• Youths in Kenya have become synonymous with unemployment, crime, drug abuse, police harassment and marginalisation.
• Entrusting the self-serving elite to offer solutions for the youth challenges is a farce.
The majority youth population is potentially a formidable asset in the country's economic growth and development. However, educated but unemployed youths are a ticking time bomb.
Youths in Kenya have become synonymous with unemployment, crime, drug abuse, police harassment and marginalisation. Entrusting the self-serving elite to offer solutions for the youth challenges is a farce.
In their eyes, we remain a phenomenon yet to be understood. A destructive force that needs to be dealt with before it can get out of hand. While we are frightened by our lack of possibilities, the older generation shivers at our potential. Consequently, they have made it their mission to ensure we don’t realise our potential.
The Arab Uprising was engineered by youths in desire for political change. Technology, like a rifle in the hands of a skilled sniper, drove their agenda — a desire for a liberal community.
In the corridors of power, there is a dictum that power is not given rather is taken by force. Therefore, youths' continued insistence on engaging the country's leadership diplomatically to have their issues addressed is destined to fail. The elite know this.
The various programmes fronted to 'help' the youth aare cosmetic and designed to fail. Their intent is to keep the youths busy, hopefully buying into the motion for progress! Often, a few politically correct youths (read sycophants) will be allowed to head such programmes acting on the borrowed mandate from their benefactors. This political patronage reduces the appointed youth leaders to youths — by virtue of their age — while in reality, they are holding brief for the appointing authority.
Robbing youths’ opportunities is committing their future to darkness. Everything great has been done by the youths. At about age 30, Jesus Christ is said to have begun his ministry. At the age of 25 years, Alexander the Great had conquered the vast of known world. This was after an unprecedented military campaign upon his assumption of the throne at age 20.
Mozart changed the world of music with his vast works while still a teen, having written his first symphony at the age of eight. James Madison became the youngest member of the US Congress at age 29. He went ahead to write the American Constitution and even became America's fourth President.
In 1783, William Pitt, at the age of 24, rose to become the Prime Minister of England after winning a general election. Lawrence Bragg became a Nobel laureate for his research on crystal structures at age 25.
Bob woodward (29) and Carl Bernstein (28) brought down President Richard Nixon in 1974 through their excellent reporting on the Watergate Scandal.
Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel, and Steve Jobs are synonymous with young age and great success. Malala Yousafzai holds the record as the youngest Nobel laureate (17) for her activism on female education.
Kenya is a youthful country that prides itself of over 70 per cent of its population being between 18 and 35 years. With such a number, young people shouldn’t be begging to be heard or be involved in decision making.
It is imperative to have a conversation around laying a foundation that will ensure we vote in leaders who capture our aspirations and advance youth-friendly policies. These should guarantee our access to opportunities, participation and representation. We, the youth, have it within ourselves to change the voting pattern.
As a beginning, how about a strategy to ensure we vote in youths for all the MCAs' seats? Then we can have the nominated slots reserved for the elderly and other special interest groups. Only such a decisive action plan will start to reengineer the political profile in this country.
The journey towards a visionary youth-centred leadership that captures the aspirations of my generation will have begun.
Any counter argument invoking the inexperience of young people will be another ruse by the dominant ruling elite for political expedience and self-preservation. Let the youths be allowed to make mistakes, own and learn from them. In our numbers, the youths, we have the silver bullet to end this anathema of marginalisation.
“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters!” - Abraham Lincoln