How To Start a Successful Youth Initiative in Mombasa in 10 Easy Steps

It happens that I was minding my business when a friend who had been recently transferred to Mombasa, and we share a similar first name didn’t stop to exclaim that it seems everyone here runs their own mentorship scheme. We were at the Old Town tea place. Confession, other than the occasional conversation I’m actually a bloody bore but made an effort since he came, keeping him company as he integrates into Mombasa society. His statement, however, threw me back to when I was also integrating; back from school and shocked by the huge surge of CBOs in Mombasa. Well, I’m glad some of them died. I don’t know. Or maybe they’re hibernating somewhere. Who knows? Anyways, Hassan pulled me back in and asked if he was maybe unknowingly attacking me because, and I quote, “I look like the type who would secretly have my own mentorship scheme.” …I know, right?  Anyways, we laughed it off, adding a business proposition that we start ours. Wow! The escalation to that but oh well. What do these mentorship schemes offer these people anyway, he asked. I honestly don’t know. Buuut, with the help of an expert, who is also myself, I, yours truly might have just cracked the code to starting a successful one. Or any Mombasa youth-based initiative for that matter.

  1. Build a community

Well, of sheep obviously. Make sure you find people so desperate for belonging that they wouldn’t dare question you; agree with everything you say. In fact, anyone who disagrees with you should be labelled as a first-rate hater. Remember, without these sheep, you’re nothing. Well, don’t call them sheep obviously. Something nice will do, like a support system, you know. Your support system establishes your legitimacy. If you weren’t doing anything meaningful, there wouldn’t be anyone behind you.

  1. Put one person at the centre of it

And why stop there? Make them the centre of the universe. Give them a pedestal and dub them the realest person you know. What is chairman? Give them a cool ass name like president or supreme leader. Plus, make sure they have a tragic backstory they can repeat at each and every event. Ensure the Supreme leader (Insert Dictator accent) is a holier than thou type who doesn’t shy from exerting the superiority of their values and opinions over everybody else’s. In fact, the only thing they preach should be how everyone should be like them. And that, if THEY can do it, (I don’t know do what honestly) no one else has an excuse not to.

  1. Appeal to people’s emotions

Say a lot of words, people like that. It doesn’t have to be clever or even make sense, as long as you’re heard. Say things like, “Are we even friends if you don’t support me?” (Well yes Karen, I still am. But that’s just me.) Shit works. Use every podium to preach about change oh wise one. Just don’t tell us how to go about it. We don’t want to hear any of that. While you’re at it, please repeat the same things constantly, throw in words like resilience and changing the narrative, and that quote you saw on Instagram.

  1. Organise social events and call them projects.

Who said anything about originality? Just copy what everyone else is doing. No! Not a different orphanage. Just the one. Or take people’s daughters to clean the beach. Save them from rotting in their father’s houses, and with that, the getting of people’s sons to come will take care of itself. Give them some preoccupation, it doesn’t matter. You could use religion for all I care as long as you put a thousand youth under one roof. Of course you talk about marriage, what else is there? Just don’t forget to tell them, ‘you don’t want to miss this’ (Well, nice of you to assume that cause of course I want to miss it.)

Anyways, your army of minions, cough* cough* support system will come in handy to round these people up.

  1. Invite ASN

Stop asking why. Just follow the script.

  1. Take good pictures

Buy a good camera for the gram, innit?

  1. Never Collaborate with organisations who will outshine you in your own event

This is important. Always remember that this is war and you’re in it to win it. Collaboration is for losers. “Thou shall only collaborate with organisations who seem to have no future whatsoever.” “Thou shall have them running around like rabbits.” Never, I repeat, never should you substitute that with collaborators who contribute ideas and whatnot. This is not that type of initiative. This dream is too big to involve everyone else.

  1. Give people certificates they can’t take anywhere.

Well, you know… basically an autograph that they were there. No one cares if your course is approved by… I don’t know, NITA or whatever. Just give the people a thick signed paper with their name on it.

You’ll be nailing this.

  1. Gear more effort towards recruiting new members

Stop worrying about the old sheep. Sooner or later, those ungrateful pricks come to think that they deserve better. After all you’ve done for them. But it’s easier to get newer ones now. You’re credible, you know? But in the event you want to keep all your support system… who am I kidding, sheep, feed them with the occasional ‘opportunity.’ As long as you do that once in a while, you’re good. Everyone is happy.

Sidenote: Top shelf sheep can only be acquired through mentorship schemes. I no longer know what those are but…yeah. I can’t emphasize that enough. Have people call you ‘mentor’ before your name. Doctors do it and they’re just doctors. Make sure you emphasise to everyone else, no matter how much time moves on that these are your mentees. Especially if they untangle themselves from you and go on to do remarkable things. You’re their messiah and they would’ve been picking trash if it wasn’t for you.

  1. Create an unknown award/ List and nominate social media influencers.

MUHAHAHA! This is the most genius. You want to eliminate some of the steps and witness exponential growth? Strike at dawn. Nominate local influencers and feed on their vanity. Watch them put your post on their story exposing their sheep to you and watch your follower count skyrocket overnight. What you do with that power after, depends on you.


And when the dust settles, start that doomed to fail political party you’ve always wanted to in the first place as you fiercely move towards your mission for world domination MUHAHAHAHA!!! Or maybe not.


And well folks, those are our findings, penultimately, putting in mind the constraints of our budget. But we are proud to say this is the most failproof, state-of-the-art blueprint of making it in these streets and I wish you all the best in its implementation. MUHAHAHAHA!!!

Hmm, I think the next article in this category should be how to write about Mombasa. I already have the first step: Must be a hater.

CBOs, Mentorship, Mombasa, Motivational Speakers, Youth

Hassan Kassim

Hassan Kassim is a Mombasa-based Creative non-fiction writer, recently longlisted for the Toyin Falola prize, blogger and translator of Kiswahili work. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa and the European Union(E.U), and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management. Hassan writes about the ill-documented Communities of Coastal Kenya. His work has appeared in Writers Space Africa; his 2 non-fiction stories published in the anthology 'Twaweza,' a collaborative effort of 12 African writers on the African identity and set to appear in the forthcoming anthology for the Toyin Falola prize.

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Hassan Kassim is a Kenyan-based Creative non-fiction writer, blogger and translator of Kiswahili works with over 2 years of experience. A beneficiary of the Penpen program by African Writers Development Trust(AWDT) commissioned by Culture at Work Africa, and holds his Bachelor’s degree in Maritime Management.


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