An open letter to the youth on August 9 polls

People queue to vote at NSSF polling in Starehe constituency.

People queue to vote at NSSF polling in Starehe constituency on April 14, 2022, during the UDA party's nominations.
 

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Your decision to vote has the potential to change the trajectory of not just this country, but also your life and that of your loved ones.
  • In your hands, you have the constitutional right – and power – to do something great for yourself and for your country


Dear Kenyan youth,

I am writing today because we are at a critical moment in our country when we go to the polls in a few days to determine our next president.

I know you have heard a lot from politicians, the media, your family, friends and social media, but I am here to deliver one special message a few days before the elections; you need to vote.

The stakes are high in every election. However, in this election, the stakes are very high. Your future –and that of your children – hangs in balance. 

Your decision to vote has the potential to change the trajectory of not just this country, but also your life and that of your loved ones.

In your hands, you have the constitutional right – and power – to do something great for yourself and for your country, and you must not let anything or anyone convince you otherwise. 

I am writing this because we have heard reports of voter apathy, especially among young Kenyans.

There is a good number of you who have decided that August 9 will be a day like any other when you will ignore the elections and go about your business as if the future of this country is not in your hands. Big mistake.

It is no secret that Kenyan youth are disappointed in their politicians, most of whom run on empty promises and selfish ambition. 

A million votes 

Although hopeful, many of you feel a sense of helplessness especially when it comes to our politics because you imagine there is little you can do to make a difference.

‘What’s the point of voting?’ you ask. ‘…after all, mine is only one vote.’

But I want to tell you one thing: that one vote is a million votes if a million Kenyan youths decide to take a decision on Tuesday to exercise their constitutional right and vote.

We have had a tough two and a half years. We have lived through a pandemic. We have lived through unemployment.

We have lived through corruption scandals that made us feel small and helpless. Yet, we are still here.

Which means there is hope. In the midst of the storm of high food prices and galloping cost of living, there is a flicker of hope. That hope is your vote.

That vote will change the cost of living in this country. That vote will determine if you will have a job tomorrow.

That vote will determine how your taxes are utilised. That vote, dear Kenyan youth, will determine your life for the next five years. Did I say the stakes are very high? 

So, instead of complaining about your MP or MCA on Twitter, I need you to put your phone down for a day and vote. 

Instead of insulting that presidential candidate on Facebook, I need you to show them what you mean by waking up early on Tuesday, slipping on your heaviest jacket and going out to vote.

I will finish off with Barack Obama’s wise words, “Don’t Boo. Vote!”

The writer is the director, Innovation Centre, at Aga Khan University; [email protected]

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