We must include young people in luminaries’ lists

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta. PHOTO/COURTESY

Raphael Obonyo   

The recently inaugurated National Youth Heroes Council set up under the Kenya Heroes Act, currently in the process of establishing criteria for recognising, selecting and honouring heroes, must ensure the youth are not left out.  

Youth have been at the forefront of endeavours to make Kenya shine and continue to perform with distinction at different levels in the arts, sports, entrepreneurship and many other sectors. 

Young people continue to play a big role to address some challenges in their communities and in the country.

We have seen young people creating positive change in their communities across the country. But their efforts go unrecognised or undervalued. 

Since independence, Kenyan youth have suffered a myriad of problems despite its huge proportion to the total population, which today stands at over 60 per cent.

They have, over the years, not been reflected in the social and economic structure of the nation.

They occupy the lowest echelons of the hierarchy and suffer serious exclusion. 

For the last fifty-seven years, successive governments have failed to create sound policies to improve the condition of youth in the country.

The group remains in appalling conditions, forming the largest segment of the unemployed, illiterate, poor and under-represented in politics.

Today, seven out of every ten jobless people in Kenya are youth. It is most unfortunate they have not been afforded opportunities they require to obtain skills essential for economic and social development. 

Looking at this situation, one would be justified to say Kenya is still far from real freedom.

Noteworthy, inequality, corruption and poor leadership are still the main enemies of marginalised groups in Kenya.

Sadly, the growing population of youth is viewed as a problem instead of a benefit that can spur the economic growth.

I hope that this perception will change because young people are solution providers. 

Youth are the real heroes of our country, even if they are not recognised as such; they are actually shouldering huge burdens, but they remain unsung heroes.

Even as they face unprecedented challenges, young are making tremendous efforts to make a difference. 

In marking this year’s Mashujaa Day, it is good to remind ourselves of important role youth have played and must continue to play to transform their livelihoods and to build a better country.

We have to keep supporting and recognising the positive role young men and women play, and put their efforts at the front and centre, so no one can escape it. 

Make no mistake, Kenya will only become great if it recognises the contribution of its young citizens and enable them to take part in all spheres of development and decision making.   

There is an old saying, ‘It is the young trees that make up the forest’. Kenya’s youth will determine its future.

Indeed, the country will not rise unless and until young people are included and recognised, and their energies and creativity mobilised for the realisation of a better future. — The writer is the author of Conversations about the youth in Kenya. [email protected]

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