Cop’s fitness routine attracts youth and keeps them off crime
Amos Nyakundi Obaigwa attached to the Special Forces Unit started jogging as part of his hobby during his leave in March this year. However, youths joined him one after another and now he is keeping them busy during Covid-19 pandemic as well as creating awareness to end vices rampant in his community.
He is often described as that humorous person, with a broad smile and high-wattage friendliness that wins over even the wariest.
Be it when on duty as a law enforcement officer or when at his home in Kiangoso sub location, Nyamira county, Amos Nyakundi Obaigwa, is not your ordinary man in blue.
Even before completing his primary education in Kerongo Dok, a local school in 2002, Nyakundi always wanted to join the forces, maybe as a childhood fascination or call to service, it’s fair to say, he is yet to discover.
And for the last eight months, the police officer has been in touch with his community more than ever.
He started a fitness group, named Kijana Wa Cop Fitness Group, in March, whose sole purpose initially was campaigning for the health benefits of physical activities in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic, specifically calling for and embracing outdoor fitness.
Little did Nyakundi envision that the thin group of seven members that he started with would grow to over 60 members as of last month.
Be it fully kitting the members with branded training gear, uniforms and shoes or sponsoring occasional team-building hikes, Nyakundi rejoices in the act of giving.
“Initially, it started as a hobby. I was at home during my leave, jogging in the evening as part of my fitness lifestyle.
Soon I had up to seven people wanting to join me. Therein, I saw a gap. Now we have qualified trainers that work with the ever-growing group,” says Nyakundi.
Much more than fitness goals
Just as many gyms moved fitness classes outdoors and online for the first time in response to social distancing measures, the Kijana Wa Cop Fitness group has been training from the historic Manga hills, along Nyamira and Kisii border.
Members meet daily from 5am for averagely an hour of training and interactions.
From a point of knowledge, the 2008 graduate from the National Youth Service (NYS) says Kenya, just like other countries around the world are grappling with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including health and social economic impacts.
A last born in a family of seven; five girls and two boys, the 33-year-old attached to the Special Forces Unit in Mandera county, one of Kenya’s volatile border town, says young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions the pandemic has caused, and many are now at risk of being left behind in education, economic opportunities, health and wellbeing during a crucial stage of their life development.
“Besides our normal training sessions, we have taken full advantage of the big numbers to talk to the youth that we indeed understand that many of the hardship faced during the Covid-19 crisis are also known risk factors associated with crime, violence and drugs use and may expose youth to increased victimisation and involvement with crime during and after the pandemic.
Also we get to talk freely about dangers of early marriages and even the issue of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is rampant in our region,” underscored the former student of St Ignatius Mukumu Boys High School, Kakamega (2002-2005).
FGM for instance, Nyakundi says, is one topic people don’t talk freely about in the Kisii community.
Having his wife, Susan Chemutai, as one of the active members of the group, is perhaps an illustration of how serious the group is dear to him.
Playing a role
Recently, Nyakundi ,a graduate of Embakasi Police Training College (2009), has partnered with a number of non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) that have come in handy to assist young girls and boys.
“I am happy some NGO’s are noticing my efforts and volunteering to work with us in helping create awareness in the society,” notes Nyakundi, insisting that while the country might have passed the law prohibiting FGM in 2011, the vice is still rampant.
He is cognisant of the fact that the larger Kisii region has the third highest rate of FGM in the country.
Despite being a police officer, he believes, progressive talk and not using force will solve the generational practice.
“While it might have been a cultural practice, I think men have a role to play if the illegal act is to end.
We have to rally other men to join the fight against FGM and other harmful cultural practices,” he says.
With the 2022 elections not so far away, he advises the youth, who are usually used as gun for hire, not to join outlawed groups.
He says, there is need to articulate issues, agree to disagree without necessarily resorting to violence.
“Our youths are more than Chinkororo, Amachuma, Sungu Sungu, which are some of the outlawed groups in Kisii. We have to keep reminding them that they are better than that,” he adds.
He followed in the footsteps of his late father Clement Obaigwa, a former police officer who worked to bridge the gap between the police officers and the community pushing for both sides of the divide to work together.
“I am guided by the principle that once I remove my uniform, I’m just like any other citizen in the country. And I cannot run away,” says the father of two, Moraa (six) and Junior (four).
In his absence, he has employed trainers/ coaches to help keep the group going.