Supporting the Youth in Kenya
By Onsongo Matura
They say “Charity begins at home”- “Ukarimu huanzia nyumbani.”.
In Kenya, all is fine- Kenya hakuna matata (in Swahili)
In the spirit of Harambee, United We Thrive. Kwa moyo wa Harambee, sote kwa Pamoja Tutashinda. This is in Swahili language-the official language spoken in Obamaland- Kenya, where the father of the first black American President Barack Obama hailed from.
Soon after attaining her independence from Britain, Kenya for a while, remained one of the most peaceful, prosperous and stable countries in the East African region. It used to be, Kenya hakuna matata. The spirit of Harambee (pulling or working together) was espoused by Jomo Kenyatta, the founding father and first president of the Kenyan Nation. This saw a number of self-help projects being initiated throughout the nation. The projects include schools, roads, and hospitals to mention but a few. Through the spirit of Harambee, most less privileged people in society benefitted in one way or another. It is through the same spirit of Harambee that many poor families managed to raise funds that enabled their young people to proceed abroad for further education. One such example is that of the late Obama, father of the first black American President Barack Obama. It is with the support from well-wishers, through the spirit of Harambee that he managed to travel abroad for studies. And this is how the story began. A son (who would be leader) was born. I mean Barack Obama. Kenya is a blessed country indeed. No wonder its capital city Nairobi has been mentioned in the Bible as “…and one of those cities will be called the “City in the Sun.” Nairobi is commonly referred to as Green City in the Sun.
Following President Kenyatta’s demise in 1978, the Harambee spirit continued for some time but the Harambee silently changed to Nyayo (footsteps) under the so called wise leadership of the second president of the republic, H.E. Daniel arap MOI.
President MOI said he was following in the footsteps of his predecessor, master and great teacher, the late president Jomo Kenyatta. This marked a turning point and a moment when corruption became rampant in this African nation.
It is interesting to note that majority of the youth in Kenya today were born during the Nyayo era. The so called “Nyayo children” became beneficiaries of the free primary school education that then became compulsory nationwide. They also received free milk (maziwa ya watoto wa Nyayo) that was supplied to them at school. It was an incentive and this saw most children going through primary school. Many years later, the same Nyayo children have gone through secondary school and university/colleges and gained relevant qualifications. Unfortunately most of them are still looking for employment (tarmacking as they call it). Unless one is well connected, they are likely to stay forever jobless.
With the vice of tribalism and nepotism coupled with corruption that has infiltrated every part of the society, most talented youths have found themselves unable to display their skills and now feel hopeless. I believe it is not only in Kenya where the youth are experiencing this problem, but also in several other countries in the African continent. What kind of support should we give our young people whom we expect to be leaders of days to come?
I believe, just like everybody else, the youth of today are the future generation. It is really important that young people are at the heart of the planning and direction of their future. Life is too complex nowadays and there is need to address the real challenges our young people face in our society today.
Our youth need to know where they are going, have the uncompromising desire to get there and be in possession of the required tools for move on. If we really care about the future generation, we need to act on behalf of our youth.
What contribution can we as individuals make today for the benefit of the future generation?
By working in partnership with various agencies, governmental/non-organisations and/or sponsors, it will promote positive views of young people. We need to elect leaders with a vision. Most of our leaders today are without vision and lack understanding. They are being driven by greed and have ignored the fact that all citizens deserve a decent life. It is time we had more young people in elective positions so that they can participate in determining the type of future society they want. They need to make the right choice.
Majority of Kenyans have invested so much in getting their children into education. They have sold valuable items including parcels of land to ensure that their kids get the key to a brighter future. But wapi? These children have gone through university/colleges and gained relevant qualifications but are still unable to get employment. What sort of Government charges so much school fees to get someone into education and in the end there are no jobs for them? Someone is to blame! Our leaders who are so corrupt and greedy? Or is it the youth who are lacking the relevant skills they require so as to become employable?
There are many young people out there who have hidden talents that have not yet been exposed. They have got skills and creativity that have not been utilised or displayed.There are many forms of talent and creativity. Also many kinds of achievement and they are all valuable.
We need to highlight our young peoples’ hidden talents and achievements and also the contributions they make to society.
We need to support them to get into training for some skill and also getting employment (paid or voluntary). We need to elect a government that has the interest of its youth at heart.
We the Kenyan youth need to join the global youth movement now. A movement that is committed to the equal opportunity policy in that the support we give to an individual is not influenced in any way by the person’s skin colour, race, sexuality, age, and sex. We believe people should be treated equally regardless of one’s race, ethnic origin, religion, age and sex.
This writer is a freelance writer and author of “Masumbuko Under The Sun.” For more information visit: [email protected]