Social Activism in the 21st Century – By Billy Osogo

Simply defined, social activism is an intentional action with the goal of bringing about social change. Ergo, anyone who is fighting for change in society is an activist. From Malala Yousafzai fighting for education for girls in Pakistan; to Boniface Mwangi fighting for constitutionalism in Kenya; to Greta Thunberg fighting for immediate climate change mitigation.

In the digital era where the number of smartphone users worldwide is on the rise social activism has become a force to reckon with. Anyone armed with a smartphone can galvanize action by other citizens from anywhere in the world. Events in individual societies are increasingly capturing the attention of the world at lightning speed. The oceans and seas separating them notwithstanding.

#FreePalestine is the most recent illustration of social activism in the twenty-first century. The senseless killings of innocent children in Gaza have taken the world by storm.

The United Nations Secretary-General, in his remarks to Security Council, described the ongoing conflict as “utterly appalling”. He further said:

“The hostilities have already caused unconscionable death, immense suffering and damage to vital infrastructure. I am appalled by the increasingly large numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties, including many women and children, from Israeli strikes in Gaza.  I also deplore Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.”

Massive demonstrations have been held all across the globe demanding justice for Palestine. Protestors gathered in cities including Doha, Stuttgart, New York, Cape Town, and Paris. In Nairobi, Christians and Muslims alike staged protests in solidarity with Palestine.

With social media playing a more prominent role in access to information, political causes cut across the traditional silos of streets and sovereign boundaries. As Israel escalated its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the players of the beautiful game made their position known in the ongoing conflict. Football superstar Paul Pogba and his Manchester United teammate Amad Diallo held up a Palestinian flag following Manchester United’s final home game of the season.

 

Elsewhere, Leicester City players Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana showed support for Palestinians after winning the FA Cup final. In a video making rounds on social media, the two were seen holding the Palestinian flag.

This is not the first time the world is rallying behind the cessation of gross human rights violations and injustice. In the 1980s, anti-Apartheid protests across the world brought attention to the diabolical human rights violations manifested in the apartheid government. Although limited, President Regan would impose economic sanctions on the apartheid government following pressure from various lobby groups. The apartheid government would eventually fall and Mandela would take his rightful place as the first black President of South Africa.

In 2020, following the gruesome killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests were held across the world. 331 days later, Derek Chauvin, the office responsible, was found guilty by the Hennepin County Courthouse.

The United Nations Security Council must not wait for an Israel-Palestine version of the Sharpeville Massacre to act. Too many lives have been lost already.

In the immortal words of Dr. King:

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”

The writer is an active and concerned citizen.

Facebook: Billy Osogo

Twitter: @a_b_osogo

 

 

 

MILLENNIALS AND POLITICS – By June.

Politics, such a morbid topic, one that we love and hate both at the same time. Everything that happens in the world of politics affects every one of us whether we are active participants or not. A familiar phrase by the late President Daniel Moi was, ‘Siasa mbaya, maisha mbaya.’ We are witnessing this phrase come to play currently in this country.

Growing up in a Kenyan home meant that you knew what political party your family subscribes to and by default you subscribe to the same political party. For instance, A Luo family automatically subscribes to ODM and supports Raila, A Kalenjin automatically supports Jubilee and supports William Ruto. A Kikuyu subscribes to the Jubilee party and supports Uhuru Kenyatta. The list goes on and on. You can fill in the rest for yourself. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized all these prejudices do not serve to benefit anyone. To support a leader just because he comes from your tribe is doing an injustice to yourself because when we do, we end up with crappy leaders as we do now, we ALL suffer.

When prices of local items go up, there is no section for a Kikuyu or a Jaluo. We ALL suffer. I understand that these prejudices are difficult to get rid of, we have all played a part in propagating so many of these prejudices in one way or another, I know I have, but it is never too late to change our ways because things are not looking so good.

Every day when I watch and listen to headlines in this country, I can’t help but feel hopeless for myself and other people as well. You see it is somehow justifiable when our parents support people based on their tribe because, at the end of the day, they have their lives made already. But even with that being said, it is still very important to participate in politics, know who your MCA, MP, Governor, and Senator is. For things to change, the system must change. It is another thing though when the younger generation do it {you and Me – Millennials}. It saddens me when people my age do it. Because in all honesty, this government has not in any way shown that it cares for the young people of this country. We are going into 8 years of this administration without any bleak hope towards the youth of this country.

If you have job hunted in this country {I know I have}, you know how difficult, frustrating and depressing this process is. Before you give me that desperately tired logic of, ‘Start a business, build your own table.’ I want you to ask yourself where this is coming from and what it takes to start a business; financially, emotionally, and mentally. I also find it extremely corny and disturbing that this statement is normally uttered by grown old folks who have held government and public service jobs their entire lives. How ironic, don’t you think? Why then haven’t you started a business? Since it seems like such a great piece of advice. Normalize questioning some of this unsolicited advice. To make it worse, the pandemic has heightened everything so even that job hunting process is becoming impossible. If you have a job, as some people do, you are struggling to keep it by all means possible, with ridiculous curfew hours that do not in any way make sense to the typical Kenyan mwananchi who is out looking for his/her daily bread. Let’s not even talk about the hiked fuel prices. How much more could citizens take? Hell, even an internship is difficult to come by.

Then there is the gibberish (yes I said it) that is BBI, should I go on? There is a lot that has gone wrong already and it is up to us, the young to say that ENOUGH is ENOUGH. The revolution cannot happen while some people are comfortable with the status quo.

Recently, there has been the issue of curfew enforcement whose enforcement has gone wrong. Privileged people came out to say how Kenyans should know better. To the privileged, why would you speak from your gated suburbs, in the comfort of your own home berating Kenyans whose only crime is wanting to go home? The problem I have with politics and leadership in this country is everything is about punishment, be it not having a huduma number, etc. The supposed remedy for everything is punishment.

Everything we are currently facing in this country ranging from the health sector, corruption, and creative industry fail is due to bad and poor leadership. You cannot fix the public health crisis by treating citizens like criminals. The hubris is made even more glaring when we add in the fact that the leaders are criminals.  YOU are the criminals. Fix the problem, not the people.

For the average middle class who constantly display their ignorance by thinking these injustices will never befall you.  Let me submit to you today the middle-aged citizen is one health crisis away from abject poverty. Not to wish anyone any downfall but it takes that ONE admission to the Kenyatta Hospital to realize that you were not as financially great as you thought you were. As long as the middle-class citizens can fuel their cars, pay for their apartments and watch Premier League and Netflix a revolution cannot happen.

It has also become clear as day that we will never be able to ‘Harambee’ ourselves out of bad governance, we can’t entrepreneur our way out of incompetent regimes, and we can’t ‘PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY our way out of a bad system. This country is BROKEN and it hurts ALL OF US.

I hope there comes a time in this country when we realize that:

  • The government is supposed to work for us.
  • Harsher conditions aren’t an indicator of a working government: If anything indicates signs of a dictator government which is a dangerous path to tread in.
  • Foreigners don’t deserve better treatment; that there’s a difference between hospitality and discrimination.
  • But also that punishment is not a mode of communication especially from the government to its citizens.

Let’s be part of national conversations, social media is an amazing place to participate in national conversations. Let’s not wait for another 5-year mess to realize our mistakes as millennials, as a people, and as a country. So… Now is not the time to say, “I don’t like politics,” because politics definitely likes you and it certainly affects you

 

To be silent is to be complacent, I don’t care what your excuse is. TO BE SILENT IS TO BE COMPLACENT.

 

Leadership has nothing to do with one’s tribe or race

The founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, while reflecting on the idea of leadership said that: “Leadership is more than just ability. It is a combination of courage, determination, commitment, character, and ability that makes people willing to follow a leader.”

A while back, utterances by President Uhuru Kenyatta, that Kenyans should allow other tribes to produce a president in the future as well ignited an intense public debate. While the President’s intentions may have been good, he didn’t comprehend one important factor in the context of transformative leadership in totality. In the sense that, it’s not about the tribe in which a leader hails from but his/her intentions and conviction towards leadership and the country’s effective governance.

Politicians employ ethnic divide and conquer as well as divide and rule to mislead the populace. This advances the attachment of one’s ethnic trait, background, allegiance, and association to political fortunes. As a result, it can thus be seen that politicians have mastered the art of manipulating social divisions in Kenya’s political setting as a tool to advance non-democratic political belief systems. Of which does more evil than good, especially now, that we are, a few months away to the general elections.

Today, almost after 60 years of political independence, Kenya’s aspirations and hopes remain largely unfulfilled. The major problem the country experiences is the absence of genuine leaders.  The good news is Kenyans have begun yearning for leaders who reflect their aspirations.

The desire to otherwise use ethnicity for individual political gain continues to undermine progressive politics that can translate to meaningful development in people’s lives. At this moment, an average Kenyan leads an appallingly difficult life that is worse in most ways than that of a fellow Kenyan led in the yesteryears. The lack of employment opportunities continues to overshadow most people today. Yet, by virtue of being in a leadership position like the presidency, one stands a better chance to change the lives of the electorate (s)/he represents. A leader can influence policies and tailor them to people’s short-term as well as long-term needs. The reason being as an elected leader you have the power and influence plus a better chance than any other ordinary citizen to bring about a much-needed change in society.

In every sense, democratic equality or democratic participation must correspond to economic equality. Elected leaders have for a long time demonstrated their inability to be innovative and create opportunities for the people to prosper. There is no greater freedom than economic liberty simply because a job gives one life and something to live for. This and other ills affecting the country Kenya is what should concern and occupy our politicians mind more than the succession politics that clearly adds no value to our welfare.

In my upcoming book on leadership and governance, I attempt to explore the interconnectedness and interrelationship between the contemporary idea of democracy, good leadership, and the societal vagrancies that are implicit and intertwined with these notions.

The eyes of visionary leaders are usually set on the horizon. Not ethnocentric sort of political agitations and/or affiliations. They work with the power of intentionality and with a higher purpose to endeavor to change people’s lives for the better so that prosperity can be found within our borders.

A towering example is former President Kibaki and the late Labor minister, Tom Mboya. Kibaki and Tom did their best in delivering true service to this country. People loved them irrespective of their tribes. Obama too had African roots but Americans believed in his ideas and capabilities. He was rewarded with the presidency. He did well. All these iconic individuals served their respective country’s well despite some challenges. They were intentional and true to themselves. And that is good leadership.

Transformational leaders should have the ability to cause a change in followers and social systems. Kenyan politicians must be reminded that leadership really entails having a sense of responsibility and a sense of ethical commitment to society and to those they lead. Similarly, they ought to recognize that one’s leadership is part of a greater whole, with the inherent responsibility of turning the country over to the next leader who will build on the past and achieve even more.

Michelle Obama while speaking to Young Africans Leadership Initiative (YALI) in 2015 noted: “Leadership is about creating new traditions that honor the dignity and humanity of every individual. Leadership is about empowering all of our people: men, women, boys, and girls to fulfill every bit of their God’s given potential”. For us to get our governance right there is an unequivocal need to make an overdue cultural shift on what has often been considered normal.

For Kenya to reap the benefits of good governance there is every need to invest in a committed, disciplined, innovative, accountable, and visionary leader irrespective of the tribe.

Tribal politics is no longer normal if we are to achieve good leadership hence good democratic accountability.

 

Antony Nkuubi is a Governance Expert and Obama Foundation Leader’s Fellow

Email: ankuubi@gmail.com

Youth Political Party – By Daniel Orogo

Kenyan political history places young people at the forefront of the socio-economic and political liberation struggle. During the struggle for Kenyan independence in the early ’60s, the youth were at the center as planners, mobilizers, and foot soldiers of the Movement for the liberation of Kenya against British Colonialist: the Mau Mau (youth), with an ambition of emancipating Kenya from the oppression and guarantee (Political) freedom. Similarly, the post-independent Kenya and clamor for multiple party democracy periods in the 1990’s documents active youth participation in form of political caucuses, street protests, and formation of political parties such as Forum for Restoration of Democracy Kenya( Ford- Kenya) amongst other political outfits piling pressure on Moi regime to amend section 2A of the Kenyan Constitution. First forward to the current constitutional change discourse (BBI) and the upcoming general elections in 2022, what can be the vision of the Ideal ‘Youth party of Kenya?’

Beyond Demographic advantage to policy orientation

The Kenyan Constitution defines the youth as a person of the age of above 18 years but below 35 years. This same demographic interestingly occupies 75% of the Kenyan population according to the Kenyan Housing and population Census of 2019. Beyond the larger demographic advantage; the youth are largely excluded and underrepresented in the political governance and decision-making structures of Kenya. Siasa Place observes that while some youth engage in political discourse, a significant proportion remains undecided on their political choices

Cure for Regional Ethnic Parties and Politics

The majority of the established political parties in Kenya are formed based on ethnic origin and regional composition. Ethnic balkanization and regionalism are reflected both in their leadership structure and membership base. Ideally, the formation of political parties in Kenya should reflect the diversity of the Kenyan population, what is commonly referred to as ‘the face of Kenya’ the reality is that most of the political parties in Kenya are ethnic-based. It then follows that during political elections, ethnic and regional balkanization becomes a priority not addressing issues. The casualties are the youth whose appeal to ascend to political leadership is based on values, qualities, and competence and not ethnic extraction. Additionally, Party manifestos do not reflect a lot of the agenda young people value the most. In a way, the established parties are too hung up on their ways, too focused on tax and GDP discussions, etc. While political opinions of the youth vary a lot, so do the opinions across age in these established parties. Furthermore, as one grows up, the personal weighting on political issues changes, so that in some cases one would support one party in your twenties, another in your thirties, and another in sixties.

The Vision

I propose the formation of a ‘ Political youth party’ as sort of an orientation party for young people who want to take an active role in governance. Unlike the already existing parties, the youth party would work towards generating a unifying political manifesto based on the values and interests of the youth in Kenya. This way, political matters that concern young people would be brought to parliament and young people get a chance to learn how political systems in Kenya work. The Youth Political party of Kenya would be a catalog fundamentally to redeem the image of youth in Kenya from being referred to as a troubled constituency to that of motivated peacebuilders and ambassadors of a better fresh alternative leadership in Kenya.

 

 

Bio

My name is Daniel Orogo, am an analyst in Political and Governance issues in Kenya and Program Director at Uwazi Consortium. A political aspirant in Kibra.

 

Extrovert Depression

Extroverts are known to be inviting, easy to agree with, and very confident in social circles. Simply put, anyone referred to as the life of the party, is an extrovert. It is harder for others to see an extrovert as anything more than that. Remember the story of Cinderella? Everybody loved her in a glass slipper and they could hardly imagine that she was the same girl that was locked in the house on the night of the ball. Moral of the story? Just because someone is happy, outgoing, sociable, warm, and gorgeous does not mean that they do not suffer from depression.

The way introverts experience depression is different from the way extroverts suffer depression. Depression in extroverts goes against the norms of depression. Extroverts enjoy being around people because they draw their energy from others. Normally depressed people don’t like being around people. An extrovert finds it hard to be happy on their own and depends on the presence of others to be happy. They have a lot of energy and will always be loud and active to retain the presence of others. This will lead to a lot of fatigue.

A depressed extrovert feels that they are not allowed to be depressed because it is their role to fix things. Rarely will people ask them how they are doing because people assume that extroverts have no real problems? This is because extroverts always seem happy, composed and their life is figured out. Some extroverts cry themselves to sleep because they feel no one understands how lonely they are.  After all, it is draining to be the life of the party. When left alone, the thoughts of an extrovert seem so foreign and uncertain to them.

Extroverts are very expressive. But when depressed, they lose the energy to express themselves.  When depressed, extroverts feel that whatever they say is diminished and brushed off because naturally, people expect them to always be happy. As a result, extroverts are not taken seriously. People do not believe that extroverts also struggle.

Most extroverts have the constant need to be there for everyone but themselves. Or rather continuously solve everyone’s problems but their own that it has become their lifestyle. When extroverts are depressed, they are too ashamed to tell others that they need a break because their depression is serious, and even if they do joke around, they sometimes can’t get out of bed because their depression is impairing. They are embarrassed to admit they look tired because they have spent all night crying — for no reason — and confused as to why they were crying and didn’t get any sleep. The fact that extroverts cannot help others fix their problems makes it worse for them because then they are out of their element. It also makes extroverts notice their problems through magnifying lenses. This may result in anxiety, hopelessness, and a debilitating sense of self-esteem and worth.

You know how people always say, “He was so happy, and how did he end his life just like that?” “He was always there for everyone and looked like he had everything in control. What happened to him?” “How could such a happy, dedicated, enthusiastic person end his life?”  They do not realize the struggle the extroverts were having inside. Depression in extroverts isn’t about being happy or being sad. It can’t be rationalized like that; it is more than that. This makes suicide cases in extroverts rather complex.

 

Article was written by Elizabeth Taabu

Email: taabu.elizabeth8@gmail.com

Social Activism in the 21st Century – By Billy Osogo.

Simply defined, social activism is an intentional action with the goal of bringing about social change. Ergo, anyone who is fighting for change in society is an activist. From Malala Yousafzai fighting for education for girls in Pakistan; to Boniface Mwangi fighting for constitutionalism in Kenya; to Greta Thunberg fighting for immediate climate change mitigation.

In the digital era where the number of smartphone users worldwide is on the rise social activism has become a force to reckon with. Anyone armed with a smartphone can galvanize action by other citizens from anywhere in the world. Events in individual societies are increasingly capturing the attention of the world at lightning speed. The oceans and seas separating them notwithstanding.

#FreePalestine is the most recent illustration of social activism in the twenty-first century. The senseless killings of innocent children in Gaza have taken the world by storm.

The United Nations Secretary-General, in his remarks to Security Council, described the ongoing conflict as “utterly appalling”. He further said:

“The hostilities have already caused unconscionable death, immense suffering and damage to vital infrastructure. I am appalled by the increasingly large numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties, including many women and children, from Israeli strikes in Gaza.  I also deplore Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza.”

Massive demonstrations have been held all across the globe demanding justice for Palestine. Protestors gathered in cities including Doha, Stuttgart, New York, Cape Town, and Paris. In Nairobi, Christians and Muslims alike staged protests in solidarity with Palestine.

With social media playing a more prominent role in access to information, political causes cut across the traditional silos of streets and sovereign boundaries. As Israel escalated its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip, the players of the beautiful game made their position known in the ongoing conflict. Football superstar Paul Pogba and his Manchester United teammate Amad Diallo held up a Palestinian flag following Manchester United’s final home game of the season.

 

Elsewhere, Leicester City players Hamza Choudhury and Wesley Fofana showed support for Palestinians after winning the FA Cup final. In a video making rounds on social media, the two were seen holding the Palestinian flag.

This is not the first time the world is rallying behind the cessation of gross human rights violations and injustice. In the 1980s, anti-Apartheid protests across the world brought attention to the diabolical human rights violations manifested in the apartheid government. Although limited, President Regan would impose economic sanctions on the apartheid government following pressure from various lobby groups. The apartheid government would eventually fall and Mandela would take his rightful place as the first black President of South Africa.

In 2020, following the gruesome killing of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter protests were held across the world. 331 days later, Derek Chauvin, the office responsible, was found guilty by the Hennepin County Courthouse.

The United Nations Security Council must not wait for an Israel-Palestine version of the Sharpeville Massacre to act. Too many lives have been lost already.

In the immortal words of Dr. King:

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge, moments of great crisis and controversy.”

The writer is an active and concerned citizen.

Facebook: Billy Osogo

Twitter: @a_b_osogo

 

 

 

SURGE OF MENTAL HEALTH ILLNESS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC- By Mercy Kamau.

It is said that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. The Constitution of Kenya 2010, in Article 43 provides that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to healthcare services. According to the Mental Health Policy 2015-2030, mental health services are widely underfunded especially in developing countries. Kenya is among the 28 percent of WHO member state countries that do not have a separate budget for mental health.

Depression, which is a mental health condition, has been one of the major causes of death globally. According to the World Health Organization’s report of 2014, Kenya was ranked at the fourth position in Africa with 1.9 million people having the mentioned condition. Mental health awareness has been rising especially after the emergence of Covid 19.

When the Ministry of Health announced the first coronavirus case, rampant changes took place in the country and globally. Adjusting to such changes would be tough for the common mwananchi who is used to waking up, getting himself together to face the challenges of hustling and tarmacking so that he can get something on the table at the end of the day. The borders closing, county lockdowns, and curfews being enforced led to an immediate change in how people would continue to live. It was traumatizing!

Loss of jobs has led to mental health issues: Imagine having to wake up in the morning, only to stay locked in your house doing nothing and expecting no income to flow, yet there are bills to be paid and dependents looking up to you for support. Most people, especially those from the cities suffered a lot. With some having to find means to go back to the village to find solace.

Taking a loan is very easy; in fact, the process is easy like singing ABC. During the pandemic, a lot of Kenyans took loans from banks and other lending platforms. According to a report by a local newspaper printed on January 29, 2021, borrowers defaulted Ksh 73 billion during the pandemic.

Marriages faced a lot of difficulty during the pandemic. Young couples get into marriage with wild anticipation not knowing what awaits. Most of the young people have not mastered the skills and what it takes to maneuver and thrive in a marriage. When the marriage fails, this becomes a turn-off for young people especially men who feel drained and taken for granted. Since men are viewed as the ‘lions of the jungle’, they fail to share their battles with other people because they feel that they will be judged as weak. So, they opt to keep everything to themselves and slowly the wounds get swollen, painful, and unbearable, that is when the young men get into substance abuse and later on into mental health conditions like depression, and to some extent, some end up committing suicide!

Dealing with socio-economic changes can lead to mental health problems. The condition is treatable when the right channels are involved at the right time. Creating awareness can be of great significance in ensuring that we curb mental health illnesses because stigma has been prevalent in our society hence advocating for the engagement of the right personnel for treatment and counseling can be of great significance.

The Government of Kenya in partnership with the World Health Organization can as well come up with amicable solutions that will help solve these cases. This can be done by ensuring that there is a separate allocation for mental healthcare services.

Article By Mercy Wairimu a Linguistics, Media Studies and Communication and a passionate Writer

Twitter @Mwairimu7

THE TROUBLED YOUNG LEADER – By Gravice Luvuga

 

‘Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and honorable members of the house for this golden opportunity to officially release this year’s budget. This coming year the government has looked deeper into the youth issues and therefore allocated an amount of twenty billion Kenyan shillings to support youth leadership and programs.’ This is the song that has been ringing in our years for centuries ever since our independence.

Billions and billions being allocated to support the youth growth to give them a platform to develop and mature in terms of leadership and responsible behaviors and all we get is wasted smart minds on the streets and flooding online spaces looking for who and where to obtain a coin at least to sustain themselves and get the energy to live and to hustle another day. All because the so-called people, our fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts who are supposed to hold our hands squandered the funds.

Ohh poor young and intelligent young African leader with enough integrity and education to help govern our everyday harshly driven mother country. So smart that at a young age you had so many eyes looking your way. So brave to defend what you believed to be right, enough courage to say the truth as it is without calling a spade a big spoon. You were so smart that those that believed to be your elders started shaking in fear, afraid of being challenged by a young man fresh from the books. So intelligent that they had to take you out in broad daylight. May your soul continue dancing with the angels’ Tom Mboya.

What is the importance of giving us advice, issuing us bursaries to learn and be educated? Encouraging us to be leaders with our own principles, feeding us with uncountable long speeches in the name of motivation on how we should be the next leaders. Grooming us into politics by making us hang on your campaign trails to encourage our fellow youths you are the one. Then when we finally start standing up on our principles by going an extra mile of correcting some misleading principles you get back to us, trying to intimidate and make us follow your path and never challenge you. Young leaders have been influenced to a point of leaving their own principles and following the people who have promised them success. What is the point of claiming we are leaders when we can’t speak out and stand on our own without being intimidated?

We organize youth leadership forums and events but know the intention is not to help us grow but the allowances and privileges that come with it. When will the real voice and real young leaders stand out if not given an opportunity, nurtured, given ground to grow and mature in terms of leadership? Sorry I almost forgot, is it because we are untrusted, once a very vibrant African leader came out clearly to defend the elderly that are holding offices even in youth organizations, claiming that it’s rather to have a trustworthy old man in an office than a corrupt young man. Several years down the line even after defending the old man the country’s corruption rate is growing even higher. Did I miss something? Did the old man mysteriously become young?

I know any youth will be gladly nodding at the above piece of sense, but let’s not forget you cannot be recognized if you do not stand out. Not only does charity begin at home but also leadership does. Let’s stand up for what we feel is wrong. If you believe you have the power to lead and make a change, go for it. Let the world know that youth can make good and even better leaders. Let’s stand out to be noticed.

Heads up for all the young institution leaders, young union leaders, all those young leaders out there who are effortlessly fighting for the good of others. All those young leaders who are determined to go all the way up, those who don’t cover evil, all those who would give their lives to stand for the weak and lead towards not just the right direction but towards light because at the end of the tunnel there is surely light.

 

Article by graviceluvuga@gmail.com

Youth Participation in Governance – By Christopher Mokaya

 

It has often been said that if the youth are not on the table, then they are on the menu. This dictum has elicited mixed reactions from both the youth and older members of our society. In matters of governance and politics, the youth have always been in motion from the frying pan to the fire!

Is it not still vivid in our collective minds as citizens of Kenya how the political class has always abused the kindness of the youth who come out in their numbers to support various political causes? Most of the victims of police brutality during post-election chaos are always the youth. Rights organizations have done little to arrest this situation. This is why the youth in Mathare, Kibera, Dandora, and other informal settlements always live in apprehension especially during the electioneering period.

Is there a way in which the situation can find a remedy? Can the youth of Kenya and Africa meaningfully participate in governance and politics? Do they really have what it takes to participate in this game of thrones?

Well, as a young person who has witnessed first-hand the challenges of youth participation in governance, I must admit that it is not a walk in the park. The youth must be willing and ready to sacrifice their comfort, time, and resources to meaningfully and successfully participate in politics and governance at the county level and at the national level.

Martin Luther King Jr aptly sums up what it takes: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”

I believe when the youth step out of their comfort zones and stake a legitimate claim on the governance of their nation, change begins to happen. It is this change that is desired by the society that looks up to young people to offer fresh ideas and spark innovation to transform the nation.

The youth also need to find inspiration from history. In Burkina Faso, a young revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara fought for participatory democracy, justice, anti-corruption, and the liberation of Africa (Harsch, 2013).  Sankara believed in the ability of Burkinabés to develop their country, modernize it and build a strong economy. He succeeded in becoming the president of his nation. Personally, I believe I can be the “Sankara” of Kenya and I have already taken the very first steps towards seeking support as the next president of our nation.

There is so much hope for youth participation in governance. This hope lies in the need for the youth of Kenya and Africa at large to start where they are, to do what they can with what they have as Theodore Roosevelt asserted. Time is ripe for youth participation in governance.

The article was written by Christopher Alvin Mokaya a selfless servant leader, currently an aspirant for President of Kenya 2022. He serves as the Deputy East Africa Regional Associate for Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development (YALDA).

Twitter: @PresidentMokaya

Positives of Youth Engagement in Governance – By Elizabeth Mueni.

The United Nations uses the term youth to refer to people between the age of 18-35 years. This definition does not however apply to all the states. According to the United Nations, 25% of the total population in Kenya is made up of the youth. The survey also shows that 7.24% of that population is made up of unemployed youth. It has been noted that the participation of youth in governance has been picking up in recent years and especially after the occurrence of devolved governance. The Kenyan youth have been active recently in government rallies, political seats, and even ministerial positions. But just how have the youth been involved?

According to Social Media Lab, 40% of social media users in Kenya are youth aged between 18 years to about 35 years. This clearly shows that the youth are the highest social media users. The government has recently brought almost all of their activities online and this has given the youth the opportunity to interact with government projects online, participate by giving their opinions, and criticizing the government. The youth can use the social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to air their opinions on ongoing government projects. The media houses also engage the youth in order to get their opinion on government through social media.

Additionally, in 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta held a workshop for the Youth through the Kenya ni Mimi initiative. The forum was meant to inspire the Youth and enable them to be drivers of their own agenda and to seek leadership positions at all levels. The President demonstrated youth leadership when he appointed Nadia Ahmed who is 28 years old to the Ministry of ICT and Youth Affairs. The World Bank has been working with Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet county governments to design a platform in which Kenyan youth will be engaged. The workshop opens a dialogue between the government and the youth to interact and share ideas on leadership. These workshops are necessary for the participation of youth in government.

According to the 2010 constitution, the state shall take measures including affirmative action programs to ensure that the youth receive education, have the ability to associate and interact and have the opportunity to be represented socially, economically, and politically. The youth should be given access to employment and should be protected against all harm. The constitution calls for youth representation and in devolved government, at least one person is appointed to represent the youth.

The last general election was characterized by a huge number of young people who participated in the election either by voting or contesting for a position. The 12th parliament has a high number of young Kenyans for example, Paul Ongili of Embakasi East and Charles Kanyi of Starehe. In the upper house, we have Johnson Sakaja of Nairobi county and Anwar Loitiptip of Lamu, just to mention a few. The higher learning institutions in Kenya also give the youth an opportunity to contest for different leadership positions and portray their leadership skills. Kenya has seen University chairperson contests in national elections and this clearly shows the large milestones youth leadership in Kenya has taken. The government has also boosted the performance of youth contestants in leadership by appointing them to head different sections and programs in government.

There are thousands of youth in different sectors in the country and even internationally. The youth have taken the leadership response positively and they are making huge strides in order to achieve more. The constitution acknowledges the youth as of good reasoning and decision making and they should be given an opportunity to showcase their skills to the public through leadership.

 

COVID Effects on the Mwanachi- By Ben Katibi

The country is battling the third and most deadly Covid-19 wave since its first case was confirmed on 13th March 2020. The Ministry of Health is reporting new strains of the virus: the South African and UK strains which appear to be highly contagious and virulent. There is a surge in the number of cases requiring hospitalization. Health facilities are on the verge of being overwhelmed and whispers from the wards tell of a situation so dire, a volcano ready to erupt. Media reports telling of a scramble for ICU beds fully occupied, with many in the waiting queue having made advanced bookings for the beds. The country is also reporting daily double-digit fatalities.

In the wake of prevailing circumstances, the government through a presidential directive of March 26, 2021, imposed a lockdown on the 5 counties of Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Machakos, and Kajiado. Zoned as one area, movement into and out the five counties was suspended and curfew hours extended from 8 pm – 4 am. Social, political, and religious gatherings were also suspended. The five counties had been singled out as hotspots for the virus hence the tougher restriction measures.

Just when the wheels of economic recovery had begun to slowly gain momentum, the directives brought them to a screeching halt. The year 2021, had been touted by the president as the year of revival, a time when the country was expected to shake off the negative effects Covid-19 had brought on the economy. The economy was projected to grow between 5% – 7% following a slowdown in 2020 occasioned by the effects of Covid-19. The new directives are a big stab on the back of an already ailing and frail economy. More so spelling doom and dark days ahead for the millions of Kenyans whose jobs were already at stake.

Close to 1.7 million jobs were lost during the first lockdown as a result of many businesses closing down and some cutting down on their workforce to remain afloat. The onset of the second lockdown hit many of those that had survived the first lockdown onslaught. Another wave of job losses striking home. The worst-hit being the hospitality, tourism, transport, and entertainment industries. With millions directly and indirectly employed in these sectors, a bleak future is staring into their eyes.

There was a public outcry on the new measures. Many questioned the timing and intent of the directives as not being Pro-mwananchi. Directives were seen by many as being discriminative to millions of Wanjiku who live from hand to mouth. A people that felt overburdened by the high taxes and the rising cost of living. Was the president misadvised to lock down the country again? Was a second lockdown necessary? Is the president unaware of the suffering and rising cost of living in the country? These are some of the hard questions in the minds of Kenyans who feel let down by a president whose government is associated with unfulfilled promises, heavy borrowing, high taxation, and untamed corruption.

In as much as the new directives in place are meant to curb the spread of the virus, the plight of Wanjiku brought about by the rising cost of living cannot be ignored. Many risks slipping into poverty if sound and timely economic recovery policies are not put in place to cushion the Mwananchi. World over, it is the business of the government to take care of its citizenry. Countries like Germany have taken steps to help businesses avoid layoffs. The US Congress on the other hand passed a mega stimulus bill that avails billions of dollars to expand the unemployment insurance as well as providing cash handouts to low and middle-income earners to help them make ends meet. The bill also allocates 350 billion dollars in loans for businesses with less than 500 employees.

The government should also follow suit. The much-hyped 3-year Post-covid socio-economic recovery strategy launched by the President funded to a tune of 132 billion shillings is yet to be felt by Wanjiku. The recovery plan was initiated to spur growth by pumping funds into critical sectors like agriculture, tourism, SMEs’, housing, infrastructure, and manufacturing. SMEs are a major target because of the role they play in creating millions of informal jobs. It is whispered in hushed tones of the good policies in the paper that are non-existent on the ground. Good policy papers that become cash cows for a few bureaucrats.

The mwananchi is suffering and it’s time the government reassesses some of the directives in place. Either provide for the mwananchi or open up the country and let Wanjiku work. There is no logic in locking down the country and not carrying out mass testing or mass vaccinations to achieve herd immunity. If the government decides to settle on the latter of opening up the country, then Wanjiku should strictly adhere to the laid down regulations by MOH of washing hands regularly with soap and water, social distancing, and proper wearing of face masks. It is our health and lives on the line. Stay safe.

The article was written by Ben Katibi a purchasing and supplies management graduate passionate about writing with a keen eye on politics and emerging issues in the country. Follow Ben on Facebook – Benedict Katibi and Twitter – @oure_katibi

 

Plans to Revive Tourism Industry Underway – By Nancy Odindo

The resurgence of COVID-19 cases following the discovery of a new variant has delivered another disappointing blow to the tourism industry following the second wave of lockdowns and border closures.

The tourism industry rose to the forefront of the global agenda in 2020, due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 across the globe with countries taking decisive actions to protect their citizens and halting international travel.

However, the recovery of that hard-hit industry that left many jobless and in poverty is believed to be driven by technology and innovation though expected to belong, uneven and slow.

According to the World Economic Forum, the pandemic resulted in a 74% decline in international visitor arrivals, equivalent to over $1 trillion in revenue losses and an estimated 62 million fewer jobs as well as claiming nearly 2.9 million lives since the outbreak in 2019.

This has presented a hard challenge of reopening borders to resume travel and commerce to countries while protecting their populations’ health.

“Every country on earth had implemented some travel restriction, signaling the magnitude of the operation to restart travel,” reported the World Tourism Organization, UNWTO, in April last year.

With the second wave of lockdowns, border closures, and the rollout of vaccination programs, the World Economic Forum report states that the World ‘will not see a significant rebound in international travel until the middle of this year at best’.

According to a study on managing overcrowding, the top 20 most popular global destinations were predicted to add more international arrivals than the rest of the world combined by 2020.

“While COVID-19 will have disrupted this trend, it is well known that consumers want to travel again, and we must address the issues associated with overcrowding, especially in nascent destinations, like Saudi Arabia,” stated the report.

“Tourism has the potential to be an engine of economic recovery provided we work collaboratively to adopt a common approach to a safe and secure reopening process and conversations on this are already underway,” added the report.

Through the G20, which Saudi Arabia hosted in 2020, discussions focused on how to leverage technology and innovation in response to the crisis, as well as how to restore traveler confidence and improve the passenger experience in the future.

At the global level, across the public and private sectors, the World Economic Forum is working with the Commons Project on the Common Pass Framework, which will allow individuals to access lab results and vaccination records, and consent to having that information used to validate their COVID status.

International Air Transport Association, IATA,  is trialing the Travel Pass with airlines and governments, which seeks to be a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 travel requirements.

The provision of solutions that minimize person-to-person contact responds to consumer wants, with IATA finding that 85% of travelers would feel safer with touchless processing.

With the growing hopes towards reviving the tourism industry, the World Economic Forum believes that the solutions will be critical in opening the borders in a way that is safe, seamless, and secure while giving tourists the confidence to travel again.

As the report states, the availability of vaccines will also make the entire process easier and doable.

However, the forum will have the mandate to ensure processes and protocols are aligned globally, and that they support countries with limited access to vaccinations to eliminate the threat of another resurgence.

“It is only when businesses and travelers have confidence in the systems that the sector will flourish again,” said the report.

The report further said that the approach taken by Saudi Arabia to establish consensus and to build collaborative relationships internationally and between the public and private sectors should serve as a model to other countries in order to maximize the tourism’s sectors contribution to the global economic recovery.

“The approach was taken by Saudi Arabia and its partners to establish consensus and build collaborative relationships internationally and between the public and private sectors, should serve as a model to be replicated so that we can maximize the tourism sector’s contribution to the global economic recovery while ensuring that it becomes a driver of prosperity and social progress again,” urged the report.

 

Article Written By Nancy Odindo; Email: nancyodindo@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Siasa Place is an NGO formed 2015 that aims to create an enabling environment for women and youth mainstreaming into our body politics.

Mailing form

    Our Contacts

    Development House, 8th Floor
    Moi Avenue,Nairobi

    +254-757-840552

    www.siasaplace.com/