Bold move: Kiambu sets aside April 5, as boy child day

Some of the young men at the county headquarters on April 5, 2024 during the inaugural Kiambu County Boychild Day.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

  • Kiambu County launched an inaugural Boy Child Day celebration on April 5, to empower and honour young men.
  • The county government outlined initiatives like providing chicks, piglets, and training opportunities to tackle unemployment and substance abuse.
  • Move aims to create a more equitable environment where both boys and girls have equal opportunities to thrive.

Edwin Njambi, a boda boda rider, sat attentively as he listened keenly to the speaker of the day as he delivered a message to hundreds of young men gathered at Kiambu County Headquarter grounds.

This was the inaugural Kiambu Boy Child Day celebrations, the brainchild of the county administration to empower the boychild.

The day which will be celebrated every April 5, is dedicated to honouring the boy child and recognising his invaluable role in the society.

During the celebrations led by Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi, the speakers took Edwin and other young men through a raft of existing opportunities they can exploit to make ends meet.

Edwin couldn’t hide his happiness with the county government’s initiative, which he said would be a gamechanger for boys and men in the area if well utilised.

“Today has been a great day. Speaking to other men from different places has given me motivation to keep my head up and keep working. We hope the county government can give us more opportunities to exploit our potential,” Edwin told Nation.Africa when we catch up with him.

He was optimistic the county government would continue uplifting young men by supporting their businesses and creating longer term employment opportunities.

Kiambu Governor Kimani Wamatangi addressing the young men at the county headquarters on April 5, 2024, during the inaugural Kiambu County Boychild Day.

Photo credit: Photo | Pool

Apart from the mentorship talks on the day, the county had also organised medical check-ups for the men, which included screening for hypertension, blood sugar and eyesight, among others.

When he rose to speak, Governor Wamatangi said the county was determined to empower the boychild to improve his standing in the society.

"While we champion the cause of gender equality and support the advancement of the girl child, it is imperative that we also focus on nurturing and empowering our boys to reach their full potential," he said.

Wamatangi noted that it is important that the nation works towards creating a world where all children, regardless of their gender, have equal opportunities to thrive.

"My commitment is to ensure my administration provides a budgetary allocation to support the boychild’s empowerment programmes, similar to the resources allocated to the girlchild. The boychild has faced numerous challenges that require our attention for them to succeed in their endeavours," he added.

The annual event will not only celebrate young men but also seek to inspire and encourage them towards prosperity, said the governor.

Cabro-making machines

To curb the high unemployment rate among men in the county, he revealed that he had set up initiatives to give young men chicks and piglets. He noted that agriculture, in particular, holds immense promise as a source of employment and urges the youth to explore this avenue.

The county has also introduced cabro-making machines to be stationed in local vocational training centres. The machines will offer opportunities to the young men who will engage in the production of cabro stones, which will be used for the enhancement of towns across the county.

With drug and alcohol abuse, being a menace affecting young men, the county is also spearheading efforts in advocacy and mentoring them. The devolved unit seeks to provide alternative avenues for recreation with sports being used to keep the youth active and focused.

“To support our boys on their journey to adulthood, positive male role models and mentors are essential. Whether it is a father, teacher, coach or community leader, these figures play a crucial role in shaping boys' values, aspirations and sense of self-worth,” the governor noted in regard to counselling and support for the boys to make healthy choices.

Peter Njenga, a resident of Banana Hills, Kiambaa is a beneficiary of an ongoing grassroots county road projects, where young men are hired as casual labourers.

Bright future

He told that the projects have given him and other young men in the area a source of livelihood.

“As youth, we appreciate that the county government has contracted us for manual work in the ongoing roads rehabilitation. The opportunity has provided meaningful engagement for many of us who were largely idle, “he said.

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Dr Alfred Mutua, who was among the guests at the event encouraged the men to look towards a bright future.

 “I want to encourage you that your time will come and with the support of the national government and your governor, you will lift yourselves up for a better future in Kiambu, and for the country,” he said.

Nancy Gichuchwa, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in-charge of Finance also commended the move to have Kiambu Boy Child Day, and other initiatives aimed at empowering the boychild.

“The man is the head of the home and we must speak and mentor them to help them change and become better and responsible men,” said Nancy.

Gender and human rights activists have, in the recent past, raised concern over the abandonment of the boy child, noting that much attention is on the empowerment of the girl child.

This, they say, is to blame for the high alcohol and substance abuse among young men in the country.

In January 2021, former Public Service and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia raised the red flag over the same.

While speaking in Chuka town, Tharaka Nithi County, Prof Kobia, called for inclusivity in the empowerment of both boys and girls in the society. She said society has given the girlchild a lot of focus forgetting the boys.

The former CS said the government is concerned with the turn of events where many boys did not report back to school after the government opened the learning intuitions after the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

“The government is concerned and keen to ensure the boychild is also in school and remains there,” said Prof Kobia.

Agnes Salome Awuor the founder of Hekima Kaka Society, which addresses the plight of the boy child and men in Kenya said both boys and girls should be empowered.

“We need to be mentors and be our brother’s keeper. All they need is empowerment so that they can become self-reliant. It is sad to note that boys have largely been excluded in the gender equality agenda,” said Agnes.

Boys and men have largely been lost in alcoholism, drugs, self-pity, lack of direction, terrorist and criminal groups, unemployment, suicide, illiteracy and hopelessness.

Observers fault lack of mentors or people to hold young men’s hands and show them the right direction, as some of the reasons that the boy child continues to lose focus.

Kiambu County has a population of 2,417,735 persons as per the 2019 Kenya People and Housing Census out of which 1,187,146 are male. A majority of men are in the 18 to 35 age brackets.