In matters of the heart, love trumps ethnicity

Married couple
Most young people are open to the idea of marrying a partner from another tribe, a new study shows.

The report titled Next Generation reveals that at least 78 per cent of those interviewed would marry outside their ethnic groups.

But while respondents said they were less concerned about tribal affiliations, 72 per cent reported being worried that ethnic divisions were getting out of hand.

“If young Kenyans continue to feel excluded from social and political life as well as employment, there is a risk of demographic disaster where instead of helping to drive their country forward, they turn, in their frustration, to less constructive activities,” states the report released by the British Council yesterday .

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The British Council conducted the research in 47 counties and interviewed 4,000 respondents aged between 15 and 24 years.

The survey also found that 91 per cent of youths are fired up by patriotism despite the problems plaguing the country. In addition, 86 per cent felt that the heritage and identity of the country was the most important thing to them.

Relocate overseas

But 71 per cent expressed frustration with the lack of opportunities, saying they would relocate overseas in search of financial security. Sixty-one per cent believe there aren’t enough jobs in Kenya while 68 per cent said local companies paid poorly.

Some said what they saw online, and their interactions on social media with people living abroad, acted as a catalyst for them to move abroad. Their preferred destination is the US.

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Curiously, none expressed a desire to live and work in the neighbouring East African countries, while 65 per cent said they would migrate to other African countries in search of greener pastures.

The youths were also pessimistic about job prospects. Of those interviewed, 64 per cent said formal employment did not meet their expectations.

Biggest concern

Employment emerged as the biggest concern for the youths, with many saying they would like to delay marriage until they are financially stable. Only five per cent of the men interviewed had a spouse compared to 24 per cent for the women.

An equal number of those interviewed were self-employed or had been employed, at 20 per cent. The number of youths who said they relied on others for support stood at 60 per cent.

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“Getting people to employ us is like a dream that you will probably die without achieving,” a respondent from Mombasa is quoted saying in the report.

However, the youths still prefer white-collar jobs over agriculture.

Labour market

“Young people have a strong sense that the labour market is rigged against them in favour of older adults,” the 59-page report reads, adding that 63 per cent believed it was easier for their parents’ generation to have a good career.

Although the Council did not tabulate the number of youths engaging in sex for money, some admitted that sex paid while others admitted they did it to pass time.

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“It starts at around 12 years. Most people around here have at least five sponsors; one for your shoes, one for facial products, one for your hair and the genuine one. You marry the genuine one,” an unnamed female respondent from Siaya County told the researchers.

Most of the interviewees said while education was important, it did not guarantee their success.

The study also revealed that 56 per cent of the youths believed that President Uhuru Kenyatta's government had not delivered on its 2013 promises.

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