Former football players Tedium Rodgers and Shwaib Mohammed have pleaded for acceptance in society after serving more than 15 years in prison each.

Rodgers was released after 19 years at Kamiti Maximum Prison while Mohammed served 17 years.

The two said they have reformed. “I  humbly request the society to accept us. Don’t make our lives difficult,” Mohammed pleaded.

He at the same time asked the government to assist ex-convicts to get jobs so that they d0 not return to jail.

Rodgers, who was ‘Teddy’ to close friends, was a midfielder with Mathare United before he was convicted of robbery with violence.  Mohammed too was a midfielder.

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The duo confessed they engaged in crime for quick money to take care of their families.

While in prison, Rodgers coached other inmates as part of his rehabilitation and also because of his passion for football.

The road to normal life hasn’t been easy for the jailbirds. They caution young people to avoid crime and instead follow the long and narrow path to financial independence.

“I just want to tell the youth that crime and drugs don’t pay. Stick to what you earn and keep working hard,” Rodgers said.

He added, “Look at me. I was a great footballer but see where I am now, aged and depending on my mum for upkeep. Crime will never pay.”  

Mohammed says it’s challenging to get documents, including the national identity card, a crucial document in transacting even the smallest of businesses.

“It’s tough out here. I have been forced to depend on my mum even though she is elderly,” said Rodgers.

Mohammed also relies on his mum for basic needs.

The duo says the society should give them a second chance, alongside others who have spent time behind bars.

Kiarie Mwangi, who works with a programme that rehabilitates prisoners, regrets that ex-convicts are stigmatised by society.

Kiarie has been of great help to Rodgers and Mohammed since the two were in prisons. He believes former prisoners have a role to play in society.

“One of the most difficult things for an ex-offender is to get a good conduct certificate. You can’t get a job without that certificate. The reform and rehabilitation should also be addressed outside the prison,” he said.

At Kamiti, Rodgers helped to highlight the plight of inmates. His actions and football network caught the attention of corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities of some organisations. The organisations want to make prisoners feel accepted by the wider society.

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Kenyan Premier  League, in conjunction with Zeb Strong Foundation, recently organised a prisoners’ league which was concluded two months ago.