Many Kenyans have been wondering whether the current government is serious about pledges they articulated to the electorate.
For the majority of the past fifty or so years since independence, the KANU party had been in control and was described as a “dictatorial kind of party” that never listened to the peoples problems. The land clashes, embezzlement of funds, the political assassinations, the land grabbing and the murder of clergymen were all characteristics of the former regime.
Fast forward to the 2002 general elections where the NARC party won a landslide victory on a platform of economic reforms, adoption and implementation of a new constitution within one hundred days of getting into power, free primary education and the controversial issue of creating five hundred thousand jobs annually. To their credit, at least they have fulfilled their pledge of providing free primary education, which has given impoverished children a lifeline. But that seems to be all there is to it.
The current government doesn’t seem to have changed much from the previous one. In fact, most of the same people who were in KANU are now in the ruling party. Financial scandals caused by the governments appointment of old guards are raising eyebrows among the youth. Most of them find it unworthy to study when their credentials will get them nothing but a first place in the unemployment line as they watch doddering old men take over the places that are rightfully theirs. It is for this reason that they are asking themselves, “Is there any hope for us in the future?”
This situation is not only reflected in Kenya but in many other African countries. Something needs to be done before it is too late. Young Kenyans are moving to different countries to pursue opportunities that are denied to them here. In 2002, it was estimated that seven thousand eight hundred students who sat their form four examinations flew out to North American countries such as Canada and the United States. This in itself is not a bad thing. There are numerous courses that are not offered here that may be of interest to some students. The facilities and some may say the quality of education offered abroad is superior to what is offered here. The problem stems from the fact that these thousands of Kenyan youth hardly ever return. This brain drain is costing the country dearly in terms of much needed skilled labor.
But all is not lost. There seems to be a strange reverse exodus occurring. A significant number of Kenyans are returning home laden with academic qualifications and years of job experience. They are finding that there are numerous opportunities in the country that meet their needs. Asked why she decided to return, one young lady quipped, “I was tired of paying American tax dollars.”
Not only are they returning but they are encouraging others to take up their rightful place in the political process. Donald Manyala is one such. Fresh from University, the ink barely having time to dry on his diploma, Don is running for a position as Member of Parliament. He is confident he has what it takes and moreover, what the people need. A transparent, trustworthy, tenacious leadership.
So yes, there is a lifeline for the future. It lies in the present.
At the risk of sounding cliché, the youth are the leaders of tomorrow.