, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 1-Joshua Munyao, a holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce (Accounting major) was among the first people to arrive at Uhuru Park on Wednesday for the Labour Day celebrations.
On this day, he decided to abandon hawking sweets in the densely populated Githurai and Kahawa Sukari estates, to join other Kenyans in marking this day.
He strategically positioned himself at the front row—the only thing that stood before him was the guard rail meant to keep the crowd 30 metres away from the main podium where dignitaries sat.
Munyao, who wore a black suit and a red tie, was armed with a bag and a banner.
“Please give me a job. Joshua Munyao. B.Com-Accounting,” his appeal was scripted in bold on the banner, for everyone to see- and hopefully, a potential employer.
When he spoke to Capital FM News, Munyao was pregnant with expectations since Labour Day being a National holiday, workers and employers interact ‘freely’.
“This is my day. I am optimistic someone will notice me and offer me a job,” a visibly excited Munyao said.
It did not perhaps, occur to him that the Federation of Kenya’s Employers had boycotted the event over Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) calls for a 15 per cent wage increment.
Munyao said he graduated in 2017 from Kenyatta University, and has been tarmacking for job that has remained elusive in a country where more than half are the youth, many of them jobless.
“I am a beacon of hope in my family, but I can only help them if I have a job,” the last born in a family of 7 said.
His family back in Kitui County has high hopes in him, he said.
“The spent every coin they had to educate me. I have to reciprocate this by taking care of them, more so my aging parents,” an eloquent Munyao said, with a firm tone.
“I have decided to put this banner on their faces so that someone can at least spot me.”
His previous attempts to look for a job hit a snag, was this day going to be different?
Speech after speech, Munyao stood in the scorching sun until the celebrations were over.
The nearest he was noticed by the dignitaries was when COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli partly spoke about youth unemployment, only for a section of the crowd to start shouting; “here is the unemployed youth.”
They were flashing their fingers pointing at him- but there was no immediate reaction from the dignitaries who were his target.
Like many workers who had hoped to get a 15 percent wage increase, Munyao walked out empty handed, dejected and disappointed.
As he carefully folded his banner and put it in his black bag, which had his Curriculum Vitae and education certificates, Munyao said, “there is still another day.”
The 26-year-old is just the face of a dire situation in the country, as millions of youths, the majority in a 45 million population grapple in unemployment.
Various research by both state and private organisations paint a gloomy reality, whereas a section of the unemployed lot have resorted to crime, drug abuse or both.
For example, a 2018 survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), revealed that seven million Kenyans are not employed- some 1.4 million are desperately looking for a job, while the rest have since thrown in the towel.
Kenyans living below Sh200 a day is currently at 36.1 per cent according to KNBS.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in a speech read on his behalf by Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani urged employers to work closely with the Government in a bid to address some of the pertinent issues Kenyan workers are facing.