Yesterday, the world marked the International Youth Day. And as usual, all the youthful events and social media campaigns were filled with energy of the promise of tomorrow. The promise of a desired change in the world brought about by youth in various fields. The promise of future leaders and influencers at the center stage of global discourses.
But as some critics have pointed out, that these pomp and color are usually not any different from the ones witnessed the past year- and the year before…….and before. – But that’s a debate for another day.
Looking keenly at the level of involvement of youth in political discourses, in particular, the trend is a bit worrying. Take the BREXIT vote for instance. The vote to some extent was a contest between generations- The older in favor of BREXIT and the younger against. (Other than the contest between England and Wales on one hand and Scotland and Northern Ireland on the other). The older generation carried the day with a 51.9 percent lead. But sadly, 64 percent of youth opposing BREXIT never bothered to cast a vote- Only to start generating online petitions later.
A day before the International Youth Day, a number of Kenyan youth are spotted clinging on an MP’s vehicles for 20Kms straight in hopes of receiving handouts from the MP. Of course, the election period is here with us again, and they are just trying tricks they know best.
Now this forms the backbone of my argument today. Although I had earlier mentioned about the youth in the politics of 2017 and beyond, I still feel we are yet to sincerely start tackling the elephant in the room.
Some of the realities facing youth today include mass unemployment, poverty and lack of opportunities. Some even going an extra mile to spend days on busy roads with banners containing their qualifications in the hopes of potential employers taking note. Graduates are chained in student loan debts that they might find themselves repaying for the rest of their lives.
As the environment continues to prove harsh to the Kenyan youth, they are slowly being pushed into the underground economy. Some are ready to take risks with drug peddling, some already into prostitution camouflaging as socialites, others running “massage parlors” while others making use of soft titles such as sponsorship. (According to sociological perspective, any form of transactional sex, whether monetary or otherwise, is prostitution. PERIOD). And this, in the near future, might just end up breaking that institution in the name of Family.
Some of these circumstances the Kenyan youth find themselves in, perfectly represent the 21st Century slavery. The powerless, hopeless people left under the mercy of the so called “Forces of Nature”- The Political and Socioeconomic forces. It is this slavery that is already at work today. Pushing the youth back into their tribal cocoons in readiness for the 2017 general elections. It is this slavery that makes one believe it is his time to receive his five year- Ksh 500 allowance to re-elect “mheshimiwa”
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has just released the subsidiary Election Campaign Financing Regulation, 2016. Which I believe is in the spirit of the Kenyan Constitution. But it is still not that convincing to indicate that a gubernatorial candidate who in his/her entire term earning approximately 60 million, is allowed to spend up to 433 million in a campaign. How?
So, if a candidate who will earn a total of 60 million decides to spend the 433million in campaign and is still elected by the youth, then those youth should forever hold their peace. They should never complain of corruption. They should never complain of nepotism. They should never complain of unemployment. They should never complain of poverty and suffering. They should forever silently remain slaves.
The youth of this Country can start by having as many as possible independent candidates in various elective offices from 2017 just to unchain themselves from tribal political arrangements. This pedestrian thought that we need two or three political parties doesn’t hold any water. We already have two major coalitions, Jubilee and CORD, what is the difference? Again, a political party needs to organize around an ideology. The Republican party in the US will for instance organize around family values, among other ideologies. You will thus find more people who subscribe to family values identifying with the G.O.P . That’s how it works!
The youth should make an effort to understand how politics play. It is not just a function of electing and being elected. They should deeply immerse themselves in trying to understand the way out of this political slavery that chains them every five years. Immerse themselves so deeply that they find themselves organizing around ideologies thus formulating strategies that will see them reduce their unemployment and poverty.
In this century, everyone should make an effort to understand and participate in Politics.
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom” Nelson Mandela.