The just-concluded general election had many positive outcomes.
The peace witnessed before, during and after the polls is unprecedented. Kenyans successfully broke the cycle of ethnic tension and politically-motivated conflict that has been the hallmark of electioneering periods in recent years. The number of women elected into various political offices also improved, setting a new record in the journey towards gender equality in political representation.
One of the other notable developments was the increased number of young men and women who expressed interest in, and offered themselves for election. Expectedly, many of the youth vying at various levels were up against great odds, given the amount of resources required to mount a successful campaign. We have to laud all the young candidates, the outcome notwithstanding.
Those elected now have the huge responsibility of not only delivering on their promises to their constituents, but also demonstrating the place of youth in political leadership. For many years, the youth have decried the lack of opportunities for leadership, especially in politics where party leadership positions have mostly been dominated by a small elitist group of veteran politicians.
Now that the youth have learnt how to take power and offer their skills in the political arena, they need to consciously initiate policies and programmes that are youth-centered to provide a conducive environment for other young people to take up the positions. Capacity-building initiatives at the local community levels will provide otherwise disenfranchised boys and girls the much-needed knowledge and skills to position themselves in the various leadership positions across fields.
Young people are known to be more creative and futuristic in their problem-solving strategies. Those elected therefore should champion the processes of seeking sustainable economic growth at the county and national levels. The issue of climate change has, for example, been a thorn in the flesh of many countries across the world. County administrations have to prioritise climate change mitigation if we are to overcome persistent droughts.
MCAs have the herculean task of initiating mitigation measures that can provide sustainable solutions to the challenges of adverse climate conditions. The youth should take charge of the dialogues not only in their county assemblies, but also at the community levels to ensure people adopt practices that can lead to sustainable climate change resilience.
They should leverage their technology savviness to champion efficiency in the provision of services to the people they represent. Rather than fit into the traditional, obsolete ways of solving problems, elected youth should lead the way in helping bridge the digital divide which is a key component of digital problem solving strategies.
The elected youths should realise that they represent not only evidence of political capabilities of young people, but also the hope for a better, more inclusive society.
-Dr Kalangi is a communication trainer and consultant, Kenyatta University