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Kenyan Youth


Something that the crisis in Kenya has revealed is the disenfranchisement of the youth from the political process. I just read an article that stated that close to 60% of Kenyans are under 35. Thats incredible.  The conflict there is just as much intergenerational as ethnic. Many younger Kenyans are either well educated and jobless or poor and jobless.  There is a definite undercurrent of economic deprivation that has surfaced and it has mostly hit the young. Thats why many of the protesters and perpetrators of violence are young men. Another quote from the article was by a Harvard professor who said of the youth:

"They have no commitment to the current system, because it has excluded them”

I think thats why its important to build identity networks like "Afropolitan". Young Kenyans (young meaning under 30ish or so) should start to reject the ethnicised political system that is in danger of being inherited by them, and instead identify on a more nationalist "Kenyan" approach. Now there are always problems with nationalism, but in this case, national unity seems to be what is being forgotten, with some small voices even calling for succession and a splitting of Kenya down the middle. This will not do and is really the easy and cowardly way out.

As it stands now, when people my age (20s) in Kenya come into more positions of power, things are bound to be different. We have been touched by globalization, hip hop, language, technology in ways that the 2 (maybe 3) generations above us have not. How cool would it be, in light of being 70% of the population if a movement of local diversity but national unity was started? This seems a long way off since there are more immediate concerns as getting the country back on track, but now is also the  best time since  questions of ethnicity and class and age are being discussed openly. 

1 comment

  • Can’t underestimate the power of starting to instill these ideas of value change early on. Like you said, it won’t be long before those under 30s are in places of power and it’s important to make sure that once they get there, they don’t become the Kibakis of tomorrow.
    Best wishes for the New Year!


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