By Charles Ochieng Program Officer-Youth and Gender
That the next general election will be on the second Tuesday of august 2020 is in no doubt and in deed taking a walk within and around our political discourse, one thing is clear: all key political players in the country are sharpening their political arsenals towards the date. As we prepare for the plebiscite next year, it is incumbent upon the young people of this wonderful country to keenly take cognizance of the fact that their continued discomfort with politics and political discourse in this country will not be treated kindly by the well-meaning Kenyan people.
The youthful constituency must as a matter of priority; engage in the politics of this nation since our politics are intertwined with the economy and the two cannot be separated for the success of the other and true to this, our former president the late Daniel Torotich Arap Moi plainly did put it and I quote ‘Siasa mbaya Maisha mbaya ‘which simply means Bad politic, bad life. The youth form a large proportion of our countries’ population and the latest data from the census 2019 by the National Bureau of Statistics [KNBS] puts it at 35.7 million, translating to 75.1% of the total population of which 68.9% live in rural areas. This is a serious constituency that any political player worth his/her salt will not want to wish away. A look at major troubles in most African countries, there has been a clear correlation between the vulnerability of young people to be used to cause violence and the likelihood of them being sustained in a better political process for a longer time and a good case study is in South Africa where young people were recruited to stir up a popular uprising against the apartheid regime and most of them lost their lives in the process during the Soweto massacre in 1976. Their effort yielded fruits years later when the country held its first democratic election in 1994. Although curtsey of their effort, there was independence, the optimism brought by the same, quickly faded away when the realization done on them that the jobs and good economy they were promised were not forthcoming, instead key decision affecting their lives were being decided without their inputs.
The South African’s case study must inform the Kenyan youth that they are a critical constituency to change their country towards a better political trajectory but must always have the courage to forcibly enter into the emerging political spaces within the reform movement, where they can assert themselves beyond the fringes of marginalization. Young people should not allow themselves for an invitation to the dinner table to celebrate when their inputs are not being considered as recipes used to make the dinner in the first place, rather they must assert themselves into the political spaces if need be by invasion rather than by invitation which sometimes carries with it an already worked out template.
As key political parties and players continue to conduct recruitment of membership towards the next general election, my urge to the young people is to register for these political parties not as just ordinary members but as key critical decision makers in the respective political parties they find themselves in. They should vie for key seats made available in the parties so as to make key and positive contributions in those parties. The young people must exhibit the power and energy in them my occupying key leadership position in political parties and in the words of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series – “Young people do not need magic to change the world, they carry all the power they need inside themselves already”
Writer can be reached on email at Charles@kutoka.or.ke