By Sheryl Christine
They say “do not let anyone look down on you because of your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in peace, love, and purity.” What’s the essence of all this? As I voted this year in August for the first time, I didn’t remember being trained in civic education but was reminded every day to cast my vote. Isn’t everything in this country rationed? From food to education costs, to youth participation and engagement to basic democratic information, everything is rationed.
During the 2022 August election in Kenya, there was a decline in the number of young registered voters by 5.27% as compared to 2017. This has led to many questions and a lot of blame games regarding the youth not being active. This has affected the democratic trajectory of this country since most politicians look to them for votes as they make up 75% of Kenya’s population. What’s the cause of all this?
Youth Voter Apathy
Politicians should understand that the youth feel like voting doesn’t change a thing in their daily lives. Life is difficult and there is no correlation between the youth and the politicians, they have to face unemployment, inflation in the price of basic commodities, high cost of education, and have to travel abroad to find employment opportunities since in this country it’s always the infamous slogan “Kazi kwa vijana pesa kwa wazee.”
The economy will always be the center stage, and the solution the presidential candidates offer on economic breakthrough during their campaign period sound unrealistic and unconvincing. What we expect to be done by the government is the creation of an innovative and competitive economy, building a capital-owning democracy that we as youth barely hear or see.
Underrepresentation in politics
We have few of our own to vote for and represent our needs. It’s either the oldies don’t give chances to young people or young politicians get attacked, threatened, or sexually harassed, especially women. Lack of political integrity and high scale of corruption is a worrying point for this country’s youth because politicians are more concerned with their needs than the needs of their people, including the youth.
Lack of early preparation, empowerment and civic education, which youth feel is only being taught for a few days to election day, but after the election, what’s next? Additionally, the millennials should understand that this generation of youths is online-oriented and prefer to get their things done online. The government, should engage and support the youth through inclusive political processes and democratic practices, decision-making processes, meaningful, friendly policy implementations, introduce training to increase youth political participation, and involve them in constitutional review processes and youth empowerment through early civic education.
The masses and media should also ensure that these youth pleas are aired. In any case, the government doesn’t upload these issues that affect the youth, sit down with them and understand them. What if we had a national youth parliament in Kenya? Or young leaders for governance in Kenya? Or an initiative to provide justice and support to the vulnerable group of youths? What if we spark a youth revolution till our needs are met? Think about it.