I have reiterated my belief in the transformative potential resident in the youth and tried to appreciate the challenges that stand in the way of the realisation of such potential.
I have attempted to present ideas on why and how the youth should spearhead our progressive transformation. I have often highlighted the challenges that have stood in our way for a long time, to the point that we view them as immutable realities that will forever keep us stuck in an ‘if only’ kind of mindset.
I am aware of the many disappointments that have mauled our national identity and given rise to cold cynicism to any promise of real transformation. Take the fight against corruption.
For a long time, we have believed that being corrupt is our natural predisposition and this attitude has been consequential - we have allowed corruption to eat into our national anatomy, the way a virus does to its host, because we did not perceive it to be a virus but as an inherent part of our anatomy.
For a long time, we have perceived the youth as a problem that needs to be solved rather than an indispensable resource requisite for our prosperity. We have often misunderstood them, and failed to connect with them and appreciate their aspirations and fears. It is this perception that has influenced our attitude towards our problem-solving capabilities and kept us in that ‘if only’ mindset.
Let us consider the fight against corruption yet again. When President Uhuru Kenyatta first talked about the Big Four agenda, he highlighted corruption as a huge impediment to its achievement.
He reiterated that the fight against corruption would not be an end in itself, but the starting point in removing the obstacles that stand in the way of realising progress.
Sadly, some of us have politicised this fight, disregarding the intended outcome. Yet it is understood that the Big Four agenda is for the youth, and that it is the role of the Government to provide a conducive environment for economic growth and prosperity. There is a need for attitude adjustment.
There is the problem of youth unemployment. Arguably, there is a mismatch between the needs of the markets and the suitability of the youth to meet such needs. For a long time, the blame has shifted from the apparent inability of our education system to instil the right skills to enable learners to be ready for work to the youth, who have often been accused of being reactive to the needs of the job market rather than proactive.
In my view, the issue is more complex and, as a start, requires a change in attitude. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. When we learn to spot real opportunities and are willing to work through the complexities required to realise these opportunities, perhaps the youth will follow the cue and develop an eye for opportunity.
This, as opposed to shunning constructive work and perpetuating the ‘it is our turn to eat’ culture where shortcuts to wealth creation are celebrated, is the kind of mindset that we should perhaps adopt. When we celebrate the spirit of enterprise and inculcate it into our national pride, we reinforce the aspirations of the youth.
When the Government plays its role in providing a conducive environment for the socio-economic growth of the youth by first eliminating hurdles that undermine the entrepreneurial spirit of our young people, then by enhancing access to information and markets and ultimately to opportunities, then perhaps this will go a long way in the transformation of our society.
When we strengthen and respect our institutions, we give hope to the youth and provide a framework within which their aspirations can be supported.
Last but not least, I dare not forget the role that youth can play to actively adapt to the changing needs of our world and deliberately seek ways in which we can positively contribute to our society.
Developing problem-solving skills, learning the importance of teamwork, and always seeking ways of improving our technical skills will go a long way in achieving our dreams.
For all this to happen, we need a change in our attitude to many of these issues. Then, perhaps with the right attitude, the journey to our economic prosperity shall be less bumpy.
Mr Mokamba comments on social issues.