Turning Point: Mob almost burnt me alive

Daudi Amani [Photo: Liz Njunguna]

“My name is Daudi Amani. I was born and raised in Kawangware. I was born in a family of four kids. I am the second born. My family was average. I was given anything that I wanted. I never lacked. But when I was in class 7, I joined the wrong group.

I was expelled from school countless times. My parents were strict and to escape their beatings, I could run away from home and seek refuge in the streets. Soon, the streets became home.

Here, I met other streets kids who introduced me to crime. They taught me how to snatch handbags, differentiate between gold and silver chains, which we later sold in Ngara. I was 14 years old then. Life was not easy and to survive, I started smoking weed and swallowing prescriptions pills. We stole to get money to buy food. We were one happy family and despite efforts by my parents to trace me, I vowed never to return home. Whenever, I could bump into them, I hid. My dad was a drunkard and my mother never worked. She washed peoples’ clothes for a living.

One day, during my rounds in town, I was arrested by officers from the City Council and taken to Othaya Approved School. Life was hell. We could be locked up in the dormitory and early in the morning, be sent to a river to shower with cold water.

Punishment here was hell. Pathetic. If you were caught in the wrong, you could be sent to the store room to look for a sack that you could fit in. Then you would be put in the sack and they would tie it up with a rope at the top. Then the disciplinarian could beat you up with a bamboo stick until he was tired. I hated that place.

Together with some of my friends, we hatched a plan to escape. One morning after taking a shower at the river, we swam and escaped. We walked all the way from Nyeri to Muranga. By the time we arrived, my feet were swollen. We found other streets boys who welcomed us and took us to restaurant where we ate left overs. They taught us places we could get money and I eventually saved enough to get bus fare back to Nairobi. I went back to my old ways; stealing to survive.

One day, I snatched a lady’s handbag in Kawangware and I hid in the crowd. Unfortunately, they caught me and started beating me up. Both of my legs were broken and I couldn’t ran away. Luckily, there was an officer patrolling the area and he saved my life. I was taken to Kenyatta Hospital where I stayed for six months. My friends helped me escape from hospital.

It was not long before I was forced to start stealing again. I needed money to buy heroine since I was now an addict. A shot cost Sh150 and I could use up to Sh1, 500 in a month. I went back to stealing in Kawagware and on this fateful day, I was caught. The mob had a tyre and they bought petrol, which they poured on me. I knew this was my last day on earth.

Luckily, a plain clothes officer shot in the air and dispersed the crowd. I was taken to police custody, but later released. I was tired of this life but the desire for drugs was really bad.  One day while I was buying a shot from my peddler, I met up with this guy who introduced himself as Countryman. He asked me if I wanted to go to rehab and after a long pause, I agreed. Life was boring since it was mostly routine, but I got used. I was enrolled for a Teen Challenge programme that really changed me.

I want to become a pastor. I want to help people who were just like me. Hopefully, I can make a difference in someone’s life”.