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).