By Daisy Okoti
Published June 18, 2012
Although the constitution of Kenya that came into force on August 27, 2010 provides affirmative action for the youth of the country, this generation aged 15-30 years is unlikely to benefit from the supreme law of the land without a new focus. Their call to their elders to give them a chance will always remain hollow without that focus shift.
“Most young people I know don’t care about politics (just check out their ‘political view’ on facebook or any social media),” says Ogova Ondego who specialises in youth issues. “This is the most serious mistake of their lives. It’s Politics that shapes their future: technology, music, cellphones, education, jobs, love, families.”
Several initiatives have been set up to equip the youth with requisite skills to take up national leadership positions. One such initiative is the National Youth Policy which endeavours to give the youth equal opportunities to in realising their full human potential in economic, social, political, cultural and religious spheres. The ‘Youth Agenda’ forum aired on NTV of Nairobi and USAid’s ‘Yes Youth Can’ have similar aims for the youth.
But the questions begging answers are many. Do the youth have what it takes to manage the nation’s affairs? Have the youth learnt anything from the failings of their elders who they want to pave the way for them? Have the youth picked any good qualities from these elders?
The youth in Kenya fall below the average mark when the seriousness with which they handle their own affairs is placed on a scale of 1-10. For a majority, their academic work is not a priority. One only needs to overhear the phone conversations of some of them to verify this. Having their hair done at the saloon is of utmost importance followed by two other things on the list before their class work. For those in college or university, skipping lectures is not a big issue, and some can even sit through a lecture with earphones on. There is only one result of this and it is lack of preparedness for exams, which results in many of them cheating.
With this type of education, is it possible for the youth to even understand their role in society, talk less of being leaders? Is it any wonder then that university graduates are not being taken seriously in the Kenyan job market today? And if employers cannot trust the youth with jobs in their companies, is there a possibility that these same employers who make up part of the nation will trust these same youth with the important task of running of the nation?
Another ill among the youth is overindulgent lifestyles. Drinking alcohol for a whole night in the name of a birthday party is not something new in Kenya and again, the youths are the culprits.
Excessive alcohol consumption automatically knocks you out of control of your own life and when you are not in control of your own life as a leader, then what happens to the country whose affairs you are supposed to be running? Does the whole nation stop working because the leader who is a youth is recovering from a hung-over? Leadership skills should manifest themselves at all stages of life.
The understanding of the country and what is taking place in it is limited for most youth. With lack of such vital information, some of them have to depend on hearsay or rumours. The level of ignorance among the youth in Kenya today is alarming and it is only after the eradication of such ignorance that we can begin talking about the youth as leaders of this country. One of the ways of eradicating this ignorance is through having the youth read the constitution which unfortunately, is too big and boring a book to hold the attention of the youth for more than a short time.
Is it possible to lead a country you do not understand? Or work under a constitution you have not read and understood?
Cases of university students engaging in vice–prostitution and various forms of crime in order to get extra money for their additional expenses are on the rise in Kenya. The infamous Koinange Street of Nairobi which is known as the assembly ground for prostitutes is said to have a very big number of students during the dark hours peddling their flesh. Add to this the ever rising number of students seeking ‘solace’ in the arms of moneyed politicians and other top officials in the country and there is no argument of the fact that there is moral rot in the society and the youth need to clean themselves first from it before they can think of leading anyone.