It’s no longer in question that the word youth has become a lucrative business opportunity for some state and non-state actors. The only tragedy is that the humongous profits extracted from this group seldom trickle down to the largest ( 76 per cent) demographic in Kenya.
Appealing reports are launched about the demographic every single day yet their state remains the same – vulnerable, deprived, oppressed, pauperised and exploited.
For some career youth ‘activists’, business is booming as they take lucrative positions in government and in the ranks of development partners using ‘youth’ as a bargaining tool. They may confess their love for youth but their hearts are far away from them. The same faces represent the youth, some for decades, making one wonder whether they started working while in their mothers’ wombs.
Enough is enough. We cannot continue to use young people of Kenya as doormats. Apart from using them as springboard to a better life, the jobs we are willing to give them are low paying unskilled work considered for those who are the scum of the earth.
While the political class are willing to invite them to run campaigns and deliver votes through their creative ideas, after delivering the promise, they are reminded where they belong. They are swiftly handed slashers, bullets through extrajudicial killings, menial jobs such as clearing sewage, as the lucrative deals go to the usual well-connected, privileged ‘youths’.
Fifty-four years after Independence, young people are only reminded how useful they are when their votes are needed. Yet when votes are counted and the last winner declared, the youth are packed in abandoned rooms, just like ballot boxes waiting for the next election cycle.
The youth are not found in the top echelons of leadership. Not because they are unqualified. The tragedy is that appointments follow the same old tired, tasteless and offensive patronage linkages.
The government must walk the talk in putting the youth at the centre of the development agenda. An agenda that will reduce inequality and vulnerability, increase alternatives, dignify people, decrease poverty and increase living wages for young people.
The Big Four, though county functions hijacked by the national government, should be implemented in strict adherence to the Constitution. The implementation should be in a sustainable manner that will not further enrich the top one per cent at the expense of the rest.
The Building Bridges initiative needs to stop being about the political survival of an oligarchy that has sucked the soul of the country and impoverished everybody else except their families. The youth, whom the old ruling class has borrowed the country from and who often bear the brunt of political violence, should be at the centre of implementing the initiative.
The youth should organise and demand an audit of the debt register so that these loans (some odious) that are being copiously consumed from China will not choke them.
The only outrage among the youth is that there is no outrage. While we are on our own, we have allowed ourselves to be divided along ethnic lines. Those who benefit from this division are a small clique of ethnic barons and their families while the rest of us are left hungry.
The clarion call to the youth is to organise early, preferably around a new vibrant political ideology. For us to take the whole cake from the ruling class, we must reject the bowl of soup we have often accepted of squatting in personality drive and ethnic formations in place of our birthright.
Field marshal Dedan Kimathi did not beg for space in the Kenya Land and Freedom Army. He earned it. He was not an octogenarian when he joined the army.
It’s never too early to run or fight for the salvation of our country, which is evidently on the brink of a total collapse. Viva to the youths as we rise up to deliver our country from the jaws of corruption, oligarchy, income inequality and police brutality.