The international youth week is over. But how far do we go into keeping promises made, activating the great phrases and powerful quotes that we came across in the looong speeches that we had in the last week?
The past few months have seen a lot of support by the government to the Kenyan youth in promoting their sustainability. From kazi mtaani, to buying hospital beds from two young innovators in Kiambu county, the government has shown efforts in trying to support young people and their innovations. Commendable, but there is a long way to go on this.
This is the time to have more youth come out and get more engaged.
Anyway, that is not my purpose here.
Today, I celebrate individuals and organizations that are helping nurture young men and women with immense potential and promising to be champions of change from the grassroots to the international levels; everyone spending sleepless nights as they think of strategies and ways in which they can equip more young men and women with knowledge and help them unleash their inner-selves in ensuring that the nation and continent at large is rising from its shadow with more involvement from the youth. The Caren Wakoli’s of this world who have started organizations that are equipping young men and women with knowledge, skills and offered mentorship programs which have in turn pushed a good number out of their comfort zones and are now actively engaging their communities, governments and their peers in ensuring that there is positive progress in the tiniest of spaces. Owing to such organizations, there are more people actively engaging politicians, civil societies, and their communities fearlessly and achieving their plans.
This year’s celebration marked 20 years since the UN designated 12th August as the international youth day. This was also the first celebration of this new decade, a decade that started off promising greatness before the world was paralyzed by a pandemic- which we are now learning to live with. It is the same decade when all United Nations Member states will be seeking to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which we have a crucial role to play. The next 10 years are demanding of increased youth participation. This is the time to have more youth come out and get more engaged due to existence of organizations such as ELF, which are increasing their capacities to reach out to more young people.
These organizations, however, cannot do this on their own. We all have a role to play. To achieve this, we need to be collectively engaged with a goal(s) in place, get ready to face disappointments and come out stronger, learn, unlearn, and embrace failure as part of growth.
To all organizations working towards capacity building and equipping young people with knowledge, ideas, and skills on how to be more engaged in various sectors, CHEERS, do not relent. To the private sector, there is a great role for you to play; join hands with other practitioners and help young men and women raise hope and belief. To the government, there is much more to be done than making boardroom policies that get rusty and dusty on shelves; there is much more to be done than making promises you won’t live up to; there is more to be done than the few government appointments you make to cover up for the high number of senior citizens who are getting government appointments.
To the young men and women who make the youth cut, there is much more we can do than just waiting for media interviews and twitter rants to shout ‘Serikali saidia’ and hurl insults at anyone. With devolution in place, we can engage local governments in various ways like our Tunaweza fellows are doing in the 8 counties that we currently exist in. We can come up with ideas, proposals and present to our local leaders, keep knocking on their doors, they will finally open. Let us not wait for the national government without first knocking on the doors of our MCA’s, Governors, and relevant local offices.
This year’s theme seeks more youth engagement from the local space to the international space for global actions, let us live up to it. Let us fight for our space, grab opportunities that come along and get more involved.