Over 50 years after Kenya became a republic, the country is still grappling with enormous challenges and the Kenyan dream of a nation free of poverty, ignorance, and disease remains elusive.
Rampant corruption in the county and national governments continues to water down the development agenda for the youth. When a paltry 20 per cent of the population benefits while the other 80 per cent, mostly youth, suffers, it does Kenya no justice.
Statistics indicate that one in every two college graduates in Kenya is unemployed. Amid the increasing number of youth graduating every year is an economy that is creating few jobs, yet it is said to be growing.
It should go without saying that the youth are Kenya — and we cannot leave Kenya behind. Most important, there is a need to act with greater urgency to provide solutions. Most important, the young generation must rise up and provide the leadership needed to foster a better Kenya.
Indeed, the youth have the potential to change the narrative of the challenges facing the country. This will happen if young people look within themselves and their communities, identify action plans, and draw up a strategy on what they need to do and the resources that they will need to resolve some of the problems. This way, youth will not be mere spectators and recipients, but also providers of solutions.
For instance, the youth have a critical role to play in the fight against corruption. To put a stop to looting of public resources, the youth have a sacred duty to demand accountability from the political elite, to lead by example, and to stand up for what is right.
The youth have to be consistent if they want to make it difficult for corrupt leaders to steal. The high number of young people in Kenya will mean nothing if the youth cannot stand up against corruption.
There is an urgent need for young people to claim back Kenya. This can be achieved through new leadership and a new agenda to move the country forward. Youth must never forget that leadership must always be about the people and what is in their best interest.
Also important, is the need to change mindsets by redefining success in the Kenyan context and weeding out the culture of handouts and theft of public resources. Youth must stop believing that rich and powerful people are the most successful and that handouts should determine how one votes.
NEW LEASE OF LIFE
Indeed, there is an urgent need for the youth to elect leaders who share their aspirations. It is time young people refused to be the menu and insisted on being at the decision-making table to influence processes at both the national and county governments. This will see the youth initiate change rather than grieve about challenges.
Such pro-activeness would give youth a new lease of life. For once, youth will be seen, not as people with problems and always available to be bribed to cause havoc, but as young, energetic, and visionary people with solutions to offer.
The time to take action is now. Let each one of us play our part, however small. It is time for the youth to set the next agenda for Kenya and to shape the country into what we want — a better Kenya for all.
Mr Obonyo is the author of Conversations About the Youth in Kenya.