Early this week, President Uhuru Kenyatta was hosted by young men and women at the Bomas of Kenya for a function to officially inaugurate a national youth dialogue initiative dubbed, 'Kenya ni Mimi'.
One thing that may remain on the memory of many Kenyans is the photo that made page one of the main national newspapers the following day.
The President was pictured shaking a leg with ICT minister Joe Mucheru, a not-so-distant relative of the youth. Also in the picture was the ministry’s Chief Administrative Secretary Nadia Ahmed, a member of the youth gang, as it were. The leader of the dance troupe was one Evans Ouma, the ambassador of the dialogue.
Though the attendant video of the picture was a let-down of sorts -- the organisers opted for a song by a Tanzanian youth rather one by Kenyans -- the spirit behind the initiative and the President’s speech cannot be lost.
The President has always exhibited a soft spot for the youth and has shown that indeed and word whenever an opportunity arises.
But this time around, it seems he wants to ensure the youth agenda will no longer depend on the temperament and character of the holder of the highest office in the land.
By initiating initiatives like Kenya ni Mimi, Kazi Mtaani, the National Youth Service and even the ministry Ms Nadia serves in, which has an entire department dedicated to this group of Kenyans, Uhuru leaves no doubt about his conviction on the centrality of the youth in any nation’s present and future.
But it is also in the Building Bridges Initiative report and the attendant Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that Mr Kenyatta’s real plans for the youth are made manifest.
In the Bill, the youth are explicitly mentioned a whole 14 times, and all for the better. If the BBI Amendment Bill passes, the youth will be assured of at least two seats at the National Assembly at any given time. Of course, this does not stop young men and women from competing for the rest of the elective slots.
Then there is the provision for an entire youth commission to be engrained in the Constitution of the country.
“There is established the Youth Commission. (2) The Commission shall consist of the following persons appointed by the President, with the approval of the Senate — (a) a chairperson; and (b) six members, with equal representation of both genders, at least four of whom shall be youth. (3) The members of the Commission shall — (a) include persons with experience in youth affairs and governance; and (b) hold office for a single term of four years.” The bill reads, adding:
“(4) The functions of the Commission are to — (a) advance the participation of the youth in all spheres of public and private life; (b) ensure the mainstreaming of the youth perspectives in planning and decision making; (c) advise the national and county governments on the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programs to secure sustainable livelihoods for the youth; (d) facilitate generational mentorship and integration of African traditional values with contemporary youth lifestyles; (e) promote the preservation and dissemination of African morals, traditions and cultures among the young people; and (f) propose legislative, policy and other measures for the attainment of this Article”
So when the President asked the Kenyan youth to stop shying away from pertinent country issues, he meant it.
There are several reasons why young people in this country, being the owners of both today and tomorrow, should support every initiative to make the country better in spite of who is leading it.
-Michael Cherambos comments on topical issues [email protected]