We have all heard the phrase “Politics is a dirty game”, but I don’t think so, in my opinion, there are a few ‘dirty’ people in politics but a new generation of leadership with a vision will change that.
On March 4th 2013, Kenyan’s voted in our most complex election yet. There were six posts to vote including, Presidential, Gubernatorial, and Senatorial, Members of Parliament, Women Representatives, and County Representatives. We witnessed the politicians spend billions of shillings on their campaigns which for the young political aspirant is unfathomable and unattainable.
A quote by George Jean Nathan “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote” depicts how lack of participation in politics is the cause of bad leadership. Young people constitute a high percentage of the population in Kenya but I realized that a large number of young people including my friends did not register to vote. Their excuses were, “I voted last time and the election were flawed why bother”, “I was too busy to go register”, “I don’t care who becomes president, governor or whatever…life goes on anyway”. The nature of their responses was alarming as one would expect passion and readiness to elect new leaders especially from the young. It saddened me that as we think about the future, we would hold such thoughts as youth.
Successful campaigns were launched in order to involve the young undecided voter including but not limited to the Swing Vote Campaign which covered different areas concerning elections in a way applicable to the youth in a comical way and the Youth Agenda Kenya who were also active in conducting civic education across Kenya targeting the youth and I had the privilege of attending a session which enlightened me on the election.
I talked to one of my friends, a young woman, who ran for office as county representative in Embakasi area Nairobi. She did not make it through but cam came out third out of twelve candidates. She viewed it as a victory in some way as she was the youngest of them all and had the least funding. Though she did not win she told me in our conversation that she’s happy to have made it that far and that for her this is just the beginning. She stated that some of the challenges she faced were lack of funds as a young person and also being a young woman, where she also faces intimidation.
According the UN News Centre, Ban Ki Moon’s during the 5th Global Forum in Vienna, Austria urged youth to take the lead since they have already demonstrated a willingness to and ability to take on the responsibility of leadership, and that our voices as youth need to drown out those that preach division and hatred.
It is not all doom and gloom for youth since the ones who were elected though not as many as we hoped for, will represent the issues the youth face and set new standards proving wrong the fallacy that ‘Politics is a dirty game’. For those who didn’t make it through, the next election is only five years away.
We as youth look forward to future elections I know the results will favour youth more than they did this time round.
By Hannah Ondiek, Africa Regional Director (in training)