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Meet the former Gaza gang leader who is now a poet

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n his poem “Rough Path”, Yousef Kamara reflects on his years of selling drugs and stealing as the leader of a street gang in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

“Like a traveller in a rough jungle/Self-propelling all alone/Edging through danger sharper than blades/My rough path is a cracked zone,” he writes.

After quitting the gang three years ago, Mr Kamara now hopes his journey to acclaim as a poet can offer an example to other wayward youths in Freetown, where increasing numbers are joining gangs modelled on the Bloods and Crips of Los Angeles, US.

Kamara has been published in several international poetry magazines and was invited last year to attend the African Writers Conference in Kenya.

It is a dramatic turnaround for someone who spent the majority of his life leading Giverdam Gaza, a gang of several dozen members he founded as a teenager on Freetown’s Exodus Lane.

Beat somebody up

“If you were looking for some thugs… to beat somebody up, you’d just rush down Exodus Lane and get the Giverdam boys to do the job,” said Kamara, who stands about six-feet tall with short dreadlocks and large biceps covered in tattoos.

Tired of life on the streets, however, he began looking for an exit and found one through Way Out, a media studio founded by an English filmmaker in 2008, which encourages underprivileged young people to enter the arts.

Kamara decided to try his handwriting poems after seeing some of his friends enrol in a poetry course. He quickly took to it, tapping out verses on his beat-up cell phone.

“You need to give people… something they can take back to their communities and say, ‘I’m not the bad guy you used to know’,” said Gibrilla Kamara (no relation to Yousef) who is Way Out’s office manager and a former member who spent much of his life homeless.

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He is a very dangerous man! Sonko’s daughter accuses senator of attempting to kill her

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Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip and Saumu Mbuvi, daughter of former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, have announced their separation following wrangles and disagreement.

The reports were fuelled by photos and videos of Senator Loitiptip hanging out with a female friend.

Saumu, on Instagram, announced that the two have separated, claiming that she has undergone domestic violence under Loitiptip.

“These are the things he did to me,” wrote Saumu, in one of her photos showing a swollen face and bruised lips.

“He almost killed me. I will forever fight for women to stand for their rights. Never allow a man to be violent to you.”

She also claimed that the senator had neglected their child, leaving Saumu as the primary caregiver.

Loitiptip told Kenyans.co.ke that Saumu shared her father’s traits and was suffering from bipolar disorder, threatening to expose her past to prove his claim.

The two have been dating for months and at one point planned to get married. However, Sonko’s daughter clarified that the two had split before officiating their union.

“Wedding date confirmed,” she captioned a picture of herself and the senator in June 2020.

Her previous relationship with businessman cum politician Ben Gatu also ended after she accused him of being violent.

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US raises alarm over Covid-19 cases surge in Tanzania

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The US government has revealed that there are significant cases of Covid-19 in Tanzania.

This is just a week after it advised its citizens against travelling to the East African country.

“The US Embassy is aware of a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases since January 2021,” the Embassy said.

In a Health alert, the US said the practice of Covid-19 mitigation and prevention measures remains limited.

The Tanzanian government has not released aggregate numbers on Covid-19 cases or deaths since April 2020.

“Healthcare facilities in Tanzania can become quickly overwhelmed in a healthcare crisis. Limited hospital capacity throughout Tanzania could result in life-threatening delays for emergency medical care,” US said.

The Department of State’s travel advisory level for Tanzania is Level 3.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that travellers should avoid all travel to Tanzania.

The Embassy continues to recommend that all individuals take caution in day-to-day activities.

President John Magufuli assured the 58 million inhabitants that they need not worry about observing Covid-19 preventative measures.

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Siwachii wezi! Uhuru vows not to leave the country to thieves in 2022

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday made a surprising stop to lecture Nairobi residents after finishing his engagement at the National Cargo Deconsolidation Centre (NCDC-Nairobi).

The Head of State said he was angry at Nairobians for being against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill stating that the report has given Nairobi more constituencies.

“If we have a BBI that says the people of Nairobi will have more constituencies and if it’s bursaries a child in Mathare who today receives Ksh500, how will that child study up to university level,” President Kenyatta said.

“But there is another child who gets Ksh100,000 in Busury per year is that right?… BBI is not for helping Raila or Uhuru it is for you,” he continued.

Uhuru went on to disclose that he has no plans to rule after his term is over and his interest is in finishing the job that Kenyans elected him to do.

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