It’s no longer in question that word youth has become such a lucrative business opportunity for some state and non-state actors. The only tragedy is that humongous profits extracted from this group seldom trickle down to the largest (76 percent) demographic in Kenya.
Career youth activists
Aesthetically appealing reports about the youth are launched every single day by career youth activists yet their state remains the same – vulnerable, deprived, oppressed, pauperized and exploited.
For a section of career youth ‘activists’, business is booming as they take lucrative positions both in government and in the ranks of development partners using ‘youth’ as a bargaining tool. They may confess their love for youth but their hearts are far away from them.
You will always see the same faces representing youth; some for decades, making you wonder whether they started working while they were still in their mother’s wombs.
Enough is enough. We cannot continue to use the young people of Kenya as doormats. Apart from using them as a springboard to a better life, the jobs we are willing to give them are low paying unskilled work considered for those who are the scum of the earth.
While the political class are willing to invite them to run campaigns and deliver votes through their creative ideas, after delivering the promise, they are reminded where they belong. They are swiftly handed slashers, bullets through extrajudicial killings, menial jobs such as clearing sewage as the lucrative deals go to the usual well connected, privileged youths.
International youth week
As the world celebrates international youth week, the youth of this country have often rushed to the bank to cash bad cheques issued by a scavenging political class and career youth activists.
54 years after independence, young people in this country are only reminded how useful they are when their votes are needed. As the political class ditch their traditional often oversized suits for jeans, t-shirts and sneakers and switch their charm offensive gears, youth are briefly reminded just how important they are. Politicians are forced to visit the ‘hood’ albeit in choppers and fleets of state of the art bulletproof cars, leaving a trail of dust in their wake. Yet when votes are counted and the last winner declared, youth are packed in abandoned rooms just like ballot boxes waiting for the next election cycle.
54 years after independence, youth who make up 76 percent of the country’s population is not found in the top echelons of leadership in Kenya. Not because they are unqualified, tragedy is that appointments in this country follow the old tired, tasteless and offensive patronage linkages.
The government must walk the talk in putting youth at the centre of the development agenda. An agenda that will reduce inequality, vulnerability, increase alternatives, dignify people, decrease poverty and increase living wages for young people.
The big four, though functions of devolved units hijacked by the national government should be implemented in a strict adherence to the constitution and in a sustainable manner that will not further enrich the top one percent at the expense of everybody else.
Building bridges initiative (BBI) needs to stop being about political survival of an oligarchy that has sucked the soul of the country and impoverished everybody else except their families. Youth whom the old ruling class has borrowed the country from and often bear the brunt of political violence should be at the centre of implementing the BBI agenda.
The youth of Kenya should organize and demand the audit of debt register so that these loans (some odious) that are being copiously consumed from China will not choke them and are stopped on their tracks.
Tragedy of youth
The only outrage in Kenya among youth is that there is no outrage. While we are on our own, we have allowed ourselves to be divided along ethnic lines. Those who benefit from this division is a small clique of ethnic barons and their families while the rest of us are left hungry.
The clarion call to the youth of Kenya is to organize early preferably around a new vibrant political ideology. For us to take the whole cake from the ruling class, we must reject the bowl of soup we have often accepted of squatting in personality-driven, ethnic formations in place of our birthright.
31 years old youthful field marshal Dedan Kimathi did not beg for space in the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA), he earned it.
It’s never too early to run or fight for the salvation of our country, which is evidently on the brink of a total collapse. Viva to the youths of Kenya as we rise up to deliver our country from the jaws of corruption, oligarchy, income inequality and police brutality.
@DannishOdongo is a journalist who is passionate about governance