In his poem “Rough Path”, Yousef Kamara reflects on his years selling drugs and stealing as the leader of a street gang in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown. After quitting the gang three years ago, 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. 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 that encourages underprivileged young people to enter the arts. 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.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA