Youth of Kenya Arise

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It is yet another election year and the whole country finds itself engrossed in preparation for this major event. Politicians are up and running trying to drum up support for their parties. The electorate are paying keen attention as they eagerly await to exercise their democratic right. Naturally, the government has assured the country and all stakeholders of a peaceful, free and fair process. As expected, the electoral commission is readying itself to oversee a credible and verifiable process. Everyone seems to be eagerly awaiting their chance to participate and play their role in this year’s election. Or are they?

As we gear up for the election, there remains a sizeable chunk of the population that remains aloof, albeit in an unnoticeable way, as far as political participation is concerned. We still have a fraction, a huge one for that matter, that remains cut off from the political process. Their lack of adequate participation arises from a deficiency of the required resources that have nowadays become a necessity for one to pursue their political ambition. They lack a platform that speaks the voice they would listen to. But perhaps the greatest cause of their marginal participation lies in their inadequate knowledge of the political system and possible underestimation of their political capabilities. They are the youth of Kenya.

Our decades- long evolution of politics in Kenya has, clearly, led to an unhealthy stratification of the political class in the country, so that we find ourselves with only a tiny minority of the population that continually steps in to serve as the leadership, with the rest, the majority, standing at the periphery. Throughout our history, it has been difficult for anyone else apart from those already in the ruling class to participate in politics. Leadership has become a preserve of the few, wealthy, powerful individuals we know. We have at the top of our nation a group of people completely cut off from the rest of the population. We have, as our leaders, a class of individuals in a different economic standard as compared to the rest of the toiling majority; employers and landlords as compared to employees and tenants; aristocrats and aged as compared to workers and youth.

But why this state of affairs? Isn’t this a democratic republic? Doesn’t everyone have the right to political participation? Isn’t everyone entitled to full political liberty as entitled in the constitution? Doesn’t the constitution give everyone equal rights regardless of their gender, age, tribe or race? Why this talk of non – participation for a sizeable chunk of the population then? Why this inability for the majority of the population to equally participate in the political process?

An inquiry into the nature and state of politics in our country would give some insight. The youth hardly participate in leadership not because of any oppression or lacking the rights and freedoms to participate. The lack of adequate participation among the majority of the population, the toiling masses of Kenya, has nothing to do with the barring of such people as per the constitution. This lack of participation stems from the electoral process which has developed to cunningly edge out the have-nots from rising into leadership positions by placing bottlenecks and endless fees on the aspirants. The ruling class, in sly fashion, has further reduced the campaign process into an absurd dishing out of money and other material commodities, thus creating a bar too high for the ordinary “mwananchi” to reach.

The impact of this is that it deviates the whole point of campaigns, from a sensible discussion of potential policies into a non- sensible flexing of financial strength. Further, we find ourselves having elected the wrong people who pile misery into our already underdeveloped state. Thus, the youth and other ordinary people find themselves locked out of leadership.

All is not lost though. That the youth of Kenya have an inadequate knowledge of their political capabilities is an understatement. The youth constitute the largest voting bloc in the country- this if they register and turn out in numbers. With adequate knowledge of the political system, the youth can potentially become the driving force of leadership and politics in Kenya. With adequate political consciousness that cuts across our various tribal groupings, we shall have the power to determine the destiny of our country. We have the ability to put an end to the tribal and petty politics that dominate our country and put our society into backwardness and underdevelopment. In our unity of purpose lies the key to the ultimate fulfilment of the aspirations of the people of Kenya. Let’s arise. Let’s be worthy of this mission!

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