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The Plea Of A Post Election Violence Survivor To Youth Voters

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Kenya is a blessed land, one of the most stable and prosperous nations in Africa. With a diverse and culture-rich population, it is a nation with great potential. However, as a nation we might have lost sight of the direction we should be taking. We are now a land ridden with corruption, tribalism, and petty politics and the leaders seem to be the flag bearers of this reality.

There isn’t much of a public discussion on matters affecting individuals and communities. Politicians dwell on petty politics engaging in mudslinging and character assassination of a political rival to gain an extra mile over the opponent.

The lowest point of this nation was the 2007-8 post-election violence. I was slightly over 10 years of age and I cannot forget how horrific that time was. I am from the Rift Valley where the clashes were a reality. The people we had grown to love as our friends were now being hunted. We had to share our house with over 10 people that we were rescuing which also placed a target on our backs. It was terrible watching this as kids and not understanding why this was happening. Whose needs were considered then if not the politicians’ selfish needs?

The incident brought our great nation to its knees. We have since had many challenges; ethnic struggle and economic turmoil being among the major ones. It is time to make changes and get the public the leaders they deserve.

With close to 8 months to the 2017 elections, do we really want to vote in the same old leaders that are leading us down the drain? Think of it this way, this nation is a football pitch and the politicians are merely players who after 90 minutes will have their exits and entrances. And we shall be the ones left cleaning up their mess. We need leaders that will revolutionize and impact Kenyan lives positively. And the only way we can achieve this is through political participation.

A casual observation of Kenya’s political terrain reveals the prevalence of poor leadership, perhaps it is time for the youth to take up leadership positions or be politically active in the least. That’s why increasing reluctance among the youth to engage in politics and exercise their right to vote is alarming. Our issues are issues that affect the whole community, both young and old. We are concerned about affordable housing, protection of the environment, job opportunities and living wages and affordable education. Therefore; we ought to take a greater responsibility.

If young people don’t vote, they and their distinct interests are more likely to be neglected by policy-makers. The youth in the past, have been manipulated to fight against each other over these leaders mostly along tribal lines. There’s a need to reconfigure this reality and the government needs to take this problem of youth participation seriously.

Most of the impressions I learned from the chat revealed that the youth, despite being pessimistic on the power of their vote, they were full of ideas and are eager to participate if conditions were to change. The collective hoped for honest, transparenct leaders.

Our role as the youth should not be to cause violence and disruptions. When it comes to politics, we can no longer be a part of the problem. Instead, we should be at the fore of politics having a say in how we are governed.

 

This article was written by Capital Campus Contributor Joy Kositany.

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