By Tabitha Marion.
As we usher in October, the feeling of freedom and patriotism breeds in the hearts of most Kenyans. Mashujaa day is finally here, the celebration, the cheer, and the reminiscence of what our people did to earn us freedom. The bloodshed and lives lost during the struggle bring along a feeling of ‘we have made it!’.
The question behind this is, have we made it?
We have made it and we are still crying over high taxation, the education system, the rise in commodity prices, and now high varsity fees. We have made it when youths cry because of no jobs and now limited chances to further education due to constraints in finances. There is helb and government scholarship, yes, but did anyone consider homes that do not have access to smartphones? If not, cyber services; from which cybercafes took it upon themselves to fatten with money from desperate parents who could afford the expense.
These are prospects that would shutter dreams, dim light, and blind visions of children and youths who come from homes living below the poverty line.
Juma an ambitious, intelligent young man in the interior parts of Sinoko village is a victim among hundreds of youths who failed to join campuses around the country. Despite struggles with fee accumulation both in primary and secondary school and being sent home frequently for months, Juma believed against all odds that he would make it. He put in an effort with all his soul, body, and flesh until he completed, attaining excellent results that allowed him to join the university.
Juma’s dream was becoming, he was going to be a great man. However, not long enough after that, the government broke on different television and radio stations the news on the new university funding model. The apprehension was anonymous. The news was unexpected due to the rush ahead of the new academic year at universities and not forgetting the state of the parents, who were already battered with financial bills, increased commodity prices, and the new curriculum imposed. Everything became messy and disturbing for Juma and his family.
How could they manage this state? His mother, the family’s breadwinner, could only afford to feed them. He made attempts to seek help from government offices. Accessing cyber services became hard with no money. He took up small community tasks to earn enough to cater for the cyber services but as it has always been with meager pay, there is nothing much it can do.
Months, weeks, and days went by and the chances of him joining a good university became slimmer. With an ardent ambition, he wanted to read, to know, and to see widely and clearly through the lens of academia but now he roams around his village looking for means to sustain himself and his family.
This is the state of our youths. The government ‘help’ to education has just become as disastrous as government persecution. Maybe it is rightly said that, ” Masomo ya kisasa imelenga kukandamiza mtoto maskini.” It is just the end of the road, no way, nothing to cross over.
As Mashujaa day is approaching, we celebrate freedom and democracy which is absurd because who in this era knows true freedom? We are all still bound by high taxation. Where is democracy when laws are passed without the consent of the mwanachi? We get to hear about them on televisions and radios as ‘what the government saw fit’. The idea from immemorial was ‘kuondoa ujinga, umaskini na ugonjwa’ and we pride ourselves on nothing in the least. Every morning we wake up to new laws imposed. Who involved the parents and youths in making decisions about these changes in education? No one. It is just a government of the ‘big’ people, for the ‘big’ people, and by the ‘big’ people.
What marvels in all history till date, is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their government. They drudge along paying heavy taxes and following laws that overburden them and get nothing in return. If the agenda was keeping a majority of the people from ever questioning the inequity of the system then kudos, job well done because no one questions. But for the sake of that one child, youth, mother, or father something needs to be done.
Human rights is a story of the past that needs to be revived. An urge to human rights activists, opposition teams, and even nongovernmental and community-based organizations to step in and up their endeavors to set everything right. Education must thrive for one and all, our youths need to be informed. Like the biblical prophet Isaiah, for the youths’ sake, I will not keep silent, I will not rest until their vindication goes forth as brightness. Then shall it be said that “we have made it!”