Crime is a flesh of fire.
An idle mind we are told is the devil’s anvil, where evil designs are forged, shaped and given life. And it gets worse if the idle mind belongs to a healthy, capable and intelligent youth. For in this youth, the devil finds an able and competent craftsman. There are few dangers to the society’s quiet enjoyment of life than those posed by capable youths with responsibilities but lacking opportunities. The challenges that the youth face are many, this is borne of the fact that it is at this stage whereby the preparation for the future takes shape and form. I have not conducted an “opinion poll” to ascertain the correlation between idle youth and an increase in crime and crime rate, I am not a sociology expert but my hypothesis is that for a disenfranchised youth with no hope of climbing up the social strata, no hope of ever accomplishing life’s’ dreams, an urge to resort to getting it by all means necessary is bound to overpower him/her. This is due to the fact that such a youth is likely to develop a fatalistic view of life, because he has nothing left to lose, death or imprisonment become better, at least a milder form of deprivation. But how are the youth to be prevented from becoming criminals? Is it through an efficient, expedient criminal justice system or through socio-economic improvement of the youth? My view is that the latter option is logical, cheaper, effective and overall viable in comparison with the former.
The society loses much when it fails to invest in the future by neglecting the youth. A youth who cannot acquire an education because of his/her economic station in life despite making attempts will only see the authority as an interloper. Education to this youth becomes a luxury, not a right. The youths at both their preparatory and prime time require guidance and resources socially, mentally, physically, financially and for their own management, spiritually. When any of these needs is neglected, there exists a gap which becomes a crucible for becoming a social deviant. Frustration sets in, their self-worth is questioned and the ideals which they have been brought up believing in become blurred images. A society which survives on class segregation is a society built on quicksand, its time is limited and in the fullness of time, it is ultimately bound to fail and fall. A youth denied education is more often than not bound to face a lot of challenges and struggles in this highly competitive and shrinking world. Knowledge has become the cornerstone of today’s’ age, he who lacks it is stymied. Our society has made education private and pseudo public with the attendant result that it is way above out of reach for the majority of Kenyans.
The Constituency Development Fund, The Constituency Bursary Fund do not allocate their grants based on merit but on the closeness of the applicant to the cabal of those in the office. As a consequence, many deserving applicants are left out from the allocation. Those who do not make the cut based on the inverted criteria feel that the society owes them something, justice. They become bitter with the society and go out to seek justice. Unfortunately, in pursuit of their justice, they are likely to resort to crime as a way of hitting back at the society which denied them their rights. Economic disparities are at an all time high in Kenya. The economic problems are not selective based on tribe, they are biting from Turkana to Malindi, Bondo to Othaya. Majority of the Kenyan youth cannot stand on their two feet economically but also can not rely on their families for economic empowerment. The government may cite incentives like the Youth Enterprise Fund which is an exclusive affair and the nonstarter Kazi Kwa Vijana Progaramme as being meant to placate the youth instead of uplifting their economic standards. But move around your community and chances are that you will be hit with an asteroid than see and hear a success story of the said programmes. The economy that is growing is the elitist economy, the telecoms industry, the information technology industry, the stock exchange but the mwanainchi economy is going down hill at a blitzering speed. This coupled with runaway inflation has visited on the youth untold suffering. The average family income is not increasing but is either stagnant, decreasing or in most instances non-existent. It is very sad and painful when young able men opt for the gun as a way of life simply because all other avenues are way out of reach while at the same time risking the lives of the people, the state agents and wrecking havoc on the business environment of the society. I believe that the government needs to come up with a credible policy and intervention that will be youth oriented with a view of creating an environment of fair and equal access to educational opportunities for those willing and qualified students, a condusive environment for small and medium enterprises, investment of resources towards real youth centers and sports facilities and above all, creation of a Constituency based mentoring programmes which will focus on the youth from an n early stage by advising on career options. Each constituency should be required to keep data on the employment statistics as opposed to the current trend whereby a member of parliament cannot even name the top five employers in the constituency or the unemployment rates. What constitutes a clear intervention to crime is subjective, but employment is one of the many ways of preventing crime.
Which way from here? How are the youth to extract themselves from this vicious circle of socio-economical and educational subjugation? The youth should not rest on their laurels but must take a pro-active and decisive role in the electoral process. The youth must avoid strident, polarized and mean politics which is the bane of some of the politicians. They must now stand and act to be counted. I am strongly convinced that it is by the entering into a binding and irrevocable contract with the leaders who have shown that they have the interests of the people including the youth at heart. These leaders must give an undertaking that they will honour the terms of the contract which they will enter into with the youth upon attaining their political ends. In fulfillment of their covenants, the youth will direct their utmost energies in rooting for those candidates who are pro people, committing their time, energy and persuasion skills and finally, doing the ultimate deed, voting for those leaders.