Kenya, like most countries around the globe, the majority of its population is the youth. The youth are people who are still fresh, rejuvenated with a lot of energy that when harnessed in the right way can spur and bring about lots of change in society. Unfortunately, most youths in my country have not done enough to take up this responsibility, and that’s why we have many evils ailing the country.
The corruption menace that is a thorn in our flesh, pricking us from every angle of our existence. Every day we are waking up to new corruption allegations; billions lost from public coffers, questionable awarding of government tenders, corruption in the courts, maize scandals, lost health funds, et cetera.
There’s no passing day in Kenya that you don’t hear of Corruption, and it’s really infuriating. Public hospitals have no facilities, some even lack drugs and you hear someone is getting away with billions. Today walk into any public hospital in the country and see how much you’ll be charged by the time you are being discharged.
The problem is that we the youth are not doing enough on our part to fight this problem and help end it. We keep complaining and crying foul on social media each time one of us is asked bribe, or left out on a potential job opportunity because of reasons other than competence, but we are doing nothing to stop it.
Some youths keep saying we have no power. They are right and wrong at the same time, so I believe. But how so?
They are right in the sense that most of our leadership is with the old people; the Railas of this country, the Uhurus. And that is if we look at power from the political viewpoint. If we look at power from the social and economic viewpoint, then they’re still right. A large percentage of our population is unemployed, with no financial power and even those in entrepreneurship have no claws because of insufficient funding from both the government and private sector. You finish college, have to find a job that’s not there, save enough so as to start your startup. Banks are no longer funding any Tom, Dick, and Harry with a business plan.
So the youths are left behind financially, and hence lack the necessary muscle to challenge for anything in the country. Go around Nairobi and see how many young men, graduates, are hanging in those betting shops hoping to be overnight millionaires in windfalls. I’m writing this article from a cyber cafe with around ten monitors, and seven of those have windows displaying Sportpesa, don’t mind it’s 10:48 AM in the morning.
But they are also wrong because if we the youths are the majority in the country, then we should have some sort of power, real or imaginary. We can use our numbers in choosing the right leaders — if votes count at the end of the day — and throwing ourselves in the streets to call for change through demonstrations like what the Algerian youth are doing today. If we don’t believe in the leaders we have, then we can help bring up our own crop of youthful leaders.
Power is never given, you either earn it or grab it. The latter is extreme, I know, and really don’t need it unless it’s necessary. Right now we have various avenues we can use to have a voice and earn real power as the youths of this country. Using what we already have at our disposal; entertainment industry which is often used by politicians during campaigns, the media, which is used by politicians to drive their own selfish agendas.
We remember in the last election we had divided youths who were not speaking in one voice. On social media, we saw a number of bloggers and social media influencers — paid by politicians — divided and exchanging bitterly in defense of those who they supported.
That just shows we have power but we don’t know how to use it to our advantage. If you are a writer, why don’t you use it speak against the evils and all the problems we face as a society. If you have to rally for a politician, then let it be for someone worth it. Let it be for someone who can help heal and improve the lives of the people and not a selfish and corrupt politician.
The same goes for musicians, poets, the clergy, journalists. Let us use our God-given talents to do good in our country. We shouldn’t be living like we are living today. Our people shouldn’t be dying of malaria. Our roads ought not to have road jams on a daily basis. Our people shouldn’t be dying of hunger at this age. No one should get away with our money; a billion, a million or even a shilling.
We have REAL power, let the politicians know they need our signature if they have to lead — not rule — us. Let us make it really hard for a corrupt individual to get into public office.
Some youths on this continent have done it and found it effective. In Senegal, Rap music is a real instrument of change. The youths have used it to bring accountability and have leaders of their own choice into public offices.
In Senegal, youths love rap music and rappers have a loyal following, and what they stand for is really taken seriously by their supporters. It’s really hard for any politician to get into office if they have no good faith from these rappers and their supporters as well. In Senegal, unlike in the US and even here in Kenya, where for you to succeed in the music industry you have to talk about; drugs, sex, money, and gang violence, there you have to talk against the issues affecting the society like bad politics, violence, drugs, just to name a few. And it has really worked for Senegal. It can work for us as well.