The long Christmas holidays are almost over and it is no doubt that most youth have been to greater mischief than ever before. With some having concluded schooling the festive mood provided them the best chance to experiment with drugs and alcohol.
The year 2008 was particularly difficult for the youth in Kenya. Many were arrested in nightclubs for either being under-age (below 18 years) or for having dressed scantily as if they were commercial sex workers out to entice clients. At the start of December 2008, for instance, some girls who had gone out partying at club Qatika in Nairobi’s Westlands neighbourhood were arrested for “poor” dressing. The girls, who had most of their flesh exposed to the entire world, were having a good time until the police cracked down and whisked them away to the Parklands police station.
A casual survey of any urban centre across Kenya reveals that the youth are inclined towards high-risk lifestyles: violent crime, commercial sex, alcohol and drugs.
A report by the movement against substance abuse in Africa, Drug Line Kenya 2007, indicates that Kenya has an estimated five million smokers, 90% of whom are classified as youth, 75% of the smokers get hooked while underage. The youth were among the militias who murdered, destroyed property, raped and maimed people during the infamous 2007 post-election violence that rocked Kenya at the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008.
Everyone seems to point an accusing finger at the youth and feel good calling them a lost generation. However, they all seem to forget that they have contributed to the kind of trends that are witnessed among the youth. Be it the church, parents or the politicians, the moral decadence among the youth cannot be discussed without mentioning them.
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Relationship between children and the extended families has continually grown thinner and thinner and as a result, children lack people to instill in them the good morals. The advice that was offered by grand parents and other members of the extended family is gone. Many parents have dedicated most of their time to work and hardly spend time with their children. As a result they never realise when their children go astray and only learn of the situation after it has got out of control. To most children their parents are strangers who only cater for their school fees, food, clothing and shelter.
For those who are lucky to have parents who come home early, the situation is not any better. Their parents keep on battering each other in their presence. This crisis within marriage is attributed to the continued growth of the lost generation. Children grow up with no sound parental care that should instill confidence in them. Hence they grow up while traumatised or depressed by the day-to-day incidents that they witness from the parents.
Introduction of boarding schools could have been such a good idea. However, the experiences that children are exposed to in the schools leave many of them disillusioned. Some come out of the school with no knowledge but qualified in stealing from others.
The bad dressing habit among the female gender is something that is spoken about more often and starts when the girls are very young. Mothers often dress young girls in very small skirts and dresses that cover very little. When poor dressing starts at an early age, no one then expects a 21 year old to dress any differently. The dressing code you witness among the women is a true reflection of their early childhood.
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The youth themselves say they are not to blame for the predicament. Lack of suitable adult role models for the youth is the problem. People whom the youth can live looking up to hardly exist. Many may think that the bad behaviour started only yesterday but to those who have been around for long know that this is something that started decades ago. In the 1980s, today’s parents’ age mates started indulging in youthful lifestyles. Children would meet their parents in beer joints and other dubious places. This marked the start of a lost generation
Social analysts agree that most young people comprise a lost generation groping around in disillusionment and without anyone to help them. They are worried that the generation born between 1975 and 1990 is suffering from an identity crisis thus lacking the confidence to take charge of their destiny.
The poor economic state can also be attributed to the whole mess. The number of qualified youth who are jobless is worrying; more than two million youth are jobless while three million others have an income that is categorised as “slave wage”. Many problems that the youth have to put up with everyday cause them lots of pain and some turn to smoking and beer and hit the dance floors to drive away all their troubles.
However, as many may heap all the blame on the parents there are other parties who neither care nor think about the youth,the political leaders.
In the 1980s politicians formed groups like Mungiki, Taliban and Kamjesh. To ensure that these groups continued to live on to this day, they deliberately refused to empower the youth economically. This forced the youth to join these groups or do other petty errands that have all along bred dependency. Up to this day, some of the groups continue to exist and have become a great menace to the entire society.
Contribution by the church could be doubted but for those who visit the house of God regularly will bear witness that churches have become venues where the youth who intend to indulge in any form of mischief can gather without anyone interfering with them. The odd hours that some churches conduct prayers provide youths with a chance to sneak out of home and meet in the name of going for prayers. In this festive season, the youths are definitely enjoying the freedom to leave home for the evening prayers popularly known as “kesha”.
It is true that the younger generation comprises people with no vision, people who care less about their tomorrow and people who have lost hope in life. But just sitting back and watching is not improving the situation. As you make the New Year’s resolution have the youth in mind. You cannot save the whole generation but you can do something to save a few.