Youths should not pay for handouts with their lives

Residents of Kenol, Murang'a County, react during a deadly clash of youths allied to Jubilee Party’s Tangatanga and Kieleweke factions on October 4, 2020.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The youths must understand that no wheelbarrow, mkokoteni or handout is worth paying with their lives.
  • The youths must be wiser and resist being used and dumped by politicians who care less about their future.

One of Deputy President William Ruto’s tactics ahead of 2022 has involved wooing the youth and women to support his presidential bid.

In the name of ‘empowerment’ programmes, he has been giving out wheelbarrows, handcarts, water tanks, sufurias, and of course cash handouts to youth and women groups mainly drawn from informal settlements.

While this may, ignorantly, pass as the good aspect of Dr Ruto’s charm offensive, the bad and ugly sides of the strategy was, perhaps inadvertently, laid bare during the deadly chaos in Murang’a last weekend.

At the heart of the violence were poor young men and women lured from urban slums and ferried to Murang’a.

Christopher Kariuki, a 21-year-old father of a three-month-old baby, was enticed to travel to Kenol with an assurance that he would be paid Sh2, 000 to spruce up a hotel in the area ahead of the DP’s visit. The young electrician cum plumber from Thika’s Kiandutu informal settlement would later find himself entangled in political violence he knew little about.

Vicious attack

Fifteen-year-old Peter Mbothu, who completed Class Eight last year, also lost his life in similar circumstances. The life of the poor boy from Thika’s Kiang’ombe slums was nipped in the bud.

One of the youths seen in action at Kenol wearing a T-shirt with DP Ruto’s picture is reported to be a known resident of Kibera slums while the young woman who was injured after a vicious attack is reported to be no stranger in in the DP’s campaign circles. The coincidences in the episode were too many to be real.

The buses which were used to ferry the youths, are owned by one a known man in Mount Kenya region. The operators have been summoned to shed light on the incident.

The Kenol chaos have revealed that there is more than meets the eye in the DP’s ‘empowerment’ programmes. The DP has been widely accused of exploiting poverty among Kenyans for selfish political gain using his hustler movement.

The violence gave veracity to the accusations; it had all the hallmarks of militarisation of the youth as a tool to achieve power.

But how unfortunate that desperate, if not jobless, youths can be lured with a promise of quick riches, and end up paying for the same with their lives!

 The youths must be wiser and resist being used and dumped by politicians who care less about their future.

Kariuki’s young family has been left without a breadwinner, and it is unlikely any politician will come to their rescue. This is too painful and high a price to pay; one that can’t be equated with the Sh2,000 the diseased was to receive.

While mourning his son, Mbothu’s father said the politicians who lured the young boy to his death were nowhere to be seen.

The politicians’ should tag along their kids - who are busy studying abroad, in plum jobs or dealing lucrative tenders - and put them on the frontline when attending potentially explosive political rallies.

They should bring along their kinsmen and clansmen when intruding other politicians’ territories without bothering to inform the hosts. The politicians should keep off poor Kenyans.

The youths must understand that no wheelbarrow, mkokoteni or handout is worth paying with their lives.

Olivia Chebet