Tales of courage: My treacherous journey with drugs and conquering addiction

Mudhafar Yusuf Musa

Mudhafar Yusuf Musa, who is on treatment for drug addition, has been clean for over two years.

Photo credit: Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Heroin wasted a bigger part of my youthful life. In fact, I haven’t enjoyed my youth because drug addiction led me to live a carefree and dangerous life.

I was shameless and inhumane that I would steal even from my own mother and siblings just for a sachet of heroin or cocaine.

That was the life I lived for 10 years but what pains me the most is that heroin addiction made me lose my ‘mzungu’ fiancée of over 10 years.

The pain of losing the love of my life prompted me to join the Lamu Methadone Clinic for medically assisted therapy (MAT), and this is my third year since I stopped abusing heroin.

But I have decided to look at life differently. I am happy, sober and this is my story:

My name is Mudhafar Yusuf Musa. I am 31 years old.

I was born in Langoni within Lamu Island, the sixth-born in a family of eight.

I went to Mahmoud Bin Fadhil Mkomani Boys Primary School.

Later, I joined Lamu Bujra Boys Secondary School but dropped out in Form Two because of poverty. The death of my father while I was in class seven hit my family hard.

We didn’t have money to sustain my secondary school studies and I decided to quit learning out of frustrations and became a beach boy in an effort to make ends meet. By then, I was 18 years old.

In 2010, I met this Spanish woman, a doctor by profession, on the beaches of Lamu Island.

We fell madly in love.

We would hire our own dhow and go for snorkelling and fishing adventures in various places of the Lamu Archipelago.

The lady would spoil me with cash. Life was good.

It was during this time that a fellow beach boy, who was also in a romantic relationship with a foreign fiancée, approached me and advised me to consider using heroin as a sexual booster to retain my ‘mzungu’ lady.

He said it was clear that my fiancée was rich and that it would be improper for me to lose her.

For some reason, I was convinced.

And so I started abusing heroin, though secretly. I ensured my fiancée didn't know what I consumed. She would give me cash to use only for me to go behind her back and buy heroin.


Mudhafar Yusuf Musa interacts with Muslim clerics in Lamu Town

Photo credit: Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

During the first days, things were good as I would be extremely active in bed.

My fiancée would even ask what I consume but I would lie to her that seafood was the secret behind all that.

The more I consumed heroin, the more addictive it became. I would use between Sh5,000 to Sh6,000 just to buy heroin and satisfy my addiction.

I consumed the drug between the years 2011 to 2020. It reached a point I would not even spend time with my fiancée as usual but rather sneak and go to joints to purchase heroin and consume it.

My fiancée became suspicious. She started to investigate and she was later informed by some of my friends that I was abusing hard drugs.

Between the years 2018 and 2019, my fiancée and parents tried talking me out of drug abuse.

I would not listen to her, my siblings, or even my mother.

My fiancée was angered and frustrated by my behaviour. She slowly stopped funding me and in 2020, all hell broke loose.

One day she invited me for dinner at a luxurious joint in Lamu Old Town where she told me that our relationship is over.

That same week, my fiancée booked a flight and went back to Spain. She even cut communication links with me.

At the time, I didn’t care as heroin was the only important thing to me.

Several months after our break-up, life became hard as I had spent all the savings that my girlfriend had left me with before we parted ways.

I became frustrated, especially with how I would sustain the expensive life of abusing heroin and cocaine. By then, I couldn’t live without the drugs.

These substances are expensive though they are available and sold secretly on the streets. I struggled a lot to sustain the expensive lifestyle.

I had no job but applied all means, including stealing gold items from my own mother just to sell and get money to buy cocaine or heroin.

Because my addiction was now open, my siblings disliked me.

I would command my mother, who is a widow, to give me money every day to buy heroin or else I take household items from our home to sell and buy drugs.

My family was totally disappointed.

My mother tried all means to rescue me from drugs. Some friends also intervened and took me to counsellors and rehabilitation centres in and outside Lamu in vain. 

My brothers and sisters despised me because of what they considered as bad behaviour. They said I was tarnishing the family image.

In Lamu Town, most of my friends disassociated themselves with me.

Life became unbearable. I was always broke but there was the need to sort out my addiction problem, whether I liked it or not.

I fully resorted to burglary. I would break into neighbours’ houses and steal.

This made the community become harsh towards me. I used to be chased like a dog by those who spotted me in their compounds. Every person that saw me would think I wanted to harm or steal from them.

I was indeed a dangerous person as I would fight and take phones or any valuables from people on the streets of Lamu Old Town just to sell and buy heroin.

No one wanted to see me close to them.

I would spend most of my nights on abandoned boats in the Indian Ocean or the seafront area of Lamu. I lost my dignity.

Just a few days after welcoming the New Year 2021, I felt life was extremely useless. I became tired of the lifestyle and felt my life was meaningless.

The 10 years of abusing heroin was nothing but torture. I felt I wasn’t normal anymore. Enough is enough. What haven’t I done? I realised I had so many regrets that I now fully credit for pushing me to change my lifestyle. And that’s the time I made the resolution to quit drugs.

But where was I to start since rehabilitation and counselling had already hit a dead end?


The Lamu Methadone clinic at King Fahd County Hospital compound where Mudhafar Yusuf Musa has for the past three years been receiving counselling and methadone treatment to quit heroin.

Photo credit: Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

Luckily enough, on March 5, 2021, the Muslims Education and Welfare Association (MEWA) opened the doors of its first-ever Methadone Clinic at King Fahad County Hospital in Lamu Town. 

I decided to seek help at the clinic myself.

I thank Allah. They accepted, did all the required tests, and registered me immediately as one of the first clients.

I am now in my third year of methadone treatment (where a patient takes a daily dose of methadone to reduce their withdrawal symptoms and cravings for drugs), and I can attest that being on therapy has helped me look at life differently and treat myself with dignity.

The centre has made me realise my worth and motivated me to strive to be clean and sober.

Mudhafar Yusuf Musa

Mudhafar Yusuf Musa speaks with Muslim cleric Ustadh Said Swaleh in Lamu Town. 

Photo credit: Kalume Kazungu | Nation Media Group

You can imagine the way I would go for months without a shower and it didn’t bother me.

Ladies would despise me.

They didn’t want to be associated with me. There was no one to love me.

But with time, things changed completely and positively.

Even the ladies started to like and love me again. I gained the respect I had lost to drugs.

People started to have confidence in me. I now started to feel the need to be loved again. And I started approaching ladies.

In August 2022, I married Sumeiya Aboud, a Bajuni lady from Mbwajumwali Village in Lamu East with whom we have one child and she is also six months pregnant.

Life is now good and I am happy again.

The 10-year heroin addiction made me realise that there’s nothing good in drugs.

I am calling upon my friends still on the streets who are willing to reform to try this methadone treatment. It is possible to change if one chooses to.

I can attest that for 10 years I was careless and resigned to fate but thanks to the treatment I am getting better. My wife, my mother, and my entire family are truly happy again.

I want to be a role model in this place where most youth are engaging in drugs. Let the addicts know that recovering from hard drugs like heroin or cocaine is a difficult process that requires selflessness, patience, and focus. As for me, I have decided to totally reform. I already feel the future is bright. I am confident in the near future, I will go totally clean.

My advice to youth: don’t let drugs run and ruin your life.