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Milennials pushing for rightful space in society

OPINION
By Nyambura wa Wanjiku | April 11th 2021

Activist Boniface Mwangi is arrested for reportedly interfering with Labour Day celebrations at Uhuru Park, Nairobi, in 2016. [File, Standard]

Millennials have been labelled as being apathetic, lazy and disengaged. The undeniable truth is that this generation has done things differently from what had been considered as the norm. Interestingly this generation is not monolithic, they wear different stripes.

Contrary to them being branded meek and weak, millennials approach to power dynamics is with an ‘all or nothing’ attitude. 

They possess an emotionally-fuelled mob mentality with instinct to burn down society. They harbour a sense of being disenfranchised and the feeling of being victimised by the society for wanting more and wanting better than the generations preceding theirs. A collective resentment of having to inherit a system that is collapsing is embedded in their psyche.

Millennials constitute Generation Y and Z. Generation Y is keen on questioning the status quo whilst Generation Z is more about the bigger picture. What is important to these generations is not the story being told. They are more interested in the conversations being elicited from the story. Reshaping the society for greater social integration is what they aim for.

Tonnes of information

They are vehemently against exclusion. Exclusion that previous generations have endured through silently. They seek integration, acknowledgment, acceptance, inclusion and equal opportunities to participate regardless of gender identity, political inclination, tribe, ethnicity, sexual orientation, dress code and many other barriers set up by previous generations.

Arguably, this is the most educated generation yet. They are all rounded with more potential. They grew up in the digital age understanding that the world is a global village. Access to tonnes of information is right in their hands. They know the importance of being connected.

Perhaps, they are returning to the ways of our ancestors. Our ancestors existed under ‘Ubuntu’. It’s only that now Gen Y and Z are able to transcend the physical barriers because of the information age they are living in. Perhaps this is the generation that will liberate humanity from the hold of falsified capitalism. Institutionalised ‘man eat man’ society.

It is impressive how millennials have come into a space that was not designed to include them. Not only have they somehow found their way around it but they have also thrived in that space. Look at the social media sphere. It is the millennials who lead these departments. A great win for a generation labelled as an ‘impressionable’ lot.

Ugandan presidential candidate and singer Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known as Bobi Wine, gestures to a cameraman after casting his ballot in the presidential elections in Kampala, Uganda, on January 14, 2021. [Reuters]

The feeling of belonging to society by extension is a sad reality for millennials. How do you belong to a society that is keen on dictating to you what you ‘need to be’ or ‘how you need to show up’. Yet, society is a no-show in matters concerning your wellbeing? Why does society then act surprised every time this generation segregates itself?

It is not an entirely disengaged lot. No! Millennials perceive things differently. Growing up in the digital age, there is an insatiable need to be part of something. Something greater than self. A higher cause. A cause that sees them and appreciates their hard work and talents. The truth is that millennials do discuss politics but in their digital cocoons. They are watching. What’s lacking is the connection to the historical narratives on which our systems were built on. These are a little too outdated, too oppressive and have no place in the future. To the millennials, there is a universal need for new human-centred systems. It is time to put more effort in establishing conversations amongst ourselves. How are we to accommodate the millennials? If everything remains constant, they are the new guard of society. Look at what happened in Nigeria with the #Stopkillinguscampaign.

The storm that was this campaign. It spilled over to Senegal too. The connection here is undeniable. Slowly and surely this demographic is pushing for their rightful space in society. What is different is that they hit when least expected to

Bobby Wine

They are not scared of dying. No amount of pressure can subdue their conviction. Bobby Wine is a living testimony. Boniface Mwangi is another special example of how this generation is organising differently; socially and politically.

Their rightful space at the table is no longer negotiable. They are no pawns. Enough of this political parody. If they can set online conversations, then they can as well lead the country. This tokenism business that makes the lazy leaders look good must end. It is said that still waters run deep. Millennials are clawing their way to being accepted as equal partners in leadership. Learn and speak their language to understand their issues. Like deep waters in a reservoir, millennials are slowly filling up the dam and covering over everything in it.

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