Oscar Githua is one of the men charged with the task of tackling one of Kenya’s biggest challenges – runaway crime – using soft power. Dr Githua bears the distinction of being East Africa’s first forensic psychologist – a field that applies psychological principles to the fight against crime.
Being the trail-blazer that he is, Dr Githua spends most of his time building structures that encourage use and appreciation of forensic psychology in Kenya’s justice system as is the norm in advanced nations such as the United States.
“Our job is to help those in the justice system – be they the police, judges or prison wardens – to understand what goes on in the mind of a criminal,” he says, adding that understanding what leads a person to commit crime is the only sustainable means of fighting delinquency in society. He also makes it to the 2014 Top 40Under40 list for the contribution he has made to the growth of psychology in Kenya.
He was pivotal in the crafting of the historic Kenya Psychologists and Counsellors Bill that became law early this year. This is the law that regulates the practise of counselling whilst protecting Kenyans from manipulation by conmen.
Dr Githua was the leader of the team that voluntarily brought together 400 professional counsellors and psychologists to provide mental healing to survivors of the 2013 Westgate mall terrorist attack in Nairobi.
Currently, Dr Githua is leading a team of civilian psychologists who are working in collaboration with the Kenya Defence Forces to offer psychological support to military combatants who are often traumatised in operations. He is also a warrior in the fight against drug abuse and works as an independent consultant with Nacada.