“With her clothes in rags, her body scarred and bruised and bleeding, her harp all but destroyed and with only one string left, she had the audacity to make music and praise God…. To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope… that’s the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt’s painting.” Rev. Jeremiah Wright, on GF Watts painting Hope.
The above statement precisely reflects the state the Kenyan youth finds him/her in today. Reality is, all is not well, and we face a grim spectre of financial apocalypse and societal woes. Cumbered with loads of the weight of problems most of them created by politicians and the government. Most Kenyan youths are now divided between those who hold on to hope, work hard, earn less and pay high taxes and those who choose the easy way out, live fast, die fast – by the gun or mob beating or colloquially mob justice. For those on the former spectrum, whose times Bruce Springsteen terms “….the future is rarely a tide rushing in, It’s often a slow march, inch by inch, day after long day..”, which I fall in, hope is the only string we have left in our quiver and it is this hope that we wage war with.
Hon. Peter Kenneth, member for Gatanga launched his presidential bid at the Kenyatta International Conference Center on 4th November, 2012 amidst glitz and glamour. His brilliance is striking. The former football administrator and currently one of the best managers for public monies is vying and basing his campaigns on ideas, policies and principles, not age, wealth, background or tribe. Despite his apparent gravitas, he faces a gargantuan task in the ruffle and fury of Kenyan politics given the fact that his fight is a fight of ideas and words, while most of his opponents have consecrated various forms of chauvinisms which is their driving force. His campaign promises to inject a doze of reason and intellect in Kenyan politics. I have been a keen student of Kenyan politics and recent political history, and to date, I am yet to see his name share a platform with sleaze and corruption as is the norm with Kenyan politicians, for this reason, I only have admiration for him and wish him well and a run of good fortune. Kenyans have grown weary and despondent in their politicians whose core beliefs are woven in the cluster of lies and corruption and are now looking for an agent of change and development. If PK can deliver, we will be much glad.
Most of those vying for various political offices acknowledge the power of the youth vote, in this regard they are on full-time pandering mode; they are all talking of standing on a youth platform. They all claim to be “wenzetu” with their third-rate plagiarized speeches while they try to hoodwink us. Uhuru has promised us heaven, Ruto has promised us the Promised Land, Jakom has promised us Nirvana despite the fact that some of them want to drive us into the abyss of hell. But can we trust them to settle their accounts? Where are their campaign blue prints? And even if they show them to us, what modalities exist for us to hold them accountable for their overtures? This is Kenya where subterfuge is the order of the day, and we demand signs. We have seen judges pronounced by a constitutional body as unfit to hold office only to our consternation see them sneak in through the crevices. The saddest thing is that the best they can advance to prove that they are for the youth agenda is mere rhetoric, devoid of actions, or attempts at acting. The crux of the matter is that these good people in actual sense are and have always been dismissive and derisive of youth development and empowerment, I would challenge them to show any steps they have taken in their time in leadership to support the youth cause.
Leadership must transcend age, and be more about policies. We want to see people – leaders – who are ready and willing to pay any price for the welfare of the people, so harping on the string of the “youth” is not bound to get anybody anywhere near the youth vote. We will vote for both the physical youth and ideological youth, not just youth in semblance. Take the good and gracious but absurd lady her youthful Kingwa Kamenchu, a typical study in contradiction. When former television heart throb and glamour girl Esther Arunga announced to run for a seat on the castle in the air Placenta Party, at least she was corrigible and appeared suave with certitude, not with Kamenchu, she is so vulgar. For while she wishes to lead this country, she is so naïve to spew words that divide not just opinion but sanity. She is breathing electoral hot air advising youths to go back to their roots, discard some civilization like putting on underpants everywhere (sounds like an Al Shabaab edict), anywhere and at all times. This lady is a disgrace to the name youth. Even if she has consulted the Oracle of Delphi, her Sisyphean political odyssey is utterly hopeless due to her lack of even basic common sense and common decency, her defeat at the ballot is certain and palpable in the air. If this is the youthful leadership we have, I go for an alternative. We have had leaders advanced in age who have done a lot for youths than “the youth” have done for their fellow youths. Nelson Mandela, Ronald Reagan, Kemal Atarturk, Winston Churchill were some of such exceptional old men with exceptional character.
Let nobody underestimate the intelligence and resoluteness of the youth. This time, we will only enter into an iron clad contract with the leaders who have sacrosanct and supreme interests of the nation, not mere promises which disappear into thin air after elections. Youth is a temporary and transitory condition; no one remains a youth forever so it is not always kosher for leadership. Even if we have to elect a youngster, we must not replace insightful leadership and reason with numbers, we have had able and competent young leaders throughout history, from William Pitt the Younger British Premier at the age of 24 billed as one of the greatest premiers , the brilliant and dynamic Ronan S. Farrow currently aged just 24 years and is engaged as a Special Adviser to the Secretary of State for Global Youth Issues, and before that was Special Adviser for Humanitarian and NGO Affairs and Lindiwe Mazibuko current South African Parliamentary Leader for the opposition Democratic Alliance, earned their place in history for their wits, not for stupid delusional headline grabbing pronouncements. We of course have the exceptions, frenetic mediocres who have rode to power on others coattails like Kabila of The Democratic Republic of Congo, Kim Jong-un of North Korea who are products of circumstances and not plan.
We the youth need to be organized and united in our pursuit for allies in our struggle against economic subjugation by the system, and these allies are to be found in our elders. We cannot succeed by isolation, retreating and yelling “this is our time” as Kamenchu is shouting, unless she is referring to Susan Wong and John Githongo’s understanding of “Our Time.” We have to think futuristically and act in the present time.