What you need to know:
- They must not abandon their focus of becoming agents of positive change.
- They must also steer transformation in governance and exhibit a high level of confidence.
- Youth must play a central role in policy formulation and implementation on matters of devolution
As we begin the International Youth Week, it would be prudent to deeply reflect on and consider ways in which young voices are a critical mass in Africa.
As the majority in Kenya – 65 per cent – one expects to see them at the decision-making table. Sadly, they form a bloc of hopeless citizens who have little impact on issues of national interest.
Recent findings by the African Institute for Development Policy (Afidep) and the University of Southampton, UK, analysing youth demographics in the East African Community, shows unemployment in Kenya is marked by inequality and discrimination.
But the youth are also faced with the challenge of Covid-19, which has disrupted their lifestyle in hitherto unimaginable ways. Thousands can’t continue with their education or were laid off.
But the youth still exude hope that they can be relied upon. Amid the pandemic, they are demonstrating their continued leadership in their communities and countries. Recent UN findings show young people as among the most affected by the pandemic’s socio-economic impact. They are also among the most active in global responses:
Not only are the youth on the frontline as health workers, they are also advancing health and safety as researchers, activists, innovators and communicators. As such, decision-makers must ensure youth voices are part of the solutions for a healthier, safer and gender-equal world.
They must not abandon their focus of becoming agents of positive change by shunning drug and substance abuse and violence.
They must also steer transformation in governance and exhibit a high level of confidence and courage against graft, the widening gap between the haves and have-nots, economic marginalisation, discrimination and never-ending divisive politics often advanced by the elite.
The transformation is closely knitted with the willingness and consistency of our young leaders to embrace each other regardless of political and ideological alignments. They must pursue collaboration with the government and private sector in deepening engagement on governance and devolution. They must ask the right questions and scale up action and accountability, avoiding activities that could taint their morality and ethical standards.
Youth must play a central role in policy formulation and implementation on matters of devolution. As we steer the country through the crisis, let them find solutions to insecurity, corruption and impunity, loose morals in most of our leaders, illiteracy and poverty entangling the wider population. They must be vigilant so that gains made in the new dispensation are not reversed but safeguarded.
Lemargeroi Saruni, governance/political analyst and Mandela Washington fellow. [email protected]