Courting The Youth Vote & Getting It Wrong

I was pleased to hear the youth vote will be a key factor in determining who will lead this country to hell again come the next general election. As a young person, I have never felt so WORTHY a citizen of this country. But even when this information came to light courtesy of some research firm (can someone please give me the stats?) I haven’t seen any RATIONAL effort by the current crop of aspiring politicians to court this youth vote. From a PERSONAL view (that’s MY opinion, not yours), everyone of our politicians seem to be getting it wrong. It’s evident in the public addresses, the TV ads and the body language. None of them seem to be speaking to ME.

I have asked myself, over and over again why this is the case?

Is it because, these aspirants cannot grasp the concept of youth? So much so that in their 40s, 50s and even 60s they consider themselves “youthful”? That, by the way is not just annoying.., it’s insulting. Certainly that’s no way to court us. It’s one thing to identify with our problems and general way of life, but it’s another to assume our identity.

Simply put, it would rile me to see my father (in his 60s) dress like my kid brother (in his 20s) – in skinny jeans and supras- just to show that he “identifies” with my brother’s youth. Everyone has their place in a team. Dad has to be the leader and act like it, while my brother, though empowered with a voter’s card gets a chance to monkey around until he’s at a certain age.

That said, I figured this morning, while brushing my teeth, that the reason our politicians don’t seem to be communicating to ALL youth is because no one has bothered to dissect and research on this huge, complex, invincible force so casually dismissed as YOUTH.

We are all so different. We have different needs and aspirations.

Not all of us are suffering, and not all of those who are want handouts . Not all of us are educated. Some of us choose not to get formal education, whether the resources are available or not. That doesn’t mean that those who don’t want to be in a classroom end up being thugs. Not every youth wants to go out party and dance. There’s a segment that would rather go home and read a book. That doesn’t mean that segment is saved or Muslim.

Not all of us want to be employed under Kazi Kwa Vijana, there’s a segment that would like to employ themselves. However, even the latter would rather not access the Youth Fund to see their dreams realized. Not every youth speaks sheng. They are those among us who detest it. Yet the youth who live in suburbia admire the ones in the slums that speak sheng and would love to be equally fluent. But then again, suburbia have their own slung. Has anyone bothered to address these high class youth segment in their preferred language. Oh, that’s right – they only only speak English and they don’t vote. You think?  Not every youth afflicted by poverty listens to reggae. Even suburban youth listen to reggae and not necessarily sufferer reggae. Not every unemployed youth drinks illicit brew or does drugs.

Most importantly, not every youth will listen to their parents or “village elders.”In fact, history has shown that the youth tend to do the opposite of what their elder counterparts DEMAND of them. But that’s not to say all youth are disobedient – and I use the term disobedient with caution.

Here’s the thing, it’s evident we youth have a mind of our own – a mind that changes very fast. One time we like something, the next we don’t. We are not as predictable as you assume we are. And to look at us as a unit, with similar interests and reactions is to insult us. The one thing we have in common though is that we have a powerful thing in our hands – a voter’s card. So if anyone cares about getting the youth vote and getting it right, you best put your money in some youth research in respect to current politics – hoping that the results you get are not cooked.

For now though, I’ll have to leave you standing at the podium doing your thing.

6 thoughts on “Courting The Youth Vote & Getting It Wrong

  1. Thanks! very apt article.. couldnt have said it better. Now not only do i not care if the aspirants are listening. i wish We .. those in this bracket.. listened to your words – Kweli, we dont know what our power is!

  2. The thing is, researching the youth might also be very cumbersome to our Kenyan research firms….they had better cook the results.

    But whoever will do that, they will have some very powerful data at their hands……and my guess is that only ad firms are really into that….because at the end, it will pay back unlike politicians who are clueless…….

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