At the National Museum of Kenya, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy and other shareholders held a National Dialogue Festival. The discussion was based around the Building Bridge Initiative, Big Four Agenda and Vision 2030. However, the issue of youth inclusivity dominated the debates. Several university students complained how they have been neglected from decision making in various task-forces and institutions. In fact they were agitated that national leaders treat them with high level crass.
The Orange Democratic Movement Secretary General, a youth, who many of the questions were, directed to, sought to answer the many of us young people who were in the room. He said, “Youthfulness is not a qualification for you to get anything, you must bring some skills, abilities, and talents to the table for you to be considered valuable” When I posted this view on twitter, Richard Munang, Africa UNEP Climate change co-ordinator and UNenvironment award winner responded, “Being youthful is not a qualification or criterion for Entitlement. Youthfulness is ideas. Always know that being youthful will not last forever.”
No doubt, youths makes a critical group in developing a country and ought to be involved in national matters. However there is a rider, youth have to push themselves from their comfort zone to develop unique ability and skills that would enable them make meaningful contribution. During Kenya’s second liberation, students played a critical role in fighting against authoritarian regime. Among the face of youthful students during that time was Senator James Orengo. They were firebrand, without fear they surged to fight against impunity. Recently, on twitter one user quipped with nostalgia that we have lost youth vitality.
Me think, Youth have not lost their creativity and innovativeness. Rather, it is the circumstances and issues that have changed. We are no longer fighting against authoritarian regimes but against corruption and plunder of public resources by a group of elites. They are part of a small clique that has amassed enough to bribe their way out of judicial process. They are dynamic and shrewd. To win, we need to activate every nerve of creativity to find solutions to the menace. But first, we have to understand the environment in order to develop efficient and effective tools and strategies.
The current global environment is drenched in globalization phenomenon. Technological advancement remains the driving force. Therefore, anyone who wants to make any significant change must master the digital intricacies. The ability of young people to use new technologies with ease, in itself, is enough power. It is the power that could help us effectively fight against bad governance and corruption. But the energy ought to be focused and properly directed using the right tools and platforms
In her book Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics, Nanjala Nyabola explores several issues on use of digital tools and platforms. In emphasizing the significance of digital tools, she cites collapse of Chase Bank and how blogs and twitter accelerated the eccentric incident. She describes the use of Hashtags (#) for humanitarian courses like fundraising for medical bills. All this depicts the new power that exists in digital platforms. This power need to be exploited to maximum to boost accountability in developing our country.
Effective use of digital tools requires us to embrace new power system institutions. This system is premised on the idea that every individual with digital knowledge can offer value in the market. This then calls for liberalization of decision making and redefining public participation by all institutions. It is not proper to call for public participation of people who will be displaced as a result of construction of a dam after contract has already been signed. It is not right for a university to admit students in satellite campuses for a four year course in the city when they know in the next year they will be closing.
Adherence to ethical moral and values is important. What we put on digital platforms leaves indelible mark; hence all people must strive to post correct and valuable content. Young people must be weary of being engaged in character assassination. This can kill people’s career and reputation. However, we must viciously use digital tools to propagate the values of good governance and accountability. Naming and shaming corrupt individuals should be the mantra.
On developmental front, young people must embrace digital tools to create markets. Through online groups we need to create channels to produce, and markets products. Engineering students must endeavor to build applications that will make agriculture in rural areas productive. Mobile applications that could help in prediction of whether, measuring soils to determine which crops do well in particular places will be readily accepted and adopted in villages. We must take initiative, constantly sharing knowledge that will boost our creativity and innovativeness.
With collective mindset, we can achieve the aspiration as documented in vision 2030. With our technological advancement, we can achieve eradication of poverty