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article imageFaith breeds social good in Africa Special

By Samuel Okocha     Mar 17, 2013 in World
Nigerian Akin Adelakun was once a drug addict who suffered several mental disorders due to substance abuse. But his encounter with Christ has made him a campaigner against drug abuse among young people.
As a restless young man “searching for something,” peer pressure forced Adelakun into drugs in the mid-90s. He was also into cultism, a term used in referring to activities of secret confraternities in Nigeria's higher institution. With cultism, access to drugs was easy. And soon, he became an addict.
"I was searching for something. And I think that was one of the things that led me to drugs and cultism."
He continues: "It was my experience in the psychiatric hospital that really led me to Christ. And I remember that after I gave my life to Christ, there was this burning passion in me that you have to reach out to other people.”
Adelakun now educates young people on the dangers of drugs, speaking with students in secondary schools. He shares his experiences in his new book “Know Yourself.”
“I am … trying to do a kind of review, work with groups of students and try to get my book to them,” he says. “They review the book, we sit down together, they talk about what they have learned from the book and we can interact one on one.''
Adelakun, who had dropped out of school twice due to problems with drugs and cultism, found solace in sharing his faith with others.
"My coping strategy was evangelism. Writing and doing evangelism-talking to people about Christ, what he has done for me, how I met Him and how He has transformed my life- that was my own coping strategy. And before I knew what was happening I was able to overcome the issue I had."
That experience forms the root of his current campaign against drug abuse. ''Tomorrow I have a program in a school,'' Adelakun says with enthusiasm and a sense of fulfillment in one of several interviews in Lagos. "They have invited me to come and speak to the students and talk about cultism and drugs.''
The joy Adelakun experiences helping others is shared across borders by Ken Munyua, 30, in Kenya.
"I had girlfriends that I wanted to please with gifts and expensive treats which I could not afford. I engaged in immoral behavior in order to afford the treats and gifts. I became an amateur thief,” Munyua says. “On the other hand, I was a very committed member of the youth in our church. I was in the Pontifical Mass Choir animator and the leader of the altar servers group.
Munyua came to understand he suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder. " I would assume two contradicting roles," he explains in an email.
With a spiritual rebirth, Munyua decided to study psychology in school.
Munyua is now a motivational speaker, and offers personal therapy for clients. The Kenyan says he covers issues on self-awareness, stress management and alcohol and drug abuse.
But he quickly adds: "The best part of my job is when I visit schools and churches to give motivations to students and youths who may have lost hope or are wasting their time. I work with schools for seminars for teachers, students and parents."
The stories of Adelakun, 39, and Munyua, 30, underscore how faith fosters positive actions at the grassroots of African societies.
"These individuals feel that they have been created anew, and they not only want others to experience the same vitality, renewal, power and beauty in their own lives but the religiously converted want to create new communities that will support positive, ethical and humanizing relationships in the service of the common good," explains Joy Bostic, an assistant professor of religious studies with research covering issues in social justice and urban religion.
Adelakun and Munyua have big plans. Adelakun wants to continue to educate young Nigerians on the dangers and implications of substance abuse and student cultism, while Munyua hopes to start a foundation to help the less privileged in Kenya.
This piece came from a joint reporting effort with Maureen Murori who contributed report from Kenya
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