Why the youth does not "feel' Kenya's electoral politics

IEBC officials register a voter at Kakamega Lions School in Lurambi constituency on October 11, 2021. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Despite the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission setting for itself a lofty target of registering six million new voters by November 2, all indications are that the targets will be missed.

With a few days to go, the Commission had registered 800,462 new voters by Monday. It will take a miracle to hit even half the target of 3 million voters by Tuesday next week.

While the IEBC is not the only party to blame for this appalling state of affairs, it shoulders most of the blame as the presiding entity.

The electoral body planned, rolled out and keenly tracked the exercise. Besides the usual factor of Kenyans coming out last minute, the commission should have known earlier that this would end in spectacular failure and put requisite interventions or call the process off.

Planning issues aside, the missing massive publicity, the absent partnerships, the advance awareness of the exercise that never was, among others, there is a looming problem of general apathy, especially among the youth towards governance processes.

The last few years have not been so kind to the Kenyan youth of my generation.

While we make up the largest single voting bloc, there is seeping/seething anger among my lot, a sense of hopelessness with the direction the country is taking.

The feeling that their vote will not count has risen rather than recede with all constitutional and legislative changes that have taken place in the last ten years.

There is a lot of doubt, cynicism and mistrust in the role and influence of politics in ordinary lives.

To put it in more plain terms, there is an unspoken agreement among the youth on the lack of faith in important civic processes such as voting and access to public leadership. And they will never say it in public.

A majority of Kenyan youth feel as though their voice is not represented by the current crop of presidential candidates.

The presidential candidates and their agendas are not very inspiring nor relatable to my generation. We do feel them.

As we have seen in the past, there is also reasonable doubt that whoever is elected will bring about positive, meaningful change in Kenya.

The Kenyan political set-up is comprised of the same names, same faces, same tribal arithmetic and same slogans as were when we were infants. It’s a deathbed of manifestos, promises and ideas which never left the ground.

It is replete with rigging, corruption and talk of a ‘system’ that decides for all Kenyans.

Add this to the failure by government institutions to operate with this in mind when designing national processes such as voter registration, acquisition of Identification Cards or Huduma Namba.

You then have a thick froth of disappointment.

There has been little effort to address these issues and make Kenyan youth feel that they can run the show.

 After these figures are out, there will no doubt be the need, an urgent one, to turn the page on this sad state of affairs.

The feeling that despite being the majority your vote will not count, is not sustainable in the long run.

 Unless it is addressed through appropriate interventions and civic education, it may as well end up not so well for the country.

Related Topics

Youth Voter Apathy