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Kenya is on the cusp of Generation Z-driven change

Opinion
A section of youths who attended a church service at Holy Family Basilica said they were against Finance Bill 2024. [Collins Kweyu,Standard]

Of all the fundamental rights ever codified to how a society can craft and reshape its affairs, the right to protest is the alma mater of popular sovereignty.

One would be right to say that an aspect of this proposition is slowly sinking back into the national psyche in Kenya. Lately, the country has been abuzz with what has largely been christened the Generation Z revolution.

Young Kenyans, barely bursting from their teenage years, have been mobilising across the country to protest the Financial Bill 2024 and condemn the overbearing tax proposals in the budget.

The point is simple: There is strength in numbers, and numbers make up the power of the people.

What has been interesting though for this new generation of protesters is the fact that that they are being collectively regarded as a new discovery! Indeed, they are.

Gen Z have been seen as sunken in the social media of Tik Tok, Whatsapp, Telegram, Instagram and other chat platforms. It is apparent too, that Kenyans have generally dismissed this generation to a point that not much attention has been directed to its independence of thought, growing proclivity to political self-determination and the power to organise for their own interests.

Whereas the State machinery has always prepared itself around the subjectively partisan and jaundiced stereotypes of politically-led demonstrations, it froze in the face of teenage girls asking for tax relief on sanitary towels and baby formulas for their children.

The antiquated State machinery was ill prepared for the youthful content creators and tech honchos on the streets opposed to high taxes on telecommunication gadgets and mobile data and money transfers among other contentious issues.

The police officers deployed across the country have faced situations where they have to confront age-mates of their children rather than the poor urban hoodlums that they have been used to chasing down the alleys with as skimpy sympathy as the clothes covering the backs of the victims.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has risen to offer legal support to protesters found in the trap of the retrogressive public order laws that still sanction the right to lawful protests and demonstrations.

This action by the LSK has been laudable. In the full outlook of the Financial Bill demonstrations, the Gen Z – aware that article 37 of the Constitution guarantees them the right to assemble, demonstrate and picket while observing peace and non-violence – has literally knocked on the gates of the political establishment aiming to reorder the country in their own image, style and vision.

The demonstrations have condemned ethnicity, patrimonialism and gerontocracy of the local leaders in all their dimensions.

This generation of Kenyans may have taken longer to comprehend what the founding fathers like Jomo Kenyatta, Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya, Gideon Ngala, Kun'gu Karumba, Pio Gama Pinto or Bildad Kaggia were about and their vision for the country, but sure they have showed their zeal to craft a country in the image of fairness, justice and progress.

It also means that the flavour of history does not in any case perish with time but rather it thickens to fruition. It is all too clear that the civic education aspirations founded in that period of time, have blossomed and the race to re-order Kenya’s political affairs is on. The baton for change is alive.

Mr Aluoka is an advocate of the High Court

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