Third Eye

Millennials, digital natives will be key in 2022

Monday, October 4th, 2021 00:00 |
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati. Photo/File

In the run up to the 2022 General Election, this debate on the demographics of an emergent group of first time voters has come to the fore. For some reasons this discussion has focused only on age. 

Many commentators argue that most of first time voters born between 2000 and 2004 and millennials born in the late 1980s to early 1990s are likely to have a big say in 2022. 

Well, a lot of analysts opine, erroneously I dare say, that these millennials and predominantly digital natives - children born and raised in the digital world - do not understand, cannot understand and are not interested in our past.

Some critics have gone granular and pointed out that it is needless for a politician looking for votes, to talk about past presidents including President Mwai Kibaki because these groups cannot relate. 

Such arguments present very naïve assessment of this generation that has grown up with choices and the attendant ability to put issues side by side, as a basis for decision making. 

You see, the generations just before millennials, grew up with a fairly restricted array of choices.

As far as news information is concerned,  everything was either in history books or a few State-controlled traditional media.

Even the commercial brands were fairly limited. It is the reason why such brands like Blueband, Kimbo, Kiwi and Colgate, just to name but a few, remain popular. 

But for most of the first time voters - the digital natives or what we call generation Z -  and the millennials, choices have been their way of life. 

This group knows much more than most guys who lived during the Kenyatta and Nyayo era. 

Why, because in making decisions on choices, they have in their lifestyle a culture of inquiry and in a thoroughly mediatised world powered by Web 2, they have had the opportunity to dig deep for information and socialise with lots of stuff. 

They probably know more about the past than most of the older generation, just as they understand the world today better than earlier generations. 

Studies have also shown that they get bored easily and that they fancy entertainment and progress.

Politics of sloganeering and catch phrases might interest them for some time, but they certainly move on once they have enough of that, especially if they see no progress in slogans. 

One thing that is clear, is the fact that the digital world has exposed them to unfettered information about their past, current realities including opportunities and challenges and future expectations.

They probably understand more about the Kenyatta’s Harambee era, Moi’s Nyayo era and the Kibaki administration, because they probably have had access to information about all these leaders in their preferred platforms. 

They are inquisitive and certainly don’t take emergent political issues and utterances by politicians at face value.

They don’t dismiss Raila Odinga when he talks about Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Matiba, second liberation or the Kibaki Tosha moment in 2002. 

They certainly don’t rest easy as if everything from the Deputy President including his assertion that he fought imperial presidency is gospel truth.

They go dig deep for information and it is that access to unfettered information about the past struggles and the changes that we have seen over time, that makes this group different and critical in the run up to 2022. 

I therefore, hold that this lazy and naive argument that these young Kenyans don’t know President Kenyatta, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, President Kibaki, Kenneth Matiba or

The young Turks of the Second Liberation is like saying, Kenyans who were born in post-colonial era don’t know that we were colonised by Britain.

We even know all the colonial governors and the big shots during the white settlers’ domination of Kenya as a colony. [email protected]  

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