imagined.
Adan was born and brought up in El-wak Sub-district of the then larger Mandera district, which today serves as the headquarters of Mandera South Sub-county. He went to El-wak DEB primary school, Mandera secondary and later to Wajir high secondary school. He was born to two political rivalry giant families, whom he later came to harmonize into achieving a better Mandera County.
From a tender age, Adan had an ambition to serve his fellow citizens of Northern and Coastal Kenya to bring change to the people’s social life. This was a deep rooted calling that constantly pushed him to work hard and achieve the dreams he has had for his life.
What motivates him, he says, is the marginalization of his people by successive government regimes. There had been efforts by both Kenyatta and Moi regimes to marginalize and treat the people from the wider northern region with contempt that had left thousands dead and more others maimed. These include calamities like the Wagalla and Malkamari massacres and constant military operations in Northern Kenya.
Poor infrastructure coupled with lack of social amenities only encouraged young Adan to find ways of uplifting his people from the misery. Adan thus feels he is on a divine sanction mission to save his people.
It all began in 2008 before he had joined an international bank in Kenya as a customer advisor. As he was watching evening news on a local TV station, stories revealing how people were suffering in parts of Northern Kenya caught his eye. During that period as a banker, he formed the Kenyan youth for change in coastal Kenya that helped to transform the lives of youth devastated by drugs and other harmful substance. He also spearheaded the formation of fight against malaria that had benefitted many people within that locality. He pioneered the eradication of Malaria through distribution of treated mosquito nets, indoor spraying of households to destitute people living in Kongowea of Mombasa as well as making an effort to educate the populace on the effective use of nets with an aim of cutting down on the prevalent infant mortality, eradication of Tuberculosis and through his concerted efforts to lower the prevalence of HIV/Aids.
He later returned to Mandera to join another local bank, where he also single handedly expanded Kenya youth for change and The Nomad Green Belt Movement in his home county. This noble projects and initiatives won the hearts and minds of people who helped his dream come true immensely. He has managed to plant thousands of trees in order to turn Mandera County from a semi-arid area to green productive county. This has in turn created employment for youth and women through agro-forestry for livelihood.
Notable Nomad green belt movement achievements are: Awareness creation among the people in Northern Kenya has been enhanced through information sharing. This is achieved mainly through local radio stations, public lecture and outreach drives. Need for clean and safe water, as the major goal was to promote water harvesting as well as plant over 30,000 trees out of which he planted 1,000 trees to mark his 32nd birthday.
He has also engaged youth in sporting activities to educate them on harmonious living with the rest of the communities in the region. Sports also provided the youth with sporting skills, networking, enhance relationship and exchange sporting programs between residents, clubs and villages.
The Kenya Youth for Change call voiced concern for integration, peaceful co-existence of communities in the Northern and Coastal Kenya regions marred by insecurity, marginalization, radicalization, extremism, identity and education crisis, prevalence of communicable diseases, child mortality, environmental conservation and poverty, preservation of cultural activities, pride, drug and substance abuse.
He is the Director and organizer of walk of hope project Mandera chapter, an initiative by young people from North Eastern (NEP) region to give hope to the community after numerous terror attacks left many hopeless and disillusioned. He and fellow youths braved the walk despite the hardship of terrain, wild mammals, scorpions, snakes, threats and fears of terror attack from Al-shabaab and other local tribal clashes. They had the longest and hardest walk in the desert, hot land and rock climbing mountains, one after another. He chose to sleep out in the jungle denying himself the comfort of his house.
His ability to motivate others was the crescendo of the success as he dedicated much of his time and conducted lots of community development activities in a marginalized underdeveloped villages on the coastal and Northern regions. More so, he put in lots of resources and financial inputs in purchase of medicine, fundraising for a burnt child, purchasing of seedlings and transporting them for long distances and ensuring that the community volunteers received them for planting in his Nomad Green Belt Movement in Mandera County and beyond.
He has so far endured lots of security risks along the path of undertaking community activities. However, this turns out to be more of motivation than what would cow him as an individual.
Adan cites that it is very hard for him to do volunteer work in some communities who are very harsh and very insensitive to people especially if one hails from other clans. However, he believes in God and considers himself as diplomat and Ambassador of change and peace.
Having had less time with his family because of frequent travelling and covering over 500 KMs twice every month, missed great friends in social circles and relationship but his aim and ambitions isn’t fulfilled until he puts smiles on the face of vulnerable people.
Adan paints the picture of a young man in a hurry to reach places, an extremely ambitious man with a tireless and indefatigable spirit. His normal day begins at 4am with prayers and reading Quran.
An avid reader who reads vastly, he dedicates his weekend and free times to programs intended to uplift the standards of society, he is driven by passion, has no boarder and time limit of doing community activities and expects nothing in return. His desire is to accord good care and love to all Kenyans regardless of their creed and
In Adan I see a true Kenyan environmentalist, health and peace ambassador, blogger, freelance writer, dreamer, walker, a lover of African history and cultures, a community crusader, revolutionist and a hero.